MCHREDO: The Mother of Sigla

“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” ( Ps 118: 22 ) I always remember these words from the Bible every time I trace the origin of MCHREDO. It came from the new name of the Human Resources Center (HRC) that my team proposed to the Ateneo Psychology Department. The proposed name was Center for Human Resources and Development of Organizations (CHREDO). They rejected our proposal on grounds that we did not consult them and they perceived it as a sign that we wanted to bring HRC out of the Psychology Department. That rejection was the last straw that made me resign from Ateneo de Manila in 2001.

Before we separated I asked permission from my HRC team to use the name for my dream center. They gave it to me with blessings. I modified the name a bit so it became Milagros Center of Healing and Recreation of Developing Organizations (MCHREDO). MCHREDO remained a hidden dream inspiring me in all my engagements from 2001 until its soft public launch at ABSCBN Bayan Academy on March 7, 2011. Dr. Eduardo Morato Jr (Edmo), President and Chairman of Bayan Academy gave the keynote lecture. Sarah Balabagan and Dr. Ma. Lourdes Arellano Carandang (Honey) were special guests. Dr. Jimmy Galvez Tan, former DOH secretary gave his famous lecture on 12 Steps to Maintaining a Healthy Life. It was a one week event of different activities. The highlight was a run for the benefit of Prevention of Breast Cancer called “Mammothon” at the Quezon City Circle. I gave a lecture to members of ZONTA, Philippines. I walked with then Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte around the grounds of Q. C. Circle talking about greening project. But after that one big burst of activities, MCHREDO remained a hidden presence until the special event called “Agahan sa Hapag ng Pagasa” held at the ISO Conference Center on December 8, 2018. I invited all my friends and kindred spirits who have been companions in my life journey and thanked each one of them. Through a creative activity each table of guests pooled their talents and resources and presented a gift to our “Inang Bayan” One group composed an original song and sang it. Another group recited a choral poetry with movements. It has been one of the best moments of my life.

My intention was to do a series of “breakfast conversations” every month with a different theme. But sensitive to the flow of my river of life I began paying more attention to the call of the Carl Jung Circle Center especially the impact of Halo Halo Tayo 1 on me.

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HALO HALO TAYO: Added flavor to MCHREDO’s dream
Never in my life did I dream of acting on stage. I dreamt of singing and reciting love poems in a quiet bar but not acting. But the flow of the river was so fast. It was December 8, 2016 when Sonia and Marisa accepted the call to create a musical. By March 2017, Sonia, Ruby, the late Choncho and I were meeting regularly at Sonia’s home specifically in the round birthing table. The four of us made up the original Budbud Kabud—we enagaged in thought provoking discussions in Sonia’s van traveling from Katipunan Ave to meetings and the Jung Conference, “Our Psyche, Our Earth” and back home. Marisa joined us in the meetings as musical composer. Jay, Dido, Rose came later.

In our second meeting, I made reference to one of my favorite quotations on friendship, “A friend hears the song in your heart and sings it to you when your memory fails.” These thoughts on friendship captured how we (Sonia, Choncho, Ruby and myself) began our storytelling. From Sonia’s van going to the CJCC Conference to the round table in Sonia’s home we were just thinking aloud and sharing stories. Choncho and Sonia faithfully recorded these happy memories. 

In the next meetings, we started focusing on each one of us at the birthing table. When my turn came, I shared my vivid experiences of the “floods in my life”—literally and metaphorically. Jay spontaneously said, “Agos ng Buhay.” Jay connected to my soul and he gave a title to my life story which became the title of The Navigator song composed by Marisa.

 A few days after my one-on-one meeting with Marisa about my life story, she asked me for key words and phrases that she can use for my song. I was prepared because I just came from a solo retreat where I reviewed my life and the following stages emerged:

1) Sumasabay sa agos ng buhay

2) Sumasagwan sa sariling bangka

3) Sumasahimpapawid parang paru-paro

4) Sumasapuso kay Maykapal

These lines inspired Marisa to compose the four stanzas of my song. She provided the refrain that focused on the floods of my life.

 Ruby our playwright (also the Reveler) creatively wove the threads of my life into a “sail” that The Navigator archetype in me has been using in my adventures and travels. So it was such a breeze for me to recite my lines on June 12, 2018 (debut of Halo Halo Tayo). Lines such as…

“I have traveled far

Yet wherever I go my inner compass tells me my bounds.

I go places and I find my way.

…In my life, I have gone through thick and thin

There were very rough days.

High waters have come to my life.

That compass, that inner knowing tells me if I should stay or I should go

It asks me, “Should I bend or should I stand?”

I am thankful for this gift

I can find my way, I am The Navigator 

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Indeed my song and story as The Navigator powerfully synthesized my life journey making me see ever more clearly my Purpose and Path in this world. For this I am eternally grateful to CJCC.

MCHREDO TO SIGLA: Evolution of my Purpose and Path; Mission and Vision

I borrowed a Maori saying to be the guiding principle/philosophy of MCHREDO: “We are all visitors to this time and place. We are just passing through. Our role is to observe, learn, love, (serve), grow then we return home.” I added the word serve as a response to the comment of one of the Makati city barangay captains (participant in AIM Bridging Leadership Program) that something was lacking in the original version.

My definition of “HOME” is the foundation of MCHREDO. To me, HOME means “Healing of Memories and Energies”. In effect we come home to be healed. Even the Filipino word for home which is “Tahanan” conveys the same meaning. “Tahan Na” means “stop crying” in a nurturing way. So “Umuuwi tayo sa ating Tahanan upang Tumahan na sa ating pagluha at pagiyak.”

