2017 Learning Programs

Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary is announcing its Learning Programs for 2017. Included in the line-up are activities in Care for the Earth, Indigenous Wisdom, Wellness and the Arts. Please download the brochure for more details.

MES Brochure 2017

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BOOK REVIEW: From Elders to Children

In a world where some kids have never tasted a guava, where other kids will refuse to eat red rice, where countless kids have never dipped their feet in a cold mountain stream with clean rushing water, where we don’t pay attention to birdsong, where many don’t have an ilito which they proudly belong, where parents are afraid to set their children free so they can roam far and wide and come home covered in puriket– in a world such as this, this book is precious.

In a world where so much happens too quickly, and our senses are constantly bombarded with thousands of signals, “From Elders to Children” reminds us to sloooooooowwww dooooooowwwwwwwnnnn… and to pay attention to how we live and love. Together, Judy Cariño-Fangloy, Merci Dulawan, Vicky Macay, Maria Elena Regpala, and Lucia Ruiz have made a gift that kids can open again and again. At the same time, they have presented today’s parents with a pause button disguised as a book. The cover art by Clemente Delim and the illustrations by Merci Dulawan invite us to look beyond the obvious and see things differently.

These stories of wisdom from the Cordillera remind us of the joys of a simple, quiet life. In the story “Rich and Poor” for example, a wealthy father and son spend the night with a poor family living in a bamboo hut. The boy learns a way of seeing, in which those who have the light of the stars by night are richer than those who have electricity, but can’t see the stars. The rich boy describes a paradox of “modern” living when he says to his father, “Our house is fenced so no troublemaker can enter; but they have no fence and all their friends are free to enter.” This is echoed in the sections on Sharing and Caring, and Living in Community.

A special kind of ethic can be gleaned from the sections entitled Waste Not, Respect for the Unseen, and Caring for the Land that Sustains Us. It is an ethic of reciprocity that extends beyond the human community, to include plants, animals, the elements, and the unseen. It’s the same ethic that fills the pages of this book’s ancestor volume, Indigenous Earth Wisdom, by the same wise women of Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary.

In one of my favorite stories, Vicky Macay recalls hours of unstructured Childhood Games, and making toys from recycled things. In these games and in other stories scattered throughout the book, the outdoors provides kids with countless adventures and exercises in dexterity, creativity, and resourcefulness that no playground or phone app could ever match. It’s a little funny to say “the outdoors”, when what we really mean is nature, the world we live in and the world that nurtures us! By accepting the illusion that we and our children are safer indoors, we forget that almost everything we need is provided by things that come from “the outdoors”. In this book, children spend hours playing – and working with their families! – outside, under the sun, in the water, or the mud.

Once on a visit to a Dumaget community in the Sierra Madre, I met a boy who refused to go to school. He was about 9 or 10 years old. He said it was too noisy in the town where the school was. He was happier in the mountains, near the forest and the river. His parents said apologetically that he couldn’t read or write. But when we went for a walk along the river with him, he brought us wild fruits to taste, he pointed out and named so many different plants. If we pointed at something and asked if it was planted or wild, and if it could be eaten, he would laugh at our questions and answer with confidence. He dove into the depths of the river and where we couldn’t see anything, he speared three fish in a matter of minutes. While it may be true that he did not know how to read words, he knew how to read nature, and he knew how to move through nature. We were the illiterates.

His is a different kind of literacy, a literacy that we are losing. The stories in this book challenge us to learn how to read nature. And we will have to add to this knowledge too. With climate change looming over our lives and our children’s future, we need to retool our literacy so we can read both the science and the signs that matter.

In the section on Our Elders Wisdom the reader is reminded of the comfort grandparents give us with their presence, their stories, and their memories, which are also our histories. But do not read this book to your kids as a collection of stories from these elders’ past. Do not read the stories to your kids as folk tales or fairy tales. Do not read this book with cynical eyes.

Instead, read this book as an inventory of things we must show our kids and enjoy with them: tinawon growing in the terraces, tinawon cooking in a pot, tinawon between the teeth and on the tongue, the tikgui and idaw birds, toy-making, tree-climbing, pako, camote, rituals, gongs, dances, the sharing of food at a community celebration, and much, much more. When you read these stories with your kids I hope that they will ask (if they don’t already know), “What is puriket? Where can we find some?” It is their right to know, and to go.

Read this book as a parenting manual on ancestral child-rearing. In this book kids are capable of joining the work of grownups, kids are entrusted with important tasks, they make their own decisions on gift giving, and they are not excluded from important community gatherings.

If we read this book actively and seek its parallels around us, in the HERE and NOW, we and our children may yet keep alive the gracious world that these stories describe.

The world needs all of us to keep these stories true.

