The Floral Bouquet Self-Portraits

Today we share with you more detail on the expressive arts session on Sunday which was the making of The Floral Bouquet Self-Portraits.
Click here to learn more about this workshop from previous post

Below is the step by step process in pictures…

Below are the individual portraits of our teenage participants:

Very creative use of the fruit stamps and stencils to make these awesome portraits, young ladies! Thank you for sharing your insights and reflections too. We wish you all the best in your learning and development. Till the next time!


The ME TREE Self Portraits

Today we share with you more detail on the expressive arts session on Saturday which was the making of the Me Tree Self-Portraits.
Click here to learn more about this workshop from previous post

Here you will find the individual creations of our teenage workshop participants from the St Alfonso Maria Fusco Home, Compostela.

The portraits with their corresponding hand carved camote stamps

Awesome camote carving and leaf pattern prints, young men! Thank you for sharing your insights and reflections too. We wish you all the best in your learning and development. Care for the earth, care for each other, care for the future and care to laugh, lots!


On Saturday, my siblings and I co-taught  part 3 of our Learning from Nature’s Resilience workshop series. This time we took inspiration from the surviving trees and the regrowth of their leaves and worked with a group of teenage scholars from the St Alfonso Maria Fusco Home, Compostela.

My brother Joel Lee, Permaculture and Aprotech Solutions educator, facilitated the warmup laughter yoga and encouraged its regular practice as a way to health and relaxation. 

My sister Eddy Lee, a conservation educator and ecotherapist, led the nature walk, inviting our teen participants to pay attention to the various species of the trees that survived Super-Typhoon Odette and their leaf patterns. They were able to identify most of our fruit trees and surprisingly some of the native trees. When asked why they had some familiarity with the native trees, most of them said that they still had these trees in their mountain villages.

The ME Tree Self-Portrait
(the camote stamps)

We were recently gifted with some camote (sweet potato) and I thought of using this as a medium for the day’s expressive arts session which is the making of The Me Tree Self Portrait.  

I used two medium camote and cut them into thick slices and distributed them among the participants.  They were each provided a dull knife as a simple carving tool to make their leaf stamps.

Paulina Constancia demonstrates how to make the camote stamp and design The ME TREE Self-Portrait

P.Constancia sample ME TREE

The instruction for the activity was :
If you were a tree, what kind would you be, what leaves would you bear and as you createyour portrait focus on your pesonal resilient trait and be ready to share this with the group.

How to Make Your Stamped ME TREE Self Portrait using a camote slice:

  1. Choose leaf design (shape, veins,etc)
  2. Cut the camote slice to shape/margin of your leaf of choice
  3. Using the dull knife provided start carving out the pattern, bearing in mind that the part you remove from the camote is what won’t print or register on your paper.
  4. Practice stamping on scrap paper before doing your prints and composition on the artboard.
  5. Use watercolor or stamp pad for the color and allow to dry before adding design details with ballpen and pencil crayons
  6. Prepare to share your work and personal resilient trait with the group.
Our camote carvers…
Stampin’ away…
Museum visit after the workshop (inside the MONA)
Our teenage participants in front of the museum
Teenage scholars from the St Alfonso Maria Fusco Home at the
Justice Lee Nature Sanctuary. With them are Paulina Constancia, Sr. Vicenta “Inday” Yap, Sr. Salve Narvaja, Eddy Lee and the goldens- Gabby and Sunny

Thank you Sr. Inday, Sr Salve and our teenage workshop participants for the learning adventure that we shared at the sanctuary. Till the next time!

The Floral Assemblage Self Portraits

We are proud to share with you the creations of our recent Learning from Nature’s Resilience 2 workshop. Taking inspiration from the resilience of flowering plants and trees, the teenage participants were invited to create a floral assemblage self-portrait. They were also asked to focus on personal traits that make them resilient. Some of the traits mentioned were STRONG, UNIQUE, CONFIDENT, PRO-ACTIVE, …
(Click on this link to see workshop process and instructions.)

Here is a gallery of the group’s works. Left image is the actual floral assemblage, right image is the water-colour recreation of the assemblage portrait.

We thank the teenage participants for joining us for a fun learning experience at the Nature Sanctuary.


Yesterday my sister and I co-taught  part 2 of our Learning from Nature’s Resilience workshop series. This time we took inspiration from flowers, and worked with a younger group – teenage survivors of difficult situtations.

My sister Eddy Lee, a conservation educator and ecotherapist, led the nature walk and discussion on nature’s resilience while I facilitated the art session on the making of floral assemblage self portraits.

