Duyan 2019: Rationale


Duyan brings together national and international thought leaders in the arts and healing practices. This event is an opportunity to listen, participate, and learn with a community sharing a common advocacy for healing and wellbeing.

Duyan connotes a safe space that holds someone for their own expression and discovery of themselves.  In Filipino culture, duyan is often associated with calm, relaxation or rest. As an intention for this event, it describes the encompassing nature of the expressive arts for rest, renewal, and rejuvenation of creativity. 

In the foundations of Expressive Arts, the therapeutic nature of the creative process is defined to include imagination, play, and the arts, and co-founder of the approach Paolo J. Knill identifies this as one of humans’ rites of restoration. As part of humans’ rituals of change, rites of restoration acknowledges characteristics of the healing process in human lives. The expressive arts encourage healing in context of suffering, conflict, or crisis, as a “restored cultural binding without necessarily presupposing a complete ‘healing’ of the individual’s distress or condition.” (Knill, 2005) This is to say that the arts can help people into a process of restoration, without pre-empting what the journey and outcome of restoration may look like.

Rites of restoration also acknowledge that suffering, conflict, and crisis can come from one’s “disconnection from fellow humans and the consequent loss of binding within the community.”  From a sociological perspective, humans in general have developed ways of living in context of community. Ritual, or these ways of living, can be considered as having three main aspects

“… an initial period of separation from one’s social group and role, followed by a period in which one is in the ‘margin’ between two different social statuses, concluding with an integration into a new social group with a new identity recognized by all its members.” 

van Gennep, 1960, qtd. in Levine, 2005

Community is a key word here, and a word Duyan also intends to anchor on. Filipinos are no strangers to the power of community. From our history to our globally recognized traits of hospitality and pakikisama, our inclination towards community can reflect much about our indigenous roots. This makes for fertile ground for discourse on the intersection of art and healing, as the expressive arts is also an approach based on indigenous practices. Our own indigenous roots are explored in relation to wellbeing in this workshop. How does the Filipino restore cultural binding? What are the Filipino’s rites of restoration?

What are the Filipino’s rites of restoration?

An openness toward a discourse on wellbeing in the Philippines is gradually developing. With the mental health law being passed in 2018, there is growing sensitivity and awareness towards personal wellbeing, and this event is in a prime position to help shape the culture of understanding, acceptance, and responsibility for wellbeing that this country needs. Our modern society makes up one of the most burnt out countries in the Asia Pacific region, with growing suicide rates, high attrition in organizations, and the brain drain phenomenon that sees Filipinos uprooting themselves from their homeland to seek better opportunities in other countries. Our identity as FIlipinos may be described as diasporic, and that does not just apply to those who settle overseas; it applies as well to our modern nature of being in a natural state of comparison to other nationalities, to our unrelenting recovery from colonial mentality. 

The Filipino people are a creative people. Our shared history has given our culture the liminality that is needed to give birth to creativity. Liminality is defined as:

a time of confusion and powerlessness, as old identities are abandoned and nothing yet has taken their place; but it is also a time of great creativity, in which one is free to invent new forms of meaning for oneself and for the group to which one belongs.

Levine, 2005

Arguably, it is the chaos of the past that has created the inherent artistry, creativity, and soulfulness in our culture. In the present and future, this gives us potential to harness, material to work with, and hope to bring into whatever challenges arise. While liminality is part of a framework used by expressive arts psychotherapists to process and navigate the therapeutic relationship, through Duyan, we aim to explore how the arts can be a relevant approach in growing a culture of meaning-making and healing in the Filipino community, both on a personal level and on a communal level.

With meaning-making through art, we will find ourselves at an intersection: one with a choice to move towards new perspectives, new understanding, and unity in shaping who we are and what we practice as Filipinos. And that is where we find healing, our own rite of restoration, beginning with the restoration of the culture that cradles us all.