“WE HAVE sinned against the Earth, hence we spread mud on our body and bathe in the river to atone for our mistakes.” These are the guiding words of Louie Dormido when he conceived the rationale for the Mudpack Festival.

That was 19 years ago, and the words of Louie still sink deep, and I felt remorse. For the past years that we attended the Mudpack Festival the message has not sunk to my consciousness. Too busy with living like most people, these environmental challenges are put at the back of one’s mind.

Revisiting Mambukal Resort over the weekend to judge two of Mudpack’s events, I felt remorse at not seeing the festival as an advocacy for Earth through the arts.

As festivals go in the Philippines, we are entertained especially at the dusk as the beers start to flow. But Mudpack is more than entertainment; it has a soul— a spirit that seeks the participants and audience alike and move them to seek redress for man’s never-ending misuse of Mother Nature’s gifts. The movers of the spirit of Mudpack are the artists and their works in the field of visual arts and performing arts.

Fusing the visual and performing arts of the Mudpack Festival is the installation and performance event. Five schools joined the contest and came up with very good performances. The best of which is STI West Negros University, which did not win because of technicalities, but the presentation was above excellent. Theirs was a soul-searching performance. The lyrics of the songs sink into your consciousness, searching for answers. The acting was so good. The performance can bring you to tears and lingers in your mind after.

The La Consolacion College’s ARFIEN group gave a very intriguing performance. Mysterious at first but they were able to get their message through. For a non-theater group it was an achievement. Getting the message across was the paramount concerns of the participating schools and they were successful.

Also featured in the two-day Mudpack Festival were poster-making for kids, mixed media art competition, drumbeating, tribal dance competition, and more. All of them advocating respect for our planet. This year’s theme “One Earth, One Life,” is a fitting reminder that we live because Mother Earth provides.

Over the years, Mudpack Festival has earned avid spectators and participants that annually troop up to Mambukal to witness the events. Their numbers do not match the festivals of cities and municipalities— which is good because we cannot have them trample and destroy the flora of Mambukal.

Nevertheless it is sad that a few can witness and imbibe the advocacy of Mudpack. There has to be a mechanism to bring the festival to a greater number of people to fulfill its advocacy. Media coverage is only one way of spreading the message, but it has its limitations. Mudpack has to go beyond Mambukal, it should belong to the world.