The group with Eddy Lee, conservation educator and ecotherapist.

I went on an early morning walk at the Sanctuary to gather the variety of flowers to be used for the art session. I was expecting a group of 17, so it was quite a challenge since this is post-typhoon times and there’s not many kinds of flowering plants left. Despite that I am proud to say that i managed to gather more than enough variety for the participants.

Since this was an exercise on resilience, the participants were not allowed to choose from the floral selection and had to make the most out of the flower assigned to them. However,  they were free to choose the other natural add-ons (stones, twigs, leaves, cowrie shells,etc) to complete their assemblage piece.

Creating the Assemblage Portrait

It was fun watching the girls so focused on creating the assemblage then recreating it on another sheet of paper using watercolor as a medium. Later when each of them had the chance to share their process and their reflections, some said they enjoyed making the assemblage better than painting.  Others said the two versions of the portrait were equally fun to create and complete.

Recreating the portraits using water-color

My thoughts on this is that the medium of flowers and other natural elements was a more relaxing medium for the teens, once they drew and painted they started becoming critical of their work (and themselves). Suddenly, i could hear some saying, ‘I’m not good at drawing!’
My reflection on this is that the closer we work with nature and what’s natural, the more we are free and spontaneous, the more we can be our true selves, and without a doubt creativity is at the core of our human nature.

The artists with their assemblage art at the Roundhouse of the Nature Sanctuary
Museum visit after the workshop to see Paulina’s FLORAL CHORUS collection and other works

The teenage participants with the workshop facilitators – Far left expressive arts educator Paulina Constancia and conservation educator and ecotherapist Eddy Lee. Photo also shows a golden retriever named GABBY, the Nature Sanctuary ambassador.

The Resilient Leaf Self-Portrait Art Workshop

Today I thought I’d show more photos of the art making component of our “Learning from Nature’s Resilience” training the trainors workshop which was participated by head teachers and principals of Cluster 7- Carcar City DepEd.

It was a fun and inspiring day learning about resilience through nature’s example.   From a previous post, I shared the enormous damage caused by Odette to the Justice Lee Nature Sanctuary here in Carcar. Below is a photo of our beloved Acacia tree right after Odette.

It appears that the super-typhoon basically “claimed its life”, but picture below shows what our beloved acacia tree looks like now…fresh new branches and leaves have emerged.

It is a living example of resilience. It may have been hurt and broken by Odette, but it has evidently bounced back and is now thriving!

About the WORKSHOP

Inspired by the re-emergence of leaves amongst the trees that were originally thought to have been completely damaged by the super-typhoon, we initiated a resilience art workshop using leaves as base material.

We had a tray of various pre-cut leaves and distributed them among the participating head teachers and principals. They were not allowed to choose because this is a workshop on resilience. You have to find a way to make good use of your “givens”. I was amazed by what the teachers came up with.

The instruction was: Using the leaf provided make a leaf self-portrait that shows this..”I am resilient because I am _________” (participants choose their key personal resilient trait)

This teacher painted a background of rainbow colours before making the leaf imprint.

This teacher made a few two-colour imprint of her leaf and then drew her portrait using a pen once the water-colour imprint had completely dried

This teacher made several leaf imprints using three different colours and turned it into hair for her self-portrait.
Tri-colored leaf hair for her self-portrait.
Head teachers and principals of Cluster 7- Carcar City DepEd busy creating their Leaf Self-Portraits
Here is an image summary of the works of all the participants from Cluster 7 of Carcar City DepEd
Our tall acacia tree may have fallen but it is definitely not dead. Now lowered closer to the pond, its bent trunk is more accessible and serves as an awesome rest and recreation spot for our farm felines. Once again –All’s well (actually “better” according to our cats’ meows.)😹


Yesterday I had the great honour and joy of co-facilating a training the trainors workshop with my siblings — Learning from Nature’s Resilience. Participants of the workshop were head teachers and principals of Cluster 7- Carcar City DepEd. Workshop program included an introduction to permaculture, a silent nature walk, a discussion on nature’s resilience based on their observations during the nature walk, making Leaf Portraits, and a tour of the Museum of Naïve Art. Why leaf portraits? During Super typhoon Odette (aka Typhoon Rai), all the plants and trees lost their leaves from her fury. The first sign of visible recovery is the emergence of new leaves. The participants made their portraits using leaf imprints and stated their resilient trait. It was a hectic morning filled with nature, art, stories, reflections and laughter.