Life outside our home can cause many heartaches and hurts. Henri Nouwen said, “Our greatest hurts can be our greatest gifts.” I believe Henri. But we can only transform our hurts into gifts if we can come home to our self. So life’s tribulations can break us. But coming home to ourselves can allow us to be blessed and made whole again. These thoughts are embedded in the word “Re-Creation”.

Grounded on my Faith that our life is the gift of our Creator I believe that we are co-creators. “What I am is God’s gift to me; what I Become is my gift to God,” I always say this to myself. So our lives are all “artworks in progress.” Each one of us can choose which artwork best represents our life—a song, a poem, a painting, a sculpture, a tapestry, etc. I chose pottery because one of my favorite representations of God is a potter. So I am a unique Vase (not mass produced). God my potter lovingly and carefully shaped me into who I was when I was born (bouncing baby girl 9.2 lbs with two lower front teeth already). As I grew up God’s shaping hands have always been there especially when due to my own choices I would have cracks and other forms of brokenness. Whenever I had a crack God my potter like a Japanese artist of Kintsugi would pour liquid gold through it recreating me into a renewed Vase originally shaped with simple basic materials but adorned with gold veins marking restoration after destruction. As I surrender to my potter God throughout my life journey I become a more beautiful and priceless Vase. 

Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J, the famous Jesuit poet offered the simplest and most eloquent definition of “Mission” in these words, “What I do is ME; for this I came.” Mission is our purpose in life—our reason for Being here in this space and time. Mission is our Identity—Who I am.

During my early midlife crisis I consulted Morison Montes a psychic who read past lives. In my first session with her she just asked me to write my full name and birthday in one corner of a blank bond paper. She sat in a corner and quietly went into “automatic writing” guided by an inner voice while I also sat in another corner. After around 15 minutes she stopped and gave me 3 pages of paper filled both front and back. She asked me to read and reflect on the words quietly.

I learned that I had four past lives. First, I was a Dutch noble woman in the ----century and I hosted tea parties and engaged people in intellectual debates. Second, I was an Asian businessman and I traveled all over Asia with my children selling goods and metals. Third, I was an Eskimo father with 14 children. Finally, I was an Indian chieftain and my role was to keep peace among warring tribes.

Each past life connects and explains certain things that puzzles me in my present life. For example, I have always been fond of tulips since childhood. I wonder why. I got the answer when I went to Amsterdam which is the global center of the flower industry and the land of tulips. When I entered for the first time a windmill house my “soul felt at home.” Small and cozy but I felt like a noble woman. Then one woman tourist exclaimed, “So when are we going to start the tea party?” My work now as an Organization Development and Wellbeing consultant often brings me to intellectual conversations with leaders.

But the greatest revelation to me is my mission in life. Morison saw a visual representation of my mission—I am a mother bending down on my child that needs resuscitation” In words she said, “My mission is to breathe new life to persons and organizations that need resuscitation and rejuvenation.”

One week after that unforgettable session with Morison, my friend Karel San Juan who just came back from Vietnam gave me a gift. Lo and behold. It was a marble carving of a mother bending over her child. My mission has visible and concrete manifestation.

After HHT 1 I had a wonderful conversation with Mini Gavino. She invited me to join their “Baybayin workshop” that aims to bring back to our consciousness the original Filipino alphabet. I joined because I wanted to dig into the deeper meaning of my name “Milagros (nickname Mila) with the help of Baybayin.

My treasure hunt gave me nuggets of insights about my name. First, it affirmed what I learned from an Assumption nun in Mintal, Davao more than two decades ago. She told me that in her indigenous language, ”ALIM” which is the reverse of my name means “healing”. Years after that a trainor whom I met in Cebu said that in Islam “ALIM” means a wise woman. So I brought all these previous knowledge in my treasure hunt with Baybayin.

In the concluding ritual, Mini and Leah asked me to focus on my deep breathing as a new name emerges from my core. So I kept repeating to myself, “HINGA ng MALALIM” Gradually the phrase became HIMALALIM. They asked me to write that name in Baybayin and reflect on it. And another aha moment.

My name is HimalAlim. Two words woven into one identity. Himala which means “Miracle” and Alim which means “Healing.” So my name/my identity/my mission is Himalalim—The Miracle of Healing.

So putting everything together, my current mission statement which is also the mission of MCHREDO is, “I (MCHREDO) breathes new life to persons and organizations for Healing and Transformation.”

How will I (MCHREDO) do this when so many people and organizations at present need healing and transformation?

The answer came. Three days ago, I read an entry in my journal (March, 31, 2018). I wrote there an important reminder of Morison about my mission which says, “PRESENCE is my main mission in this life. Do not overpower the Beingness with Doingness. For the Family, just Be there for them. They will learn to “mother” themselves once you “let go” and start building your inner roots.” 

“One is nearer God’s heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth.” Each time I read these words on a table décor my mind travels to the Garden of Eden. One of my favorite stories of Genesis is that God went on a creative/artist spree and so the universe came into being. The culmination was making the Earth an abundant garden of flaura and fauna and offering it to the first man and woman. Human life began in that Garden of Eden.

So now when I really want to be silent and be ALL-one (Alone) with God I stroll gently in a garden where my soul can rest. While walking I whisper to myself my favorite Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul.”

Thus MCHREDO’s Vision is that it is a garden of healing where tired and weary men and women especially women leaders can find an “oasis of stillness” that offers solace, healing, rejuvenation and recreation.” MCHREDO’s garden of healing is interconnected with other “oases of stillness” 

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