The E-Motive program, established in 2006 by Oxfam Novib (Holland), is a worldwide network of organizations that seek innovative solutions to global and local problems. E-motive facilitates the exchange of experience and links related methodologies coming from different latitudes.
Since 2013, this program, which is financed by the European Union, receives its impetus from Holland, Poland, and Spain. In Spain the Spanish NGOD Coordination Platform selected as best practices in the area of art for social transformation the methodology Playing and Acting, promoted by InteRed and Kieu Project, and the work of the company Cross Border Project.
As their fellow traveler these agents In turn chose PETA, the Philippine Educational Theater Association, because of its extensive experience and because it is a global pacesetter in the field of community and educational theater.
Thus begun this story brimming with games, theater, affinities, creations, reconstructions and transformations, a powerful and valuable exchange between the Philippines and Spain.
Our E-motive Encounter, by Belén de Santiago Chércoles, member of Cross Border Project
In March 2015, a group of nine people, from the fields of art, theater, games, education and cooperation, arrived in Manila to meet with the Philippine company PETA, which is a role model in Asia for theater work, education and social transformation. We were coming from Kieu Project, ONG InteRed and Cross Border Project, and we had been selected as agents for change in Spain by the NGOD Coordination Platform for its E-motive program of exchange for cultural learning. Our group, composed of six Spaniards, and one member each from Mexico, Belgium and Uruguay embarked on a thirty-hour trip, eager to make the most of each activity that our Filipino counterparts had prepared. Several months later, in August, we welcomed three members of PETA Theater to Spain for a second encounter, held in the municipality of Rioseco, Valladolid province. The Rioseco community as well as professionals from the performing arts and education in Spain were invited to the encounter. The aim: to learn together, share methodologies, and establish ties between the two countries.
Presentation of participating organizations and their methodologies
Today, PETA is a major organization, composed of a performing arm, Kalinangan Ensemble; The School of People’s Theater; PETA Metropolitan Teen Theater League program; a Children’s Theater Program; the Arts Zone Project, which advocates child safety; and the MEKONG PARTNERSHIP PROJECT.
Since 2005 it is housed in the PETA Theater Center, and through these programs, it continues to pursue its dream of empowering people and society with each gesture, word, image, sound, expression and creative learning experience.
The Cross Border Project CBP originated in New York as a personal project of Lucía Miranda. In 2012, it settled in Spain, with a group of artists who were working in the areas of the theater, education and social transformation.
The Cross Border Project is an initiative for social and cultural innovation, made up of a theater company, a School of Applied Theater and a Kitchen. It is a space in which to research and develop projects with other groups and disciplines.
The Cross Border, which is simultaneously local and international in spirit, has carried out projects in places that are as different from each other as Rivas-Vaciamadrid, Medina de Rioseco and Dakar, since Cross Borders can perform in Spanish, English and French.
Jugar y Actuar, nuestras armas para la paz (Playing and Acting, Our Weapons for Peace) – Jugar y Actuar (Playing and acting) is a lively methodology for personal and collective transformation, based on the effectiveness of play-acting. It was founded in 2011, as an offshoot of an ONGD InteRed project; at present it is also promoted by the Kieu Project. It emerged from an encounter between two professionals, María Díaz and Nicolás Cost, who had complementary professional experience in actor training, non-formal education, cooperation and development education.
Inspired by such diverse practices as the theater of the oppressed, cooperative games, and Freire’s pedagogy, Jugar y Actuar reformulates the meaning of education and educational work. It offers persons and groups 1001 opportunities at play-acting to enable them to reflect upon themselves and their surroundings.
La Ludopedagogía de La Mancha (Pedagogy through Games of La Mancha) is an essentially political approach, since its primary goal is to foster individual and collective behavior and acts committed to the transformation of reality; the effective modification of the objective and subjective conditions of human existence, in the pursuit of the complete development of human beings, with the satisfaction of all their basic needs, towards enrichment of their quality of life and the full exercise of their human rights, within a framework of deep respect for diversity and the sustainability of the environment. Like the work that is shared by other groups in this encounter, E-Motive is an open, unfinished result, the fruit of a long search for and commitment to transformation, freedom and dignity of all persons.