As shared by one of the participants Sir Guilbert “Miski unsa ka kusog sa unós, naay pagluráng!”
(Translation: “No storm lasts forever”… or you can say.. “no matter how heavy the storm, the moment of calm will eventually come”)
A teacher’s training with the DepEd Carcar City Division- Cluster 7 on learning from nature’s resilience
Participating Schools: Kalam Elem School, Kalangyawon Elem and High School, Ocaña Elem School,
Can-asuhan Elem and High School
Intro to Permaculture with Eddy Lee
Silent Nature Walk
Leaf Self-Portrait Art Demo by Paulina Constancia
Leaf Self-Portrait Art Session
I am resilient because I am…..
The group’s leaf self-portraits, I guess you can call this a “group shot”🤣
Museum Tour
Reading about Paulina Constancia’s art, and taking wings at the museum
Happy spirits and winged hearts
Happy, enthusiastic teacher-learners
The whole group with the facilitators: Joel, Eddy and Paulina
Sanctuary Ambassador GABBY

We join Gabby in thanking you, DepEd Carcar City Division- Cluster 7, head teachers and principals for joining us for a fun and inspiring learning experience at the Sanctuary. Till the next time!

(Gabby wants to remind you that one of the secrets of resilience is being proactive… remember the ‘active voice’ – The dog ate the sandwich… not The dog was eaten by the sandwich)

Listen. Watch. Learn. There is so much wisdom and wonder in Nature that strengthens our resilience.

Have a purpose – where do you want to be when this is over?

Be proactive – don’t dwell and overthink things; just make stuff happen

Remain hopeful – look forward to and work towards your goal lines

Learn from the past – act on what has served you well in previous adversity

Focus on wellness – (mental AND physical); it is essential for survival

Stay connected – ‘Together we are strong’ – find ways to stay connected through challenging times (adversity)

Super Typhoon Odette hits Cebu

I have experienced many typhoons in my life but Odette of Dec 2021 was the first of its mega kind to hit Cebu. I was overseas when it hit my beloved Cebu (FYI -Carcar City, Cebu -where the MoNA is located was badly hit). Below is my brother’s personal experience with the fury of Odette (aka Typhoon Rai)

My First Supertyphoon Experience

I have experienced many strong typhoons in the past. and i was kinda relaxed as the typhoon got closer. in fact i even went out for a short bike ride at 5am of 16 Dec2021, knowing well from the multiple news feeds that Typhoon Odette was closing in. The storm tracker maps showed a path that passed right through the center of Cebu island. The day before as I was working with our staff Todio & Delfin, i even joked that the typhoon may pass right in front of the door of Todio’s house.

There was some light rain when i got back to the Nature Sanctuary around 730am, and my instinct led me to ask Delfin, if he would like to go home and be with his family when the typhoon would arrive later that evening. He was actually preparing to work his normal day, when i got to ask him. He realized it was the best thing to do, especially as it would be easier to return to his mountain village in Alcoy before it starts raining. He also said, that he could do some preparation for the typhoon by trimming some trees. When Todio arrived at 8am, I asked him the same thing, and he also decided to head back home and prepare for the typhoon.

And so i was left alone at the Sanctuary the whole day of 16 December 2021.
I started my preparations, by getting my emergency gear together: flashlights, chargers & cables, multi-tools, harness, ropes, life jacket, life buoy, food provisions, water, raincoat, spare clothes, and put them together in a waterproof bag.

By 2pm electricity was shut down. after my personal emergency items were ready, i went around to check, close windows, etc. by 6pm i was having my dinner.
I stayed in my upstairs room after dinner, and thought that i could see the typhoon pass while starying in my room, which had a roof made of semi-light materials: bamboo and onduline (asphalt-bitumen roofing)
By 8pm the winds started to whine. And i decided that it seemed the best thing to do was to move downstairs where the concrete ceiling would provide the best protection.
By 9pm the winds were getting stronger, and it sounded like a dozen jet liners hovered overhead while revving their engines to the full. Based on my past experience, i allowed the wind to pass through, instead of blocking it. so i kept the inside doors open so the wind could flow freely. I struggled to keep those doors open as they were banging about, until i fastened them in place with some tie-downs. But where there were no window panes, the typhoon wind blew fiercest at the GF residence. i soon had to take away the many decorative items that lined the window: printed metal boxes, art pieces, etc. later, since i could not do anything else, i went to my Mom’s room and just lay in bed. i was not really worried about my personal safety as i knew i was in a very safe place. but banging, cracking, smashing sounds just made me wonder exactly what was happening around. i noticed that water was slowly appearing on the floor of the room. but that did not seem a major issue.
By around 1030pm it was all quiet, and i decided to venture out to see what happened. and i was greatly surprised that the main door was now blocked by the branches of the huge acacia tree that had fallen down, with many branches blocking the main entrance. anyway i was able to get through the debris and proceeded to check the other areas. the biggest damage i saw was a mango tree that got uprooted and had fallen on the roof of the MoB.(newly transferred Museum of Bicycling) all that i could do was to shut off the main circuit breaker. The vehicles that were parked there seemed safe. with that i hurried back inside the Pavilion ground floor knowing that the tail end of the typhoon was arriving very soon. part of the pavilion roof had fallen and the gutter was sending water right in front of the main door. i had to quickly make a path for the rainwater to the pond, so that the water would not flow inside the residence.

