5 events: Baguio, Bohol and Tagbilaran, Cebu, Davao, Manila
Baguio, Philippines: report by Mario Fungo
The second SOPP ceremony in Baguio City, again held at and hosted by the Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary, saw a growing number of representatives from different religious traditions. This time, the Baguio Interfaith group and Baguio Artist group were well represented. Just over 20 people attended the 45-minute ceremony.
A large ‘Mandala for the Aversion of Natural Calamities’ served as a physical backdrop at our venue. After an introduction of the SOPP, we read the message from Mrs. Masami Saionji to overseas events. Then, we offered prayers for the four directions and a prayer for healing the earth and the environment. After this, participants offered prayers from their own faith traditions, with soft music playing in the background. The last part of our event was a flag ceremony to pray for peace in each country. We closed the ceremony by praying May Peace Prevail on Earth three times all together, then we enjoyed some snacks and friendly conversation.
We felt very happy to join with people around the world in enveloping our planet Earth with loving vibrations through prayers and meditations for world peace. Two comments among many: “Praying in the collective sense feels very rewarding. Energy is transmitted on a global level, and the feeling of oneness is enlightening.” “This activity has been most fulfilling and satisfying. It has succeeded in making me achieve inner peace and gratitude for the goodness of Mother Earth.”
Bohol and Tagbilaran, Philippines: report by Ludwig Quirog
Our SOPP 2014 celebration began at the Golden Link College Bohol Campus in Cortes, Bohol, where about 70 people (children included) prayed for peace on earth. It concluded with a gathering for evening prayers around the peace pole at Pres. Carlos P. Garcia Memorial Park in Tagbilaran City.
Cebu, Philippines: report by Art M. Banawa
A Symphony of Peace Prayers ceremony was held at the colorful Brahma Kumaris garden in Forest Hills, Banawa, Cebu City. About 15 people attended, including Brahma Kumaris members and musicians Amitabha EBJ and Eli Manony. Some of the participants were joining the ceremony for the first time.
After we introduced the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University and its service through a video, participants were invited to introduce themselves by identifying the color that expressed their feelings for the event. Then, we gave a brief introduction to the Symphony of Peace Prayers. I mentioned that it is a grassroots event that started at Fuji Sanctuary in Japan, and was conducted at the United Nations in 2013.
With instrumental background music, the hour-long program started with a guided meditation led by a Brahma Kumaris sister, with the themes of a peaceful soul, God the Ocean of Peace, and serving the world and nature, with special mention of typhoon survivors in the Philippines’ central region. Then, locally renowned yoga teacher EBJ played on indigenous instruments, including Tibetan bowls, to deepen the participants’ experience of peace through breathing, silence, and garden awareness. The participants stayed in silence and enjoyed the beauty of the garden and the meditative music.
I also read the Prayer for a World without Conflict that was first offered at the SOPP at Fuji Sanctuary some years ago. The program ended with a light, healthy dinner, smiling faces, and good night conversations.
Davao, Philippines: report by Dionisio Cervantes
Our SOPP event on the afternoon of May 18 was attended by 20 young people, both students and professionals. We held our gathering in a private chapel, since the theme of the event was recollection and reflection. We discussed our thoughts on the meaning of peace, our peace activities, and our contributions in our respective communities, and we wrote down our future commitments to peace. Overall, it was a solemn and meaningful occasion.
Manila, Philippines: report by Dr. Genevieve Balance-Kupang
The Symphony of Peace Prayers ceremony in Manila this year was held in the rock garden at St. Paul College in Pasig on May 18. It was convened by the Mandala Peace Arts Initiative (MPAI), with the support of Ang Komunidad Para Sa Ikauunlad Ng Tao (The Community for Human Development), The Peacemakers’ Circle, World Without Wars, Akkapka, and ProstoCall. The event was organized by two of the core members of MPAI, with help from the other core members. One of the MPAI members even designed and printed black mandala shirts, which were worn during the event.
Before the prayer gathering, we conducted a mandala-writing workshop and also exhibited some large mandalas around the area. We then began with opening remarks and an awareness of our interconnectedness with people across the globe. This was followed by special prayers for world peace, ocean breathing, movement prayers, and Catholic and Indigenous prayers for peace.
Our prayers for peace in each country and region were interspersed with a background musical performance by a group of St. Paul College alumni (Quintet). After praying for peace in each country, we all went around and greeted one another with a special gesture, to say that we are one in mind and spirit. We even participated in a surprise dance around the peace pole, led by my husband.
A solidarity message by the president of the Peacemakers’ Circle followed. Finally, a poem reading and reflection by another alumnus and sharing of food and pleasantries culminated this ceremony of oneness with humanity. Everyone agreed that they were grateful for the opportunity to heighten their consciousness towards peace, and at the same time, challenged to be steadfast in their commitment to justice, peace, and integrity of creation.