Volunteerism is usually known as a service for disaster relief. People give up their time during emergencies like floods or medical missions. These acts of kindness involve giving to the body. Yet, as human beings, our souls needs to be fed too. Art fulfills this role by awakening one’s sense of wonder. Upon seeing monuments, the spirit is uplifted and reminded of greater goods than those just in the belly. We are reminded that we are human beings that thrive on the good life.
I felt this high when I volunteered for R2R’s tree bombing last February 2 in the Fort. Tree bombing is the art of decorating trees with recycled cloth. I got my hands into it because I found the idea of “owning” a tree in the Fort such an awesome thing to do. I mean anyone can own a condo in the Fort but not a tree.
So, I got up unusually early for Saturday to be part of this one of a kind activity. When I arrived, the R2R artisans were paired with volunteers to teach them basic braiding skills before wrapping the cloth around the trees. My R2R artisan was Junie, who should receive the nanay of the universe award. She earned her space in heaven as she was uber-patient with me as her student. My zero braiding experience made her ask me to restart the cloth braiding countless times till I got it right. Her commitment to excellence was also a testament to R2R’s high standard of quality control.
And as I worked with Junie and other artistans, I understood how art volunteerism can feed the soul by spurring a sense of community. The act of an artisan teaching his or her student builds a human connection in which knowledge and expertise is passed down. The artisan and the student are no longer strangers but collaborators towards the greater good of establishing culture in their community. They now have a bond to do their own part in making sure that wonder and awe is always alive in the places where they live.
And by completing their project together, the artisan and his students create something that they call their own. Their community isn’t just any community. It rightfully becomes their own place as they shape their environment to uniquely reflect who they are as a people. And this is what i see in the Fort’s colorfully wrapped trees. The trees aren’t ordinary trees because they have been imprinted with the DNA of the community And with that, a deeper commitment to the community takes root. Citizens begin to realize that their community is special because it belongs to them.They soon take an effort to protect this identity in small ways like cleaning the trash, recycling and making sure that the surrounding are kept pristine. In short, the standard of wonder is kept alive.
So, all I want to say in this rambling blogpost is that volunteering for art is important. It won’t stop floods nor will it end poverty. Yet, it fulfills the fundamental need for community and keeping the spirit of wonder burning. And by forming a more tight knit community, art plants the seed for citizens to work together to face any issue big or small and this shows that nourishing the soul is as important as feeding the body.
Thank you to R2R and Ayala BCG for making to this event possible.
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