Now enough of the boring, grownup talk. Hey kids! Do you want to find your super powers by going on adventures and discovering new ways of seeing the world? You can start right now by doing three simple things:

1) Play outside as often as you can!

2) Ask your parents to read this book with you! And,

3) Ask plenty of questions.


December 8, 2016



Climate Change Consciousness Week 2016

Climate Change Consciousness Week 2016 at Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary started with a forum on “Global Situation of Water and Food Security,” on December 1, 2016. Sr. Marvie Misolas, MM, gave a presentation on the looming water crisis on a global scale. Mita Dimalanta spoke on “Water is Wealth”, focusing on the water situation in Baguio City. Discussions on the floor were lively, as the participants realized the urgent need to take action on the issue of water.

Jefferson Laruan, owner of Lily of the Valley Organic Farms, and Gawad Saka Regional Awardee for 2 years, led a one-day discussion on “Growing your own food” on the occasion of Climate Change Consciousness Week at Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary. The participants were thankful to learn how to have a supply of safe, healthy, and nutritious food for their families by growing their own food. The day’s discussions centered on organic farming awareness, soil management, seeds and plant management, pest management and harvest.


“Seed Saving for Climate Resilience” was the topic of discussion on the third day of Climate Change Consciousness Week at Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary, December 3, 2016. Sherry Manning and Karen Lee Hizola of the Friends of Enca Farm gave a presentation on seed saving, its importance and the global farmers actions to take back control of the world’s seed resources. Participants tried to identify seeds of various food crops, and saw the difference between organic seeds which are saved by farmers and the chemical laden seeds available on the market.


"Peace is my nature, love is my action, and happiness is the result”. This was a constant message of Ms. Becky Ortega, Brahma Kumaris facilitator of the “Inner Optimism and Resilience Change Maker Workshop” on November 28 and 29, 2016, in preparation for Climate Change Consciousness Week. MES staff and partners participated in the 2-day workshop which focused on inner values, meditation, and inner optimism and resilience.



(click image to enlarge)

Imagine a time when life was simple, and stories were told around a fire. With an open mind, let us listen to the voice of the elders, as they share of an ancient wisdom that was nurtured and handed down through the ages.

These stories talk about many things – about a day’s work, about grandparents who had gone ahead to the afterlife, about strange events. These timeless tales look to the past, but also strike a chord within us, though we live in modern times. These stories teach us to appreciate the gifts of nature, and discover simple things we can do to care for the earth, to care for others, and to give respect to the unseen spirits around us.

The storybook has seven chapters which focus on the following:

Our elders’ wisdom

A simple life

Waste not

Sharing and caring

Living in community

Respect for the unseen spirits

Caring for the land that sustains us

Lessons on these themes are passed on through these stories, which are child-friendly and easy to understand.

We started working on this book in March of this year, and just like a baby in the womb of her mother, this book took nine months before being ready to be born. To come up with the stories, we did field visits, interviews, endless draft writing, reading, and critiquing. This was a learning process of each of us, as we shared and received comments on our latest drafts of each story. Our biggest challenge was how to speak in the language of children.

And now, may I introduce to you my colleagues who worked on this book, members of the project team:

Merci Dulawan, Vicky Macay, Maria Elena Regpala and Lucia Ruiz.

Our project team was lucky to have the guidance of the Maryknoll sisters Nora Maulawin and Lourdes Fernandez, and the support of the Mission Projects Funding of the Maryknoll Sisters of Saint Dominic.

The cover artwork and illustrations were competently done by Clemente Delim, resident artist of Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary; and Merci Dulawan. Lay-out was done by Paul Michael Nera. We would like to thank Valley Printing Specialist, especially Sanirose Comeda, for delivering the books in time for this book launch.


Now that the book is finally out, we hope it reaches the children for whom it is intended, and that through these stories, they begin to explore a world that is gentle, loving, and full of surprises.

Time will pass, and the children of today will soon grow to be the elders of tomorrow. Let these wise tales keep the fire burning for the storytellers of the future. Let these stories teach and nourish us with a sense of community and respect.


And let the wisdom live on in stories told, from elders to children.


December 8, 2016



Do You Have a Worldwide Heart?

Maryknoll Sisters are women of faith committed to the mission of Jesus so God’s love, peace and justice may be proclaimed, witnessed to, received, suffered for and celebrated throughout the world.

As missioners, we cross geographic boundaries engaging and valuing diversities of cultures, societies, races and religions. We seek to respond to the hungers and needs of the times: human trafficking, immigration issues, ecological concerns, peace, spiritual hunger and reconciliation.

We offer our talents and expertise while being life-long learners and collaborators with the people to whom we go. We express our vocation through our presence and services as medical professionals, teachers, theologians, social workers, pastoral ministers, journalists, therapists, promoters of peace and trauma healing, supporters of indigenous rights, artists, earth and cosmic care advocates, community developers, and partners in prayer.

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