The “Ludo” joined this E-motive encounter through the bonds that have moved and will always move the world: friendship and love. It had been selected in 2015 for another E-motive encounter, one involving Spain and Uruguay, where this methodology originated. It joined the encounter between Spain and the Philippines because one of La Mancha’s members, Fabián Tellechea, Watu, is now living in Spain and is the partner of a colleague from InteRed. Based on the substantial connections existing with the other participants, Ludopedagogía, with characteristic simplicity and resilience, has carved out a place for itself in this Spanish-Philippine encounter, by making an enormous theoretical and practical contribution to our learning.
But where would we go? With whom would we share the rich experience of departure and return? The questions led us to Young Idea, an international encounter held in Paris for professionals in the performing arts and education, in which members of the Cross Border Project team had the honor to participate. It was there that Lucía Miranda, the company’s director, fell in love with PETA Theater, a Filipino theater and education company that stood out for the enthusiasm and commitment of its members, the quality of its artistic and performing techniques, and for its effective and concrete methodology. It is a model of applied theater; its nearly fifty years of experience vouch for the Philippine Educational Theater Association as a benchmark of artistic quality and social transformation.
E-motive approved the Philippines as our destination. From opposite ends of the globe we started to design a project that could make the most of a 10-day stay in the country and to conceptualize a way to make this learning a two-way street through a second visit, this time by Filipinos to Spain. The first took the form of an intensive program proposed by the Philippine team, which made it possible for us to visit Manila, Leyte and The Philippine High School for the Arts in Los Baños. The second resulted in the organization by the Spanish team of an encounter with professionals and the community of Medina de Rioseco in the province of Valladolid, with the participation of three PETA members, the three Spanish organizations (Cross Border Project, InteRed, Kieu Project), and our now inseparable friends from La Mancha. The Provincial Council of Valladolid and the Town Council of Medina de Rioseco participated in this “return” encounter, by lending facilities and work areas in Rioseco. The visit was not limited to Rioseco. It was followed up by an encounter in Madrid and an encounter with the youth and the residents of Numancia de la Sagra, a municipality in the province of Toledo, with the cooperation of the local authorities and several local associations.
E-MOTIVE IN THE PHILIPPINES IN APRIL 2015
At the time, we could not imagine that that meeting would be the start of a beautiful partnership between Spain and the Philippines.
By sharing our performance and our workshop, which reflected our situation in the Philippines, we gave the other participants in IDEA’s congress the opportunity to get to know the way we work in the Philippines. We got feedback from some participants, who were surprised when reminded that the purpose of theater is not only to serve as a means of expression or as a laboratory, but that theater is also an instrument for discourse and social transformation. This was the basic premise of PETA, which defines theater as a necessity for cultural development and identity. It was our mission of using theater arts, through our workshops and advocacy plays that awakened the interest of Lucía Miranda and the entire group of Cross Border Project in establishing a relationship with us that would go beyond the IDEA Congress.
Two years later, with the help of the E-motive program, a venue was created for exchange between the Philippines and Spain. Apart from the Cross Borders, other groups, such as InteRed, Kieu Project and La Mancha also showed interest in PETA. The first part of the exchange consisted in a visit by the Spanish contingent to the Philippines to get to know PETA. I was assigned to be liaison for this first part and to coordinate and collaborate in creating a program that would maximize the PETA experience for the contingent from Spain.
Since the Spanish contingent visited the Philippines in summer, there were no performances that they could watch. However, summer was the peak season of PETA’s school program, with very many workshops that our guests could observe and experience. The first scheduled activity upon their arrival was getting to know the PETA Theater Center, the organization’s dream that was finally realized in 2005. PETA is the only theater organization in the Philippines that has its own building, with a library, offices, studios and a black-box theater. It was in this same theater where we shared with the Spanish contingent a taste of our history, operations, organizational structure and methodology. But a guided visit of our headquarters was not enough, we had to go one step further.
