Liwanag 2014: Neo-Bayanihan

Liwanag 2014: a venue for gov’t, business & civil society to organize vs climate change

By Gian Carlo de Jesus

Much has been said about Haiyan, more notoriously known as Yolanda, and how it devastated the country. On the other hand, we also bear witness to the ugly truth that neither government, nor business, and civil society alone is equipped to brave the challenge of seemingly unending disasters.

In what is touted as the “new norm” of Philippine reality, many are helplessly bewildered with questions as to how we are to face such challenges on a yearly basis. On the flipside though, perhaps the more important question which everybody seems to overlook is “can there be positive opportunities that await the Filipino after the chaos?”

On March 27-29, 2014, Iloilo City will host Liwanag 2014, a national gathering of entrepreneurs, individuals, and organizations whose end goal is to answer the most pressing issues in the Philippines and beyond.  This year is bannered by the theme “Disaster: From Chaos to Rebirth.” And its primary objective is to foster partnerships in co-creating integral responses to the challenge of upcoming natural disasters.
The speakers are: Naderev Sano, commissioner, Climate Change Commission; Mark Ruiz of Gawad Kalinga;  former Mayor Alfredo Arquillano, awarded for disaster preparedness work in Camotes Islands;  and Joey Ayala, national artist.  Ayala will hold a fund-raising and Earth Hour concert in the evening of March 29.

Vandana Shiva, Indian environmental activist and anti-globalization author is also expected to inspire participants.

Liwanag 2014 partners are: Iloilo City Government, Iloilo Provincial Government, The Climate Reality Project (Founded by Al Gore), Gawad Kalinga, Civil Military Office (J7), Armed Forces of the Philippines, Movement for a Livable Cebu, iRelief, Municipality of Zarraga (Iloilo), Regina Capital, ABS-CBN Foundation, Bagong Lumad Artists’ Foundation, Inc., Santo Niño de Cebu Augustinian Social Development Foundation, AMURT in the Philippines, Inc. Youth for a Livable Cebu, Office of the Mayor, Bayawan City, Negros Oriental, Office of the Vice-Mayor, San Francisco, Camotes Islands, Permaculture Learning Group-Cebu,  Earth Village Project and Bid Ocean.

The Liwanag World Festival was first held in January 2013 with Davao City hosting the inaugural series of discussions focusing on creativity and sustainability. This planned annual festival is organized by the Movement of Imaginals for Sustainable Societies Through Initiatives, Organizing, and Networking (MISSION), a non-partisan movement of individuals also known as “imaginals,” meaning people who desire to change society through creative and innovative ways.

“Liwanag” is the brainchild of MISSION co-founder Nicanor Perlas, who is also a scientist, social entrepreneur cum political activist and recipient of the 2003 Alternative Nobel Prize.  

More than an apt title for the festival, liwanag, which means “light” in Filipino, serves as basis for it symbolizes enlightenment or deep inner change. The organizers therefore conceptualized the term liwanag “to mean a vital form of creativity, both individual and collective, that can address the most profound challenges the world is facing.”

As stated in the festival concept paper, “The primary purpose of Liwanag 2014 is to stimulate the creation of solution ecosystems in key regions of the country to address the tremendous challenge of natural disasters. By definition, solution ecosystems are carefully, sensitively, and strategically constructed societal partnerships between the many sectors of business, government, and civil society through “threefolding.”

According to Perlas, in his article “Haiyan, Inner Rebirth, Solution Ecosystems, and the Emergence of a New Philippines,” solutions ecosystems and its parent concept of societal threefolding partnerships are “not entirely new for Filipinos.” As a matter of fact, he said that it’s the Philippines which introduced this novel approach to the United Nations during the global meeting of the Commission on Sustainable Development back in 1998. Thus, it is not surprising that threefolding eventually “morphed into the idea of solution ecosystems and eventually became the basis of the partnerships espoused by the UN Millennium Development Goals at the dawn of the 21st century.”

Perlas added that solution ecosystems should come naturally for us since we practically live with a kapwa (We, not “I”) and damay (we are all in this together) orientation which are “societal processes that are so essential in building solutions ecosystems.”  With this, he stated that the Philippines has an “unusually high potential to create threefolding societal partnerships” as evidenced by Cebu becoming an epicenter of current relief operations and has since became a prototype for other cities nationwide.

An invitation
Liwanag is a calling for those who already began this enlightened journey with the victims by simply dropping the idea of buying new clothes and gadgets whilst offering a part of their 13th month pay to donation, by cancelling Christmas parties altogether, by organizing a simple relief operation in their communities, and by offering their prayers of peace and recovery.

If you were one of those who helped post-Yolanda, then be at Liwanag 2014. To register, visit the Liwanag website Or you can contact the secretariat through Iloilo Landline: 033 509 1023 (c/o Regina Capital) Cell Phone: 0928.5041.743 or 0917.4409.471 and email: (PR) 

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