Monday, August 19, 2013

Maia Earth Village

Lookin' good!
Jeepney from Puerto Princesa
After less than 1 hour in the air, our plane landed and we stepped out onto the tarmac of Puerto Princesa's toy-sized airport. My aunt Kathy and we immediately noticed the difference in energy. The dandelion green of Cebu City became the deep turquoise of the decreasingly remote island of Palawan.

Fresh from Kathy's initial culture shock in Cebu City, the more natural grit of Puerto Princesa was a refreshing change. This "city" of 250,000 people was the provincial capitol of Palawan and only the recent recipient of substantial tourism or infrastructure development.

Tricycle from town
On the day we arrived, a jeepney was ferrying some construction supplies from the city out into the mountains to Maia Earth Village. He picked us up at the airport and we tucked into the passenger compartment with the rest of the imported goods. We left the "city" in the direction of Maia Earth Village, which would be our home for the next 6 weeks.

Along the way, we got a flat tire, which apparently is more normal than a trip there without one. If something breaks or goes wrong in the life of a Filipino, it's not an adversity to be overcome, it's just life. You make the best of it and move on. "Bahala na." We were lucky it was only a tire and not something more important like an axle. We arrived in the dark, which became a pattern for us.

Kalayo, Claire, Kathy, Tara, and Me
What is Maia?
Orange mudhouse, and Kathy's home for 6 weeks
Maia is not yet a village or a community. She's a concept held aloft by the many people who dream of what she represents - simplicity, harmony with nature and self, transformation, Being, beauty, sustainability, and healing. Kathy's coming to heal from metastasized breast cancer represented the next shift in the conceptualization of Maia - Maia as a hospital.

Climbing for coconuts
What inflicts people with illnesses like cancer? Stress, emotional reactions to people and other aspects of complex, modern life, ingestion of laboratory-conceived foodlike substances, industrial chemicals, toxic or radioactive materials, radio waves for wireless technologies, electromagnetic waves, noise, discontentment, self-resentment, distraction from one's calling - these are all symptoms of today's deadliest affliction: modern life, here at the end of an 15,000-year-old erroneous turn in human existence. Kathy packed every piece of courage she had for this journey to the other side of planet Earth. She distanced herself from all of those modern triggers and distractions and planted herself in a totally unfamiliar environment. Palawan was a tropical island complete with humid, sweltering heat, mosquitoes, tropical rainstorms, spiders, snakes, beautiful sunsets, coconuts, mountains, beaches, lush green life, and a balance of life that was always in flux. She also put her trust in the word and limited experience of a nephew she barely knew to not only help her navigate the jungle of unfamiliarity, but also find healing in it all. The very fact that she had arrived at Maia was a testament to her desire to heal, but the work had only begun.

The second floor of Orange building

Coming down the stairs from the second floor in Orange
Maia is a mental concept, but she is also a spirit. The village of mud homes is nestled in the hills on very special land that was developed as a coconut plantation. Simplicity is the goal - rainwater to ladle-wash with, drink, and flush the toilets, raw foods kitchens, solar power for personal electronics only, and food from the land. The land itself has a spirit and energy with her own intentions, personality, and needs. Our presence birthed many projects and shifts in us and in the small group of people who were attempting to make Maia (the concept) a reality. Some of the cast is familiar (Sarah, Pi, and Daniw) and some unfamiliar (Tara, Nick, and Joyce). We arrived in the middle of an Energy School retreat run by Pi, the father of Maia Earth Village and her brother, Bahay Kalipay. So there were a dozen extra people present from all over the world who were learning to heal themselves and others.

Maia exists in the spirit of constant transformation. She didn't seem to want the people there to settle into a comfortable space of self-processing. If you were just starting to understand the last heart-wrenching lessons about yourself and life, then she'd throw another curve-ball at you. Each one of us, Pi and Sarah included, were unable to settle and process the major shifts in experience and understanding. If you were at Maia, you simply had to go with her flow. Although she could be loving, she was often an impatient bitch!

