In 2008, I did a community art project on teaching ecological values under a study grant from the UNEP Eco-Peace Leadership program with Earth Day Network Philippines. The work involved preparing our partner community Sitio Alimugmog in Antipolo, Rizal for a social enterprise program using residual waste. Through art based activities we connected the self with the earth and integrated some concepts on ecological values in relating to their water source and their existing belief system and way of life.
After the study, I took a social entrepreneurship course under the Sprout E-Course of the Pearson Fellowship for Social Innovation with the dream of putting up a refurbished waste to resource playground and community center with an urban organic garden integrated here as part of every community's Materials Recovery Facility as mandated by Philippine law via the Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. I did not get to pursue this as I ended up pursuing peace work for the next three years. Nor did the partner NGOs pursue their social enterprise project with the community because of their location shift. Now back in this field of environmental concerns including its relationship with peacebuilding, I am birthing Mandala Earth Story as a series of modules that facilitate the understanding the self, community and the earth as interrelated parts of a whole using creative processes and outputs using a framework with Earth, Heart, and Art.
One of Mandala Earth Story's partners is Project Rainbow. Project Rainbow is a response to the growing problem of waste in the Philippines. In 2011, the total waste generated by the Philippines was estimated at 35,000 tons per day and 16% of it is plastic. This means 5,600 tons of plastic. Greenpeace and the EcoWaste Coalition have done a number of waste audits in Laguna Lake and Manila Bay, wherein plastic bags and other residual wastes like candy wrappers, plastic packaging material and the like always top the surveys. In the Manila Bay surveys, plastic wastes were recorded at 76.9% in 2011 and 75% in 2010.
Project Rainbow is a creative zero waste campaign that empowers communities in transforming garbage consciousness into eco-system consciousness as a response to the rise of unsustainable consumption and mismanagement of waste resulting in pollution and climate change related disasters. I co-found this project with the planning team of EarthDance Manila, a glocal festival on peace and the environment to assist in awareness raising about existing concerns about the environment.
Here I engage in sharing the story of the sacred circle of life and the 7 colors of the rainbow are shared based on how around the world, indigenous elders think of 7 generations after them for every action they make. As a community artist, my approach is to use the Head, Heart, and Art in connecting people back to their relationship with the earth so that any action is rooted in a bigger story making any effort more sustainable. Mandala Earth Story assists in connecting people with their story of waste from the journey of where it began and where it goes up to the understanding of its interconnected and interactive web.
The project has been in partnership with Earth Day Network Philippines, Ecowaste Coalition, Philippine Climate Change Commission, LBC Foundation, Dolphy Aid Foundation, and most recently World Wildlife Fund through its "I Will if You Will" campaign.
Recently, a painted segregator bin for Batug Elementary School in a Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda affected community was designed to support a recyclables filled building of the Windship, a typhoon bunker and community space by Earthship Biotecture.