“AG-Yaman:” In Gratitude to the Founding Associate of GINHAWA Guru-Giya Leah Tolentino on Her 60th Birthday Part 2

by Genevieve Balance Kupang


“Teaching others is best done with subtlety, explaining in such a way 

that the mind opens because the heart has understood.”

 -Dadi Janki

Here is the continuation of “AG-Yaman” (Thank You): Celebrating a milestone of 60 years in the life of Ma’am Leah Tolentino. In case you missed the first part, here is the link: https://www. pressenza.com/2023/04/ag-yaman-in-gratitude-to-the-founding-associate-of-ginhawa-guru-giya-leah-tolentino-on-her-60th-birthday/.

Called to take delight in our diwata-ness and celebrate the gift of life. Ma’am Leah Tolentino (down-center), the celebrant, encourages us to appreciate our inner beauty as women, our unique kinesthetic embodiment of joy and love, innate in our humanity. 2nd row L to R: Jen Buenaflor-Osias, Genevieve Balance Kupang, Jan Bautista, Donna Vergara. Back L to R: Riz Dimapilis and Rosalie Guerrero. Photo credit: Mini Gavino.

Arrival. The birthday celebration included connecting with nature like these rock formations, trees, grasses, birds, and insects at HOGAR adjacent to the Ginhawa Eco-Renewal Center. Photo credit: Genevieve B. Kupang.

Creative Expressions from the Women Circle to the Guru-Giya Leah Tolentino (Continuation)

Jan Bautista’s poem below speaks of Leah’s benevolence in giving light and hope amidst the challenges of this life’s journey. Here is part of the creative expressions offered to the celebrant, Guru-Giya Leah:

Mga bulong mula sa kalawakan

Mga luhang tumatagos sa laman

Mga lihim na sumisigaw sa katahimikan

Mga kwentong tila walang katuturan


Na isang tunay na Diwata lamang

ang siyang makaaaninag

Isang Diwatang puno ng pagmamahal at malasakit,

Pag-aaruga at pag-unawa


Kami’y tunay na pinagpala

Na ika’y masumpungan

Hatid mo’y ilaw at pag-asa

Sa bawat pagdadaop, at sa tuwina


Nawa’y manahan ang galak at pag-ibig

Sa inyong buhay, puso, at diwa

Puno, siksik, liglig, hitik, at umaapaw

Walang hanggang pasasalamat sa inyo Ms Leah,

ang aming punong Diwata!

 -Jan Bautista

Whispers from space

Flesh-piercing tears

Secrets that scream in the silence

Stories that don’t seem to make sense


Which only a real Fairy

Is the one who can reflect

A Fairy full of love and care,

Caring and understanding


We are truly blessed

That you will be found

You bring light and hope

In every prayer, and always


May joy and love dwell

In your life, heart, and spirit

Full, dense, shaky, tight, and overflowing

Eternal gratitude to you Ms Leah,

Our chief Fairy!

Maligaya (happy), masagana (prosperous), at maginhawang kaarawan (pleasant birthday), Ms. Leah from the Diwatas. Ms. Leah Tolentino and Jan Bautista take a pose before the prayer-wishes and blowing of the birthday candle.

Morning meditation in nature and circle of gratitude 2. Photo credit: Mini Gavino.

An eye-catching semi-deformed pot on the rocky terrain of GERC symbolizes many aspects of the Eco-Renewal Center: a) rootedness in the cosmic, rich culture and living traditions; b) the fragile soul that needs to be listened to; c) high hopes for the person who seeks healing and in need of care; and d) a life-giving offering to God from the hands that know how to uplift others. Photo credit: Genevieve B. Kupang.

Mid-day magic and sharing of joy. There is such cheerfulness in this experience as Guru-giya Leah Tolentino knows how to help us cultivate the right kind of feelings in every moment. R: Rosalie Guerrero and Genevieve Balance Kupang manifesting the sparkling stars that we are. Photo credit: Genevieve B. Kupang and Mini Gavino.

Symbolic offerings to God for the beauty of life and being aligned with the mission. Ma’am Leah Tolentino is one of my gurus and healers who has reminded me/us (her students) to be in a delightful and beautiful state of being, that is soul-consciousness.

Gracious response from Ms. Leah

A few days after we had the blessing circle to celebrate Ma’am Leah’s birthday, she shared this with us through her Facebook page.

As a way of affirming blessing across many seasons of my life, I with an intimate circle of women-friends stepped into our “Diwata” selves to invite beauty, benevolence,  and adherence to our sacred roles. I am forever grateful to the Eternal God, Source of all this magic and grace. RE-ENCHANTING our life is part of caring for our souls.

 It was fun, deeply connecting, and yes….quite “magical.” Thank you for sharing this “diwata” celebration Genevieve Balance Kupang, Mini Gavino, Daluyong Isang, Rosalie Guerrero, Donna Vergara, Jennifer Buenaflor-Osias, Jan Bautista, Rosabelle Ramirez. I so appreciate your presence and commitment to co-creating magic in our shared space that we hope can trickle beyond.

 I am delighted to be able to do this celebration in GINHAWA, Tanay –  as we blessed the PaHINGAlay sa Ginhawa kubo-hall with our smiles, offering of flowers, fruits, and prayers. Cheers to more lovely circles of celebrating grace and magic.

 And this is my wish for women (and men too)… MAY YOU DISCOVER…and continue to discover the magic which is really the everyday GRACE THAT BREATHES THROUGH US AND AROUND US. Forever grateful to the Source of all this magic and grace!

-Ms. Leah Tolentino

Come back, come back. The memory of this picturesque, native bahay kubo on top of the Sierra Madre Mountain in Tanay, Rizal urges the weary soul to find rest and renew. Two weeks after I came from the Ginhawa Eco-Renewal Center, I found myself participating again in the same space in a ritual facilitated by Datu Arayan from Mindanao. I hope to write and share my reflections about it, dubbed Back to Nature 101.

About the writer:

Genevieve Balance Kupang (Genie) is an anthropologist, consultant, researcher, and advisor to individuals and organizations engaged in working for good governance, genuine leadership, justice, integrity of creation, peace, the indigenous peoples, preservation of cultures, and societal transformation processes. She is a peace educator, author, interreligious dialogue practitioner, and resource person with a career in the academe and NGO.



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