In 2000, I’ve met Irene Juaniza. I have always admired her and her community organizing work – training young immigrant leaders in the San Francisco Bay area, organizing low-income working class families in Chicago’s south side, fighting for the rights of restaurant workers in Chicago. She is one of the very few Filipino Americans that I knew that are working as community organizers. Irene truly believes that we could affect the change that we wish to see in the world.
In 2014, our paths have crossed again and this time in deeper meaningful ways than I ever would have imagined. The Bayanihan Foundation is proud to support the group that Irene helped spearhead, Kaluluwa Kolectivo (Soul Collective). The Kaluluwa Kolectivo is exploring the connection between community and spirituality. The collective consists of e Armea, Stephanie Camba, Crystle Diño and Irene Juaniza.
What is the Kaluluwa Kolectivo (Soul Collective) all about?
The Kaluluwa Kolectivo explores how Filipino pre-colonial indigenous spiritual practices are continued to be used in everyday life to build thriving communities. The collective’s upcoming trip to the Philippines originates from creating community in order to support the participants’ personal and collective spirit work. Having met through varying social and political endeavors, they are building relationships and supporting each other’s spiritual paths. Although each path varies, the Kaluluwa Kolectivo share a common understanding – we are all spiritual beings living a human existence. For Kaluluwa Kolectivo, it understands “spirit” as guided by a process of inquiry and action to address the question: “How do we live as genuine expressions of the Divine Source through every thought, action, and intention?”
The Kaluluwa Kolectivo participants will be traveling in the Philippines for over two weeks. They will seek out and learn more about spiritual practices before the advent of Spanish and American colonialism. They will seek out these practices as they are played out in simple and daily routines, whether through cultural practices or overt spiritual spaces. The Kaluluwa Kolectivo participants will explore their indigenous spirituality at the same time mirror their own spiritual process. This trip is the start of a journey and perhaps will last beyond this first visit.
When will the Kaluluwa Kolectivo travel to the Philippines?
From June 23 to July 7, 2015, the participants of the Kaluluwa Kolectivo will be traveling to the Philippines with the three NEXTGEN Fellows: Jane Baron, Marc Butiong and Jeselle Santiago. Both Kaluluwa Kolectivo participants and NEXTGEN Fellows will be visiting different regions of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. They will visit Cebu, Samar, Tacloban, Iligan and Manila. Then from July 7 to July 10, 2015, the Kaluluwa Kolectivo participants will travel to the Cordilleras in northern Luzon. In each site, the Bayanihan Foundation will provide the travel logistics, connect them to potential partnerships and help them relationships with the local community. The Kaluluwa Kolectivo participants will also bring goods and gifts to each place from books to wheelchairs, based on what the community thinks they need.
Why is the Kaluluwa Kolectivo doing this?
The participants of the Kaluluwa Kolectivo have been involved as community activists and organizers for a long time. They have been engaged in the arts and in varying social justice issues. Irene and the Kaluluwa Kolectivo participants have created spaces for themselves and others to critically reflect, to re-imagine, to build relationships, and to take action. The common goal of the Kaluluwa Kolectivo community work is to assert and support self-determination. This intention echoes the Collective’s commitment to build community through each individual’s freedom to live and love as their Genuine Self.
I will be traveling with the Kaluluwa Kolectivo. I will also share the insights of our trip through continued community building. Many of the friends and family of the Kaluluwa Kolectivo have heard their song. They have organized and went door knocking; marched at an action; attended a workshop; danced at one of the fundraising events; sat in a healing session; or traveled with the Collective in ceremony. The Kaluluwa Kolectivo is a community. We invite you to continue this path with the Kaluluwa Kolectivo as we journey together.
How can you help?
I urge you to donate and support the worthwhile efforts of the Kaluluwa Kolectivo. You can donate at their online fundraising page http://bit.ly/1Gtfchc Your donation will go towards travel costs, stipends, honorarium, safety materials and other necessary expenses. All donations will be going to the Bayanihan Foundation to support the work fo the Collective. Your donation is tax-deductible as permitted by law.
Kaluluwa Kolectivo Participant Bios
Hi. I’m e. I’m a quiet kinky fat transmasculine genderqueer Filipino living and loving in Chicago, the city I was born and raised in. I am my mother’s daughter and my father’s son. I have a strong relationship with the moon, love working with my hands and building little buildings as well as community. I’m a Pisces sun, Taurus rising, and Gemini moon. I’m a platonic husband to 4 people, best friend to three, and a lover of my community and chosen fam.
I am an undocumented, queer, Chicago based Pilipin@ storyteller, writer, poet, singer, MC, healer, organizer, and all in all funny person. I am on this path to meet my family for the first time in 24 years, to connect with the land I come from and where my ancestors have lived and died, to learn and grow with and from the people and places I interact with, and to let the vibrations of my motherland live through me and allow me to sing our stories and memories of a more just world until we are all free. I launched my fundraising site earlier than the rest of the crew because of additional fees I needed to pay in order to apply for travel as an undocumented person. I’m a Gemini sun, Libra rising, and Leo moon.
I am a Chi-Pinay- multidisciplinary artist, mover and Filipino Martial Artist, believer in healing energy, cultural bearer, and Ninang/Tita/Pinsan/SisterHermana/Daughter/Kaibigan/HomeGirl/Sun/Mahal/Lover. I am deeply grateful and over-joyed that my path is allowing me to re-connect to my Motherland once again. I am excited to embark on this journey with my KaKol Pamilya in remembering carefully the love, power, and presence of our Ancestors and strengthening the connection of the knowledge and gifts that are within us to be shared with our community. I am ready and open to step from a place where fear and shame no longer live, but where Heart and Mind are aligned. I am stepping in rhythm to Tiwala, Tiwala na… Scorpio. All. Ova. This.
Born in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, I honor my Batangueña and Waray ancestry, and call on the Babaylan essence as I walk the Spirit path. Leo sun, Scorpio rising, Sagittarius moon, I gift the element of fire to our Kolectivo. Whether cultivating movement consciousness through community building or Soul work, I call on my Divine self to bring forth the perfection of love, life, and light in all that I see, speak, and do. I AM all that I AM.