Founding Director, Chief Vision Facilitator of GINHAWA Inc.
Ms. Leah Tolentino “breathes” GINHAWA every day as she learns and teachers the essence of well-being that embraces the personal, societal and ecological.
Leah is a teacher’s teacher on spirituality and transformation, an artist-healer who uses the psycho-soma-spirit approach, a well-being consultant, guide-mentor for those seeking a conscious path in the work of healing and renewal.
Ms. Leah’s journey from chronic ailment and auto-immune disorder to long-term healing enabled her to discover inherent well-being capacities. After bouncing back to health, she committed to a path of facilitating healing to a wide variety of client groups, including those who were in dire need of healing, like abused children, women in crisis, and people living with HIV+/AIDS.
These experiences honed her competencies and compassion as she embarked on studies and immersive lessons in the fields of spirituality, holistic health, creative expressions, body-mind-spirit studies, social sciences, arts, and integral inner work.
Leah has a master’s degree in Creation Spirituality from Naropa University, based in Colorado, USA, and has completed the course work in the doctoral program of Applied Cosmic Anthropology at the Asian Social Institute (ASI).
Leah completed a graduate certificate program at the Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, USA, and has finished a Specialty Certificate in Sacred Dance (Healing, Renewal, Transformation) at the Center for Arts. Religion and Education, an affiliate center of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, USA. She has studies in Pastoral Psychology (CEFAM-Ateneo) Oriental Healing Arts and Indigenous Sacred ways with wisdom keepers from various Philippines cultural communities.
As the principal program developer of GINHAWA, she has conceptualized and implemented well-being retreats, creative culture-affirming classes, transformative sessions for the Filipinos both locally and overseas, for over two decades. And brought GINHAWA programs to Filipinos, where and when it mattered most: like de-stressing sessions for frontliners during the pandemic, post-trauma, and healing sessions for those severely affected by super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan, international name), a month after it struck the hardest in Eastern Visayas.
As a well-being consultant and resource person to various organizations, Leah has developed and conducted programs for government and corporate executives, NGOs, humanitarian organizations, universities and educational institutions, religious and faith-based organizations.
Currently a faculty in the post-graduate program of the Asian Social Institute, part-time faculty of the Institute of Formation for Religious Studies, resource-person/faculty at the Institute of Formation, Fondacio-Asia. She was featured in the book “101 Outstanding Filipino Achievers”, published in 2009.
Johnnel helps bring about balance in the world in his different roles as a healer, a Traditional Medicine student, a GINHAWA Inc. Board Officer, and a corporate leader for a tech firm. He leads in financial planning, institutional balance, and strategy for GINHAWA.
Johnnel holds a double degree in Business Administration and Accounting from the University of the Philippines, Diliman where he graduated with honors. He has over 10 years of experience in management consulting, big data, analytics, as well as strategy and operations - having served several US-based clients, which are part of Fortune 500.
He is a firm believer that 'The Filipino is World-class' so in his work he devotes a lot of his time to grooming and mentoring young talents from Manila, coaching them and leading them to drive successful business outcomes.
Outside of his regular day job, Johnnel is very much a student of life. He was first introduced to meditation at the age of eight through Hinga-Langin (breath-centered prayer). From childhood through adulthood, he was privileged to receive onsite lessons from a host of healer-mentor-teachers on varied fields, like intergenerational healing, psyche-soul link, financial literacy. The contrast he witnessed in human dynamics opened his eyes to the need and importance of balance and compassion. Johnnel participated in several GINHAWA retreats, workshops, mentoring from the GINHAWA founder, Ms, Leah Tolentino for his spiritual anchoring and grounding. Today, Johnnel is a certified Guided Meditation Teacher, and generously shares meditation space in various settings.
Coming from a lineage of traditional/natural healers, Johnnel started to embrace his path of healing through the practice of Reiki. Today he is a Reiki Third Degree Practitioner and a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) student at Ateneo de Manila.
Minifred Gavino is a cultural creative whose intention is to inspire Filipinos, especially the young, to discover their culture's gems and celebrate one’s indie-genius creativity.
She is a GINHAWA senior teacher-facilitator on creativity and culture integrating spirituality, an artist-healer who uses arts for healing, a mentor-adviser for the young in search of their roots and Filipino identity.
Gavino graduated from the University of the Philippines, Diliman. As part of Kontra-GaPi (a performing ensemble of UP Diliman College of Arts and Letters) for a decade, Mini traveled to Europe, North America, and Asia in promoting Philippine culture through performances and workshops inspired by indigenous music and dances.
In these cultural trips abroad, Mini witnessed the hunger of young Filipinos to discover their roots. In one of these trips, she heard the challenge posed by a Filipino Consulate General to “go beyond the dances and music of their performances… and to give hope to the young.”
Right after coming back from another cultural stint abroad, Mini took a retreat process on self-discovery and Lifework in GINHAWA. Her discoveries led her to be reminded of the intimate connection of creativity, Filipino identity, culture, spirituality in her life history and to deepen her appreciation of her Filipino heritage.
Since 2009, Mini created different wellbeing programs including the GINHAWA Baybayin Creativity Workshop-Classes, which provided a creative learning space for Filipinos to rediscover and affirm their Filipino ancestral heritage. After a decade, Mini developed the GINHAWA Teacher Training Course in Certificate in Teaching Baybayin basic workshop.
Mini develops and co-convenes spaces of engagement that bring together scholars on Filipino culture, elders from various cultural communities in the Philippines, and students of Filipino indigenous practices like the Buhay Babaylan lecture-ritual.
As a program developer Mini has conceptualized and continues to develop sessions in different settings with various participants and groups across the country as well as with global Filipinos.