We had to take them to a place where they would see PETA in action, with the people the organization is truly working for.
It was in Palo, Leyte, where they really grasped the spirit of what PETA does. Lingap Sining: Nurturing Hearts through the Arts, is a program of resilience and disaster-risk reduction managed by the community itself for the survivors of typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, in 2013. The Spanish contingent arrived in Leyte just in time to visit an art camp, designed to offer the youngsters of Leyte a psychosocial intervention using PETA’s methodology. The Spanish contingent was divided into different teams, and each team was assigned one of the teacher-artists who worked with youngsters from different places. In a way, the group’s experience with the Lingap Sining program gave greater depth to the artistic exchange, since the group members felt that they were able to share PETA’s organization, facilitation and the value of faith in each other.
Lucía Miranda and the other group members saw the vision that PETA and the other participating groups shared. I myself, as a mere observer, felt the same positive energy of convergence among the groups. Everyone felt that they were not alone, everyone was affirmed in their desire to generate change – within their own group, their community or their respective countries – through the theater arts.
This cultural exchange made it possible for us to unite and to combine our efforts in order to make an impact on the creation of effective projects through our passion to create.
Now that the 50th anniversary of its foundation is approaching, PETA’s continuing effort to foster change through the arts, by empowering each individual for the purpose of giving hope to the entire country and its people, has achieved recognition at the local as well as international levels. In particular, the exchange with Cross Border, Kieu Project, InteRed and La Mancha has served to reaffirm PETA’s mission and the mission of each of the Spanish groups.
Now that it is the turn of PETA’s representatives to visit Spain, the members of the Philippine group are excited about the opportunity to get to know better the work and initiatives of the Spanish organizations. The exchange will continue to grow and to expand, in order to further promote the use of the theater arts for the benefit of society.
Operation Philippines, the E-Motive Encounter in Spain (August 2015)
After the experience in the Philippines, the members of the Spanish delegation to this E-motive encounter were very moved as we resumed our usual work in our respective communities in Spain. The members of The Cross Border Project company started the rehearsals for their next production (Nora, 1959), which was to open in Madrid in November 2015. We, the members of the Kieu Project, resumed our work to make the territory of La Sagra more dynamic through various youth projects. Our colleagues in InteRed continued their daily work of education and development cooperation. And the colleagues in Ludopedagogía, from their base in Zaragoza, continued searching for and creating spaces for games and education in Spain.
The “return” encounter was to take place in August; seen from March, that date still seemed far off. We had already decided while we were in still in Manila the main thrusts that would guide our planning. Owing to our characteristics – we were four small organizations with common values and common methodologies, yet our profiles were different – we would have to coordinate our work to prevent PETA’s visit to Spain from becoming a series of disjointed activities. We wanted the visit to have internal coherence. Due to our different dimensions and the different degrees of systematization of our respective processes and methodologies, we had much to learn from each other, and we did not want to miss the opportunity offered by the visit to strengthen the ties and the network among ourselves, in Spain.
Added to these considerations was our strong desire to share with other social and theater groups in Spain the transformative discovery that we had made when we got to know PETA’s methodology and its almost 50 years of experience and work with different audiences and communities. Based on these variables we decided that when PETA came to visit Spain, in August 2015, we would organize a four- or five-day encounter, during which each one of our groups would showcase our work, the work of each group, so that PETA would see us in action, and we would give PETA the venue to demonstrate its methodology to the community of professionals from the theater, education and community work operating in Spain.
Taking into account our own socio-economic context and the recent experiences of the Philippines, we decided that the theme of our encounter would be “change”. These ideas took shape in Manufacturing Change: Theater, Education and Community Encounter, which was held from 5 to 10 August 2015 in Medina de Rioseco, Valladolid.
Fifteen people from the organizing bodies (Kieu Project, InteRed, The Cross Border Project and La Mancha), 3 PETA artist-educators, or a total of 18 coordinators-facilitators, participated in the encounter, in which they were joined by 32 men and women from the whole of Spain and part of Europe and Latin America, all of them active professionals in the theater, education and community work.