Bahay Kalipay
Flow of Transformation
Coconuts and the chopping block on the right.
Kathy was damn good with a machete by the end.
It's almost impossible to explain the personal shifts that took place in each of us. At first, Kathy was very uncomfortable; rainy season meant heat-to-rain-to-heat-to-rain, ants biting overnight and mosquitoes throughout the day, ladle showers, no toilet paper or automatic flush, and dozens of other small annoyances added up to a lot when combined together. Our diet was 100% raw. Kathy was eating 50% coconuts, I was eating closer to 90-95% coconuts. Over time, I also became the resident coconut tree climber to help support all of us. I would eat one to three young coconuts a day with the occasional pineapple or papaya from the land or whatever of Kathy's market produce wasn't going to survive another day in the heat.

Energy school, Kathy as the guinea pig
Energy school crew
The first week included lots of time spent with the Energy School folks. Inner Dance from Sarah, me and others, Reiki from Claire, intuitive art therapy with Sarah, sound healing from El Kalinado, yoga from Tara, and lots of other healing was shared. Kathy was often the V.I.P., most-in-need-of-healing character who became the center of different sessions. There was one special moment when Pi began to give Kathy a "massage", which was more like reflexology/acupressure than massage. Kathy went into a trance, so Pi called over a Claire, a Reiki master from the UK who was nearby. I was on a totally different part of the property but must have sensed what was happening because my mind went to her the moment they started and I was there by the time she was in a trance. At one point I was channeling some of the emotional blockages and helping them to clear. By the end, 11 people had their hands on Kathy in a group healing session. When she returned to consciousness an hour later, she was surprised to see so many people around her. It was the first major step in her healing process. Wisdom, lessons, and consciousness came from conversations with different people, from the collection of amazing books at Maia, and from the Earth herself.

My own transformation was equally as intense as Kathy's. I cleaned all of the pain from the past and fears of the future. I completed the journey I had been on for several years - I found my Inner Child. It included more than just play, release of insecurities, or a childhood that was lost. It was finding my Birth Vision as a healer and some of the other reasons I am here on Earth in this lifetime. It was accepting my soul family - oneness with Mother Earth, Father Sun, God-Creator Universe, and everything in existence. And that inevitably led my attention back to my own family. The healing that happened from a distance between myself and my family was deeper and more broad than any healing could have been before I left for SE Asia. It was so fitting that my aunt was there to spark and nurture that healing process as I was sparking and nurturing hers.

Buying a machete to donate to Maia
Permaculture in practice - making hugoculture beds
At one point, I hit an energetic rock bottom like I'd never experienced before in life. Kathy began to become more comfortable, and the rest of us became less and less comfortable as our individual examples changed. For example, in my own experience, I had bug bits and cuts that became to get infected, and eventually my lower limbs were covered in poultices and bandages with neosporin that I changed daily but that took months to heal. I could barely walk for much of my time in Maia. I was having trouble opening my lungs up to full inhalation. One day, in the span of two hours I received more than 500 mosquito bites. I watched it happen and was helpless to stop it. The flies moved in after the mosquitoes left and opened up many of the bites into infected sores that would stay open for many weeks. For almost two weeks, I couldn't keep food ;in me. Even a banana would pass through me in less than 30 minutes, but then again, I'd lost all appetite for food, water, or air - the basics of life. I felt like I was dying. I was completely depleted and I wasn't desperate to heal any faster than I was. No desire to live was left. And yet, I was one with everything, and what I was experiencing was perfect. I was able to read and retain minimal bits of information. The rest of my time was spent trying to jump-start my body and spirit in whatever method I could while healing my relationship with my family from afar. I was altering my perspective on the relationship as well as the energetic flow among all of us. I was almost always planted up in Kathy's hammock (she was using my tent by then - a good trade for what we both needed).