Mini is a Sacred Space artist in the post-graduate course of Creation Spirituality of the Asian Social Institute (ASI), and a part-time faculty of the Institute of Formation and Religious Studies (IFRS). Part of Gavino’s continuing education includes M.A. subjects in Recreation Administration, studies in theater arts and photography at UP Diliman; several units (audit) in the Applied Cosmic Anthropology, a doctoral program of ASI. She also took courses on sound healing and The Art of Care: The Laughing Body workshop in the U.S.A.
Her childhood experience with her parents on spirituality and creativity as well as the words of the Filipino Consul continued to echo in Mini’s heart many years hence. She is in the path of formation work. She continues to be a guide and companion in weaving…creating pioneering ideas, holding spaces, developing programs to provide a venue for the participants to grow in self-discovery and self-acceptance that include their cultural identity; harness their creative gifts and eventually continue to deepen their processes of making “meaningful meanings” in their life.
With these, Gavino hopes and trusts that Filipinos especially the young journey through life for our collective wellbeing.
Hazel H. Navarro-Tan is a clinical psychologist and a Board Member of GINHAWA since 2000.
Hazel’s deep empathy and inner strength have truly served GINHAWA’S advocacies in the transformation and rehabilitation of those needing healing, especially children and women in crisis.
Early on in her career, Hazel championed the protection and promotion of the well-being of women. She was a bearer of hope for commercial sex workers in Negros Occidental in the Philippines as a volunteer for the prevention and reduction of HIV-AIDS transmission.
She helped co-develop a GINHAWA program for women in crisis and survivors of abuse at the Euphrasian Community of the Religious of the Good Shepherd in Quezon City. She carried on with her psychological services even after the program lapsed. Hazel, would also continue this advocacy in the Bukid Kabataan, a center run by the Good Shepherd sisters, that houses hundreds of young survivors, braving the long travel to Cavite. For a good number of years, she chose to serve in a professional capacity for the GABAY BATA Project of the Zonta Club of Muntinlupa and Environs, Third World Movement Against the Exploitation of Women (TW-MAE-W.)
Undaunted by the stigma of associating with those who are HIV/AIDS positive, she was also involved in the then outreach of GINHAWA for those living with HIV+/AIDS. Her master thesis in clinical psychology was a study on improving the life orientation of those living with HIV/AIDS, with an experiential component co-implemented with GINHAWA associates.
Hazel also ventured into education, training, and transformation serving academic institutions as College Instructor/Professor and Guidance Counselor, private organizations as Human Resource Management and Training consultancies for both government and private institutions, government work as Program Officer at the Philippine Sports Commission, and non-government organizations with stints at Transparency international, Philippines, TW-MAE-W.
She was the Pioneering Organizer and part of the Technical Working Group of Sanlakbay, a Community Rehabilitation Program for Drug Surrenderers under the Restorative Justice Ministry of the Archdiocese of Manila, Philippines. Hazel is also a Volunteer Psychologist at the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas Psychotrauma Clinic.
Lilac is a founding member of GINHAWA. She is an academic, sustainable living advocate, and social development practitioner.
Lilac is a staunch advocate-teacher specifically in the areas of holistic living, social inclusion, gender equality, work-life balance, diversity, multiculturalism, through her occupational commitments, community involvements, relationships, and lifestyle of choice.
Ginhawa’s Pagbubuo (becoming whole) process was instrumental for Lilac to name and discover her life’s purpose. From thereon, Lilac has consciously chosen to live out her fundamental life calling. She affirms that this has unlocked boundless opportunities for her to grow, serve and be happy.
Lilac served through various professional capacities in several Philippine organizations before she ventured into postgraduate studies in Australia. Gifted with intellectual vigor, focused on her life path, Lilac finished her Ph.D. at The University of Melbourne where she explored the changing identities of skilled Filipina migrants in Melbourne.
Thinking globally and acting locally, Lilac dedicated years of service in community and international development work. Currently, she is Senior Manager of the Communities for Children Hume Program in Uniting Vic Tas, based in Victoria Australia. There she assumes key leadership role in projects that ensure that children and their families experiencing complex life circumstances can reach their full potential.
As an academic, Lilac is a member of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology Social and Global Studies Centre, had teaching stints at the University of Victoria, The University of Melbourne and RMIT University. She has published academic papers and commissioned researches.
Today in GINHAWA, Lilac sustains the vision through her wisdom from lived experience, indigenous knowledge, social sciences, and spiritual truths. A torch bearer, Lilac emulates liwanag (light) as she witnesses others in their search for meaning and becoming a conduit of change.
Novy has more than 20 years of combined experience in the areas of accounting, marketing, business development, risk management and compliance, transaction services, and valuation, internal and external audits, fraud and investigations, working both locally and internationally in several countries, particularly the United States of America, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and India.
She was also actively involved in corporate social responsibility activities during her stint with one of the leading accounting firms in the Philippines. She co-spearheaded the project in the construction of classrooms in Bantayan, Cebu, in partnership with a local NGO, to support major restoration work in Bantayan which was severely damaged by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). Novy graduated with a degree in BS Accountancy from Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of the Philippines (UP), Diliman.
Despite having a left-brain dominant mind, which is keen on analysis and structure, Novy has an insatiable appetite for the spiritual and the psychological. Since 2011, she regularly attended human development sessions, various retreats such as the 10-day Vipassana silent retreat as well as several retreats and workshops of GINHAWA. She is a firm believer of the body, mind spirit connection and advocates health and wellness in all aspects of the human person. Novy is into meditation, yoga, pilates, and also dabbles in astrology. She also took courses in Pranic Healing and Theta Healing.