WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Name a star for Brian

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/22 Oct) — War Wounded came out middle of last year, a product of my doctoral thesis which I immediately converted  into a book that not only details the conduct of narrative therapy for practitioners to learn from, but also to demonstrate how the narrative technique could be used to bridge the understanding by the general audience of the warrior’s select experience of combat trauma.

Before publication, War Wounded benefited from the comments of my fellow UP alumnus, Margaret Udarbe-Alvarez – the chairperson of the
Clinical Division of the Psychological Association of the Philippines and Editor of the Silliman Journal. (Marge came a little before me into the BS Psychology program in Diliman, which until my time accepted only 80 from among the thousands of UPCAT takers.)

UP’s permanent representative to the National Commission of Culture and the Arts, former UP Mindanao’s chancellor Ricky de Ungria, examined my use of the narrative technique and provided technical edits to boot. Philippine Army Scout Ranger Krishnamurti Mortela who was commandant of the Division Training Unit of the 10th Infantry Division then reviewed the analysis of the cases I used in the book.

For internal quality control, my use of the qualitative research method was vetted by Marlina Lacuesta, the former head of the ADDU Graduate School, a prominent and perhaps the only health social science researcher of note in Mindanao.

A book sums up one’s work thus far. But my work on mental health management for the frontlines did not end with War Wounded. In the year after, military hospitals and detachments remained familiar to my tread. I would probably get to tread those tracks some more as the political power vacuum of PNoy’s presidency encourages the wolves to close in from all sides. Our security forces would be forced to fight.

More young, stout of heart foot soldiers will die. More will watch them die and live tell about it. Since it came out, War Wounded had found an audience among mental health practitioners and soldiers who sometimes email me with more inquiries and a request to cite my work in their own academic papers. Recently, I have had such inquiry from a doctoral student, Lara Maguad of the Dela Salle University, and psychologist Harold Ho who is doing his course paper on combat-related stress.

In the last year, book reviews had also come out on in academic journal publications, commenting on the methodological aspects to the employment of psychotherapy and the narrative approach that I  pioneered for this purpose. These reviews had generally been complimentary.
Ever so often also, I get a comment from someone who is neither a soldier nor a clinician – but none so touching as from someone who
looks past the vast expanse of space and tracks the stars as they move in the heavens. The habit of seeing far gets him to see further into
the hearts of men and women.

For seeing into my heart, I named a star for Brian Waddington, a kindred soul I have yet to meet in this life. Here’s a hope he’ll keep a seat warming for me at Camp Lookout.

Here below is Brian’s surprise email:

“Gail Tan Ilagan has written a book that to me (a retired lay pastor who worked within both the United Church of Canada and United Church of Christ in the Philippines and is now an active Buddhist) is a clarion call to possibly the best way to allow peace to grow in the Philippines.

“My understanding of her working paradigm is that she is a ‘nurturer’ and comes to the problem of healing war wounded minds through her
inner mother rather than as the Doctor of Clinical Psychology which she also is. This is not to say that she does not use the education,
skills, and tools acquired through many years of school and practice (this is a well documented, researched and academically solid book).
It does mean she filters these skills through her inner nurturer.  I believe that this is the brilliance of her approach. “Compassion and wisdom have been called the ‘two wings of the eagle’. Anyone who has heard the Dalai Lama speaking on peace is undoubtedly aware of his high regard for these two mind sets. They are certainly two of the needed character traits of any nurturer or healer of the mind and as I read G.T. Ilagan’s book these two traits surfaced time and again .

“In the ‘Inaugural Desmond Tutu Peace lecture’ (broadcast via G+ on youtube.com) the Bishop when asked ‘how do we build a culture of peace’ answered simply and eloquently ‘It’s actually very straight forward. Let women take over.’ War Wounded shows the wisdom behind his statement.

As an evolutionist I believe that nature has prepared males and females for different roles. This is not to say inferior or superior roles but simply differing roles. Women are biologically the nurturers of life. Wars end when women get fed up with watching the children they have carried for nine months and raised for decades turned into cannon fodder. To borrow from another culture… ‘men are only good for two things, making babies and making war’.

“G. T. Ilagan has accepted the mantle of nurturer and by accepting it has become what millions of years of evolution have prepared her for.
She has, in War Wounded shown not only the way to healing the warrior but as well the way to peace in the Philippines.

“If others, and by others I mean the women of this country would also accept the mantle of nurturer and healer that evolution over millions of years has prepared them for then the men would have no choice but to accept the inevitable and lay down their weapons.” Wayward and Fanciful is Gail Ilagan’s column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. Ilagan teaches Social Justice, Family Sociology, Theories of Socialization and Psychology at the Ateneo de Davao University where she is also the associate editor of Tambara. You may send comments to gail@mindanews.com. “Send at the risk of a reply,”
she says).