Sunrise contemplation
Puerto Princesa friends
In my first week on the rise from rock bottom, I was preparing to get back up in the coconut trees. It was a meditative process in itself, managing with the height, the ants, spiders, bees, and possibility of a snake or scorpion or ornery squirrel up in the tree. The weather was bright, the air clear, my lungs full, and my body energized for the first time in weeks. The rope for lowering the coconut bunches down from the tree was slung over my shoulder. After a dozen steps, I tripped and fell (I never fall while walking), the machete at my side flew away into the grass, and fire burned on my neck. I saw the bright blue-and-red centipede climb back into the rope, land on the ground, and scurry off into the grass near the machete. I thought I was ready to get back up and Do some stuff again, but Maia had other plans. Grounded again with a poultice of hibiscus held to my jugular artery, I went back to the books and hoped the coconuts would last until we could pay someone from the village next door to climb our trees for us.

Playing with local kids
The people of the village were kind and coping with the introduction of processed sugars, gasoline, electricity, and a road, all changes from the last 5 years or less. They would begin each morning before sunrise with oldies blaring through blown karaoke machines. They would close each evening with oldies blaring through the same machine but with some woman or man wailing their way through the song at twice the volume of the already cacophonous background music. Filipinos love music

One place could always give peace and healing. It was the most serene beach you'd ever see, a lagoon that was on the verge of becoming developed when we left. Nagtabon was shallow, clean, quiet, and secluded, hardly another person could be seen, and not once did I find a piece of trash in the sand or water. Tara and Kathy decided that it would be her final test if she was strong enough to walk the 45-minute trek over the rocky road to and from the beach on her own feet. There usually wasn't any alternative anyway. In her last week at Maia, she walked to and from twice and was more energetic than any of the rest of us who were half her age. By the end of her six weeks there, the rest of us were completely depleted and she had adopted a role as mother for all of our own processes, including Sarah and Pi. She was the picture of radiance, her life perspective completely changed, her body flowing with energy and health.

Gearing up to walk to Nagtabon

Before we left, we had the chance to visit Sarah's mentor, Janet. She was a shaman who lived near Puerto Princesa. The idea was for her to work on Kathy a little, but she noticed Kathy's glow and my weakness, so she ended up working on me more. She also served us our first real cooked meal in months. Boy did we eat that ginger pumpkin and green beans! Kathy and I cleaned our plates feeling like pigs. We boarded our plane hours later with profound renewal, inspiration, and wisdom.

Back to Cebu
Dining table of Maian Philosophy
We flew back to Cebu after 6 weeks at Maia. We were lucky to visit a couple of tourist spots near the city, and we spent a couple of days on the eastern coast of Cebu island at Tony's second home. The most serene space I've ever stayed in, it's a traditional Filipino home of hard woods and open spaces. The nearest town was called Balamban, and Tony's family owned most of the farmland in the area. Kathy and I spent several days there processing all that had happened. Each day was one big, long, slowly-eaten meal laden with deep conversation and reflection. We took so much pleasure in nourishment and more complex flavors than what we were used to in Maia. It was much-needed nourishment of soul and body.

Relaxing in Balamban
A helper playing Josephine in Balamban
Kathy's bright vibration was dulled by bad news from home. Her sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, her boyfriend had gotten fearful and possessive in her absence, her daughter whose right to parent her own children had been removed by the court was pregnant again, and Tony, our host, was facing all kinds of pressure from his siblings' families visiting at the same time and his father was back in the hospital. Kathy's transition back home was quickly going to become an alpine climb to the summit of healing. The work wasn't over yet. Only hours after she boarded her plane back home loaded with lots of extra gear from me, Tony's father passed away. Depleted as I was, I shifted from holding space for Kathy's healing to helping hold space for the passing of Tony's father. It seemed I had more lessons to learn in death and illness. My Birth Vision as a healer was beginning to lay out the first stones of my path.

What a place to live!
I think I can speak for Kathy when I say that Maia and Cebu are now part of who we are and how we operate. It was a powerful experience with lessons to learn every moment of every day. We were so thankful and blessed to have such an experience.

Wax flowers of the ginger family