The participants’ response to the encounter was prompt and tremendous. The allotted seats were sold out in two weeks, and even if the number of participants was increased, there were interested people who were unable to participate. The response showed us the need for the members of the collective of professionals committed to social transformation, education and art to engage with each other. This area of work is still very new and unknown in Spain. Hence the people who are devoting their efforts and joy to this work need to know that they are part of a peer group alongside which they can grow and continue constructing their daily work. They seek persons that they can call on to discuss concerns or share achievements and difficulties. The need to recognize the group as part of a collective, to put names to faces, to create a network and to share experiences was one of the driving forces of the encounter. It facilitated communication, conviviality and motivation among all those present. The methodologies based on games and the theater were the perfect tools for an encounter among people, while at the same time providing the contents of the training scheduled in the program.
Manufacturing change also made room for the participation of the local population, in the workshops as well as in the final exhibit and other activities included in the program. All in all, the participants, residents, and organizers had the chance to enjoy 50 practically uninterrupted hours of games and theater spread out over different workshops and spaces of non-formal education. These activities enabled us to immerse ourselves in the parallel and magical worlds of the imagination, childhood, discovery, stories and creativity…all for the purpose of getting to know each other better and creating more conscious and transformative communities.
PETA Theater’s visit got off to a flying start with the encounter in Medina de Rioseco, and continued with a heavy schedule of activities at the head offices of the different organizing bodies in Spain. In Madrid, The Cross Border Project opened for PETA the doors of its rehearsal room, where Nora, 1959 is in the making. PETA members thus acquired a better understanding of the way that The Cross Border Project utilized documentary theater techniques in order to get into the life of a woman living in the period following the Spanish Civil War. Her life reflects that of Nora in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, which is one of the points of departure chosen by Cross Border for this creation.
A meeting was also held in Madrid with the person in charge of international cooperation projects with the Philippines at the NGOD InteRed. The meeting gave PETA and InteRed the opportunity to acquire more in-depth knowledge of the human development projects that both are implementing in the Philippines.
A few days later, PETA Theater, which was again accompanied by La Mancha, went to visit Numancia de La Sagra, in Toledo, for an encounter with the young people involved in Kieu Project’s activities. They exchanged experience regarding their work with young people and their involvement in activities in different countries. They discussed the objectives, problems, and achievements of each of the organizations present in their local work, and their linkages despite geographic distance. It was not just the youth, it was the whole town of Numancia de La Sagra that was present during the visit, for the following day, an open workshop was held. Thanks to the workshop, PETA and La Mancha were able to share their methodologies with the residents, who are members of theater associations and collectives in the town. Together we strengthened human relations and the social tissue, which is the common denominator of the different practices that this E-motive Encounter pooled.
PETA Theater’s visit to Spain ended with a weekend of conviviality and evaluation, in which the 18 coordinators/facilitators of the entire experience participated. The evaluation and deliberations concluded that the visit was a success, and that moreover, it was necessary to continue improving and adapting our working methods and our joint decisions. The fundamental consideration that brought together the different participating organizations and that was the most important point highlighted during the evaluation was everyone’s determination and the need felt by everyone to continue working and learning together, even if we are in different places. Everyone felt the desire to continue creating moments and spaces for sharing the progress that each one has made. Sharing could make us realize that while we are working locally every day, our colleagues are also doing so at the same time, with the common goal of generating the global changes required for a better life for all and for the planet.
No experience can replace human encounter that is respectful, attentive and profound. There is nothing as transformative or as enriching as bringing together people with common interests and values. I have presented to you the overall picture and the different phases in the “outgoing” and “return” trips involved in the E-motive encounter between the Philippines and Spain. A collective space-time kneaded with the ingredients of creativity and experience of working with groups of people; seasoned with respect and the intense desire to continue learning; and cooked over the fire of inspirations and passions that shared work awakens in us – and the table is set! The resulting meal has been both nutritious and delicious and we all want another get-together.