This has to be one of the coolest mandalas I've co-created so far.
The idea was sparked a month ago when my friend Irina made a visit to Sagada. We both lamented the dire lack of sexual consciousness and the dire toll that inexorable over population on the environment and quality of life in the Philippines. A personal experience involving two friends and an accidental pregnancy had brought the issue close to heart.
I reflected that Mandalas are all about raising consciousness. Why not put them to work here?
Why not build a mandala out of thousands of condoms!
It was a crazy thought, but within days the elements began to coalesce. The intention took on a birthing of its own. We met Tyronne and May in Bontoc who resonated with the idea and scheduled it in an upcoming conference. Irina returned to Manila and within a week had secured condoms. Funds then followed.
And... This past Monday, during the Youth Summit for Population, Health and the Environment, we pulled it off!
150 youth leaders from all over Mountain Province arrived and became involved in the co-creation. That morning, Paulo from Frenzy condoms arrived with 3500 condoms in a rainbow of colors. With the help of Lloyd, May and the 'Bontoc United Community for Modern patriots' we began sketching out the design. As the conference progressed, condom by condom, the mandala emerged.
It was a fantastic consciousness raising success! The process involved involved touching, opening, and inspecting condoms. You must understand that here, like many, many other towns in developing countries, most folks have never seen a condom, let alone touched or talked about them. Sex and protection are an unspoken of taboo subject here- despite of course it's ubiquitous inevitable reality among the demographic. Having the condoms around in this playful artistic context gave the youth an opportunity to socialize, laugh and joke around-- busting through fears and naivety.
The provincial Governor passed by to see what we were doing. In a speech praising the activity, he admitted that he too had never seen a condom before. Other speakers likewise talked about how this minimal sexual and reproductive consciousness has a major environmental and social toll.
It was an awesome example of how art and mandalas raise consciousness. The creative process meant the experience of seeing, touching and talking and joking about the condoms.
Irina had been skeptical about opening some of the condoms to add them mandala, thinking it a waste. I too! But at the end, she and I saw it differently. "Now they actually know how to open a condom. They aren't scared of them anymore."
Inspired by the way my lover Sarah does mandalas, we paused the conference, held hands around the mandala, and performed a ritual reading. Together we read and affirmed the intention/prayer: "May the youth of Mountain Province be empowered to be conscious and intentional about using their sexual and creative energy to make the world a better place."
Amen! Let it be so!
At the end of the conference as we processed the experience, the youth were effusive about how they enjoyed and learned from the creative process. A young man got the mike and made a joke. "Today I got a glimpse into the crystal ball of my friends' futures here... You won't be having babies any time soon!"
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Movie to come!