I DON'T KNOW EXACTLY WHEN MY STORY BEGAN.
My body remembers brown women from a long time ago, up to their waists in water, softly moving to the rhythm of the ocean. My body also remembers leather faced, towheaded men, equidistant from mountain and sea, preparing the kill so the kin could eat. All of these nameless ancestors knew the elementals, spirit plants and animals, and celestials – some intimately. These beings were offered song and food and blood and shells. All of this my body remembers.
I believe this is where I was first dreamed into being.
First grade was a significant year in my life. I pester my parents to take me to learn how to meditate – I watch them as they sit and I want to learn. They relent and I bring offerings of flowers, fruit, and one of my precious silver dollars to my godfather who then initiates me. Later, when walking to and back from school, I gently float my new mantra throughout my being.
Shortly after this initiation, I am reciting a Christmas poem at the Daguhoy Hall, a Filipino boarding house and community center in downtown Stockton, CA. The Daguhoy Hall is affiliated with the Legionarios del Trabajo, a fraternal organization with roots in the southern islands of the Philippines, and it provides a much needed space for migrant farmworkers, laborers, and Filipino families to come together. It’s Christmas Eve, and my grandmother and another community elder stand behind me encouraging me to speak. Children are expected to perform. I am in front of a microphone looking out at over a hundred people situated about the perimeter of the room. I forgot the copy of my poem in the car, but I am lucky that I have it memorized. This performance is formative for me: The community listens closely, cheers, and throws money. It is here that I learn the importance of lineage, story, and the sacred movement of community. All of this is valued.
It is, of course, the migrant farm working elders, the poor bachelors who live above the hall and save their coins in glass jars, who throw the most money. Always.
During my childhood I spend many days and nights at the Daguhoy Hall. I attend political meetings, dances, holidays, celebrations, and funeral receptions. Many funerals. Death is sad and scary, but it exists amidst times of dance, celebration, and sacred community. Death is part of the rhythm of living.
My body knows this. Something is always dying and something is always being birthed, all at once.
I am told that I come from a lineage of organizers, storytellers, educators, and healers. As I grow older the change agent, educator, poet, mystic, and healer in me finally agree to align and mutually amplify each other. Perhaps they tire of the subtle and not-so-subtle violence of modern day compartmentalization. Perhaps they act out of due respect for my lived experience as I am now in my forties. Or perhaps this move has little to do with me at all and more with what is being called forth by our current existential crises. I am at once big and powerful as well as tiny and fragile. Perhaps it is my soul in conversation with the cosmos that aligns all these dimensions of who I am because it is time for bold, heart-felt, collective experiments. Perhaps all of this is what will enable me to become a venerable ancestor someday.
I believe so – my body remembers this, too.
M. RAKO FABIONAR is a consultant, facilitator, and healer who creates learning environments for people to experience deeper connection, insight, and well-being. He is sought after for his powerful presence and capacity to support folks during times of transition. Rako has created transformative programs and equity focused initiatives for businesses, universities, retreat centers, and NGOs for twenty five years. He has trained social entrepreneurs, cultural workers, activists, spiritual teachers, and political leaders within the USA, Central America, UK, and Middle East. Rako has also worked closely with leadership from Google, Dignity Health, Adobe, Facebook, Skywalker Ranch, Impact Hub, IONS, and Climate Action Network International. Rako’s graduate studies focused on multi-generational social change. He also brings to his work the insights from his professional training in organizational design, and years of spiritual practice, including initiation into two indigenous lineage traditions.