People were still walking around the gallery when we began sitting down on a circle of chairs. I started the workshop by asking them to introduce themselves and describe their most favorite walk route. I introduced myself and told them about the road I used to visit almost every afternoon back in Pangasinan. The road that will later be named Snake Road.
I told them how I felt like I owned the road in the past, how I would lie down on the side looking at the stars after farmers have gone home—farmers I personally know. I told them how I left Pangasinan a couple of months after it was cemented—after motorcycle riders, Tiktokers, vendors, and teenagers began flocking every afternoon on what was once my favorite walk route.
I passed the baton to the person on my right and listened to participant stories of their favorite routes. Lea said that her favorite walking route might just be the route we are walking this afternoon. Benjie said that the academic oval at UP Diliman is his favorite walking route. Maui mentioned the place he grew up in at Quezon City. Abbey said Sampaloc Lake. Kuya Icktoy said he likes walking at the beach. Uwa said he’s favorite walking route is life itself—a walk where he encounters many people whom he could show kindness to. Bien mentioned Roxas Boulevard, where one could walk along Manila Bay. And Cha, mentioned a farm she stayed in at Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
After the introductions, I told them that the walk we are performing this afternoon is more about attention than it is about walking. Walking will simply be a tool to train attention. I told them that attention is life a gift that we offer to someone. The more we offer it and the higher the quality we offer, the more chance of building relationship. Love and friendship grows from the mulch of attention.
I then told them that this afternoon’s walk will offer attention to three receivers: Kapuwa (Other), Pook (Place), and Sarili (Self). How will we do it? We would divide the walk into three parts. On the first leg (the walk towards), we would focus on Kapwa. The second leg (the rest), we would focus on Pook. Lastly, on the last leg, we would focus on Sarili.
The walk would be a practice of being here in the present moment. Instead of using the breath as anchor for attention, we would use kapuwa, pook, and sarili consecutively. After this introduction, I asked everyone to join me outdoors to start the first leg of the walk.
Nasa Kapuwa ang Ili: Home is in the Other
I divided the group into pairs. Then I read the poem “Sabay Tayo” by Inggo. Then we started walking.
We started the walk outside Sining Makiling Gallery and continued to Freedom Park before turning left to Pili Drive and entering an interior dirt road that was near Molawin Creek.
Nearly after the walk started, I received my first feedback from Benjie, “Take it slow, Vince. Tatay Icktoy is with us.” I looked back at the 75-year-old man who decided to do the walk with us.
“Ok, I will. Or I will wait for you,” I said. Marky saw us from afar and ran toward us. “I will join the walk,” he said. He was playing volleyball with some friends. “Why did you left your friends?” I asked him. “It is you I want to be with,” he answered.
Before the walk started, I shared a few reminders. I reminded everyone that discomfort is inherent in any walk and that we would be treating it as part of our training this afternoon. I also told them that despite us having a plan, I am open to making changes if the present moment asks so. Marky suddenly joining us is the first change. I thought I would be walking the first leg alone. But there I was doing exactly what the first leg was designed to do: connect with Kapuwa.
On the corner of Freedom Park and Pili Drive, Hogar, another LB friend saw us from his bike and decided to join the walk. Not being briefed about the design of the walk, he started talking with everyone. I let it be. This exactly is what supposed to happen.
Nasa Pook ang Ili: Home is in Place
We entered the interior. I heard Abbey say, “Uwa and I rode our bikes until the end of this concrete. We turned back.”
And now we’re walking the rest of the road. And I know Uwa and Abbey will like what they will see very much.