By 11pm the tail end of the typhoon arrived. and with much greater fury than the head of typhoon Odette. i removed the lighter glass jars that lined the window ledge, thinking that the heavier ones could not be blown away. too bad, that i did not take them down as they were soon smashed onto the floor by Odette’s fury. I went back to my Mom’s room, only to find that the water on the floor was at least 1.5 inch, despite the fact that it really did not rain that much.

so i just lay in bed and waited for the typhoon to abate. by around 3am the strong winds were gone, but intermittent gusts of strong winds continued to blow. i just stayed in the room until around 5am, 17 December 2021, the day after, when i prepared to head out tho check the damage brought by the typhoon. My main goal was to shut down the main power entrance breaker, so that there was no risl that power could be resotred without having been able to check out our electrical systems.

I found it almost impossible to get to the main entrance breaker located near gate one, as the pathways were all blocked by fallen trees. i had to dodge, climb over, crawl under several tree branches, sometimes i had to walk through water filled swales. it was quite disorienting to move through that terrain, as i could barely recognize my usual markers. after around half an hour i was able to reach the breaker and turn it off. then i went out of the gate just to see what had happened outside. it was just daybreak. and i could see fallen trees lying on our access road, but also 2 or the 3 electrical posts that brought the power to our place. well my major effort to shut off the main entrance breaker turned out to be futile, as we would not be having power for quite sometime.

so i made my way back, but throught the back side of the our cimcumferential road. with much effort i reached the store rooms only to find out another tree had fallen and broken another part of the roof. and then to my great sadness, i saw all our 3 vehicles parked at the basketball court, pressed down by one mango tree that broke at the base of its trunk. i thought, i could have parked the vehicles elsewhere, but where? i would not know where i could be sure they were safe from the typhoon.

when i reached the pavilion, i finally saw that the typhoon had totally demolished the roof, and thrown about the furniture, turned down shelves and so on. it was a total disaster.

in retrospect, i realize that the typhoon was not properly identified as the SUPERTYPHOON that it really was. since i have experienced category 5 in the past, i would rate Odette as a Category 8. should that have been clear in our minds, our preparation would have been so different, and levelled up. we had the time, but we, including myself could not and did not prepare sufficiently for the kind of storm that was coming.

The extent of the damage it has caused everywhere, is proof of this underpreparedness.

joel lee
953pm, 26 December 2021
Justice German Lee Jr. Nature Sanctuary
Bacsije, Barangay Ocaña, Carcar City

The PAVILION at the Justice German Lee Jr Nature Sanctuary, before and after Supertyphoon Odette
(L) Our beloved Acacia tree by the pond, and mango tree crushing our three vehicles at the Sanctuary

So many in Cebu were severely affected/impacted by Odette. Some organizations reached out to help those badly affected in our barangay in Ocaña and for their kindness and generosity our barangay folks are deeply grateful.

Damage to the Sanctuary:

1)Odette claimed so much plant life at the Sanctuary. What took many decades of planting and nurturing, Odette destroyed in a few hours. Priority now is clearing the fallen trees and rescuing the plant life that can still be rescued.

2)MONA (Museum of Naïve Art): Thankfully, the museum was spared, and other than some damaged prints and signages, the museum is still standing and in good shape.

3)MOB (Museum of Bicycling): Just recently relocated/transfered to the Sanctuary from ELICON (Ecological Living Conservation House), most of the items were tossed around by Odette and there was some considerable damage. A lot of work has to be done to bring it back. Yes, lots of hard work and patience. All the best with the restoration and revitalizing efforts to the MOB curator, Eddy Lee.