5 events: Baguio, Cebu, Kidapawan, Manila, Tagbilaran

Philippines: report by Mario Fungo

SOPP 2013 was a great success in the Philippines, as we organized smaller gatherings in different parts of the country, rather than only in Manila. This year, gatherings took place in the cities of Baguio (northern Luzon), Cebu (Visayas), Kidapawan (Mindanao), Tagbilaran (Visayas), and in Manila (central Luzon). In Cebu City, a group of young professionals and in Kidapawan, a group of college students started simultaneously with Fuji Sanctuary at 10 am. The Bohol Goodwill Volunteers in Tagbilaran and the gatherings in Manila and Baguio started around 3 pm, while Kalinaw Interfaith Cebu in Cebu City started at 6 pm and end around 9 pm with an agape dinner.

I attended the SOPP in Baguio, which was held at the Baguio Buddhist Temple. It was attended by 16 people representing three major religions—Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity—and the Brahma Kumaris tradition. Before the ceremony, we discussed the background of the SOPP and the Global Peace Meditation and Prayer Day. The first part of the ceremony was the reading of Masami Saionji’s message, followed by prayers from the four spiritual paths that were represented. After that, we held special prayers for global peace and the environment, and a reflection on a poem by Mother Mangalam from Malaysia. This was followed by prayers for peace in each country and region, using national flag cards. We closed the ceremony with some sharing, reflection, and feedback. One of the groups invited everyone to share in a simple snack. Before we departed, we also discussed plans for next year’s SOPP in Baguio, with the feeling that this first gathering will pave the way for larger ones in the future.

In Manila, the SOPP was celebrated in Quezon City at the Bali Hai Garden Restaurant. It was attended by around 40 people who were members and friends of the organizing groups—the Mandala Peace Arts Initiative and the Peacemakers’ Circle—along with representatives from different faith groups, including Brahma Kumaris, Ananda Marga, Philippine Karma Kagyu Tibetan Buddhist Society, the Baha’i faith, Shinji Shumei Kai, the Peace Rainbow Missionary, Ginhawa Wellness Center, United Religions Initiative, Franciscan Missionaries – Justice, Peace & Intergrity of Creation, Dahon Kusina, Third Eye Wellness Center, and Muslim-Christian Youth for Peace & Unity. It was a simple and intimate gathering but with powerful meditations and prayers for peace and healing in the world. Our unique version of the ceremony was to intersperse the prayers from different faiths and traditions with the prayers for peace in each country. After each group of 21 countries, we all said: On behalf of humanity, we are sorry. We thank you. We love you. May all these nations’ missions be accomplished! We also had special prayers for the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, China, North Korea, and South Korea. Infinite thanks to all who participated and supported! See you again next year!

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