Imaginals are very idealistic and determined individuals who go against the grain of society with the same conviction that helps imaginal cells of a caterpillar transform into a butterfly.

Imaginal Cells

Inside the cocoon a mighty battle rages days before the caterpillar is reborn into a butterfly. Wrapped in darkness, the caterpillar has melted. Its new imaginal cells which contain the blueprint of its future butterfly self are outnumbered by the old caterpillar cells. It’s a tough existence for imaginal cells striving to become a butterfly but failing and dying every time at the hands of the old caterpillar cells who refuse to give way for change. Yet imaginal cells somehow manage to survive. After some time they influence the old caterpillar cells to become imaginal cells too. These imaginal cells then transform into imaginal tissues and imaginal organs – and finally become the butterfly!

“Imaginals” typically bike, walk, and grow their own food or buy them organically and biodynamically. They patronize green businesses, prefer homemade products, take only natural remedies when they get sick, and support the visionary education of Steiner/Waldorf schools.

The imaginal way of transformation is probably the longest and most difficult – but it is also the most sustainable for the planet. That’s why imaginals persevere.

Growing with Imaginals

Maya Flaminda J. Vandenbroeck and Katherine E. Estember first met other imaginals from the Philippines and Germany on Nicanor Perlas’ biodynamic farm at Zarraga, Iloilo. (Photo by Jhu Elno Rubio.)

Five years ago, two young college teachers with the desire to do something more with their lives, met and became fast friends with these imaginals. Every week Maya Flaminda J. Vandenbroeck and Katherine E. Estember, Tuburan’s founders, enjoyed gathering with the idealistic imaginals of Davao. They soon also befriended imaginals from Baguio, Metro Manila, Dumaguete, Cebu, Iloilo, and Germany.

Maya and Kate arrange their kapok harvest. (Photo by Arnold V. Vandenbroeck.)

These imaginals are of all ages and professions and meet quarterly in different cities to inspire each other with their local initiatives. Officially, imaginals call themselves the Movement of Imaginals for Sustainable Societies through Initiatives, Organizing, and Networking (MISSION). In order to be truly free and dynamic as a Movement, its members have refused register MISSION. Despite others’ lack of support and criticism, they steadfastly continue their imaginal work to eradicate poverty, organize communities, empower youths, build peace, train leaders, and so on.

Defining Education

Maya and Kate looked at their own lives and asked, “Are we helping create a societal impact?” They realized through MISSION that a profound societal transformation can start only from an inner transformation. And healthy education was key.
There was no time to lose though. What kind of education could nurture children to be the change that the world needs them to be?

Nicanor Perlas, one of the founding members of MISSION and co-founder of the Manila Waldorf School and the Gamot Cogon Waldorf School advised Maya and Kate, “Why don’t you start with defining your image of a human being?” He asked them, “Is a child like an empty glass that needs to be filled? Or is s/he already full and you just need to light a fire and draw out what’s already inside him/her?”

Discovering Steiner/Waldorf Education

There were others too like Bardot, Jim, Tet, Andy, Sarah, Grace, Tammy – all founding members of MISSION and also parents, teachers and founders of Steiner/Waldorf schools. They are amazing schools where students hardly sit own but learn science, math, language and more by singing, throwing bean bags, hopping, clapping, and many other games. They recite poetry and prose, tell stories and riddles. They go on field trips, make interesting projects for their classes, play the guitar, the violin, etc. and learn different languages. They work with various drawing and painting mediums. They can sew and knit. They can work with wood and stone and clay and earth.

The more Maya and Kate learned about Steiner/Waldorf education, the more they realized that when children’s minds, hearts and bodies are fully engaged, they naturally develop an inner responsibility and an inner motivation for their own learning.

Maya: “A person who is truly free like this cannot be bribed by external motivation like grades, praise, reprimands and punishment.”

Kate: “Just imagine educating out of love – not out of competition or out of fear. Such profound transformation it will bring to generations of Mindanaoans!”

Ever since the two imaginal college teachers met, more imaginal teachers, staff and parents joined to form a small imaginal school which they named Tuburan Institute, Inc. Their imaginal journey of personal and societal transformation is captured in the image of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly that has become Tuburan’s trademark logo.

Margaret Mead explains it best: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

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