2 events: Baguio and Manila
Baguio, Philippines: report by Mario Fungo
We started celebrating the SOPP in Baguio in 2013, and have held our ceremonies at three different venues here. This year, we used the same venue as last year, the Villa Romana Inn. The same groups from last year prepared and joined in this year’s event—the Baguio Interfaith Group and Baguio Artists Group—with the additional participation of a women’s group, the KALAHI organization.
We started planning this year’s event as early as February, conducting small meetings with both of the core groups, as well as mandala workshops. This year’s preparation was uniquely done with a multi-colored parachute tent designed by Maela Jose, reflecting the symbols of different religions and spiritual traditions. Works of art were hung around the space, together with our Soul of WoMen mandala, Earth flag and banner with the prayer May Peace Prevail on Earth. We also had a peace pole at the center, to place the flags around.
The program started with bell rings and the procession of participants from the upper part of the inn down to the venue. Four participants held items representing the four elements—water, earth (soil), air (a balloon), and fire (a candle). Maela, as host, welcomed the almost 50 participants, composed of representatives from women’s groups and the artist and interfaith communities in Baguio. This was followed by the reading of a document called Exhortation of Women, messages from women’s groups representing different fields (academia, religion, the arts and economics), followed by interfaith prayers (Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Native tradition, Islam, and Brahma Kumaris). Special prayers were offered for global peace and the environment, and for each of the four directions. A moment of silence was offered for the soul of Orlan T. De Guzman, who died shortly after the 2015 SOPP. Orlan has been my co-organizer for many years. We ended our ceremony with a native dance, accompanied by the sound of the gong.
Manila, Philippines: report by Genevieve Balance-Kupang
The 2016 SOPP held at the Father Louis Chauvet Foundation School in Pasig City, Metro Manila was a wonderfully uplifting and meaningful ceremony! Dr. Genevieve Balance-Kupang, Executive Director of the Peacemakers’ Circle, and Sister Marietta Gutierrez, Principal of the school, spearheaded the event. The ceremony took place with the warm and loving collaboration of about 250 stakeholders—parents, students, teachers, staff, and administrators of the school, peace advocates, and interfaith leaders from eight organizations and institutions: the Mandala Peace Arts Initiative (MPAI), the Peacemakers’ Circle Foundation, Ang Komunidad para sa Ika-uunlad ng Tao (under the Humanist Movement), World without Wars, the World Council for Curriculum and Instruction, Sanghabi, Saint Paul College Pasig, and the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Interfaith prayers, movement and stillness meditations, petitions of peace for each country in the world, songs, interpretative and community dances, native musical instrument playing, and sharing of food transpired. There was also a moment of silence, music and dance offerings for the repose of the souls of our great peacemaker Orland de Guzman Jr. and champion of the Older Persons, Fransiskus Kupang, who have gone ahead of us. These two beautiful souls were instrumental in leading our SOPP activities in the past, but last year both of them passed away within a two-month period. We ended the ceremony in high spirits, thanking all the organizers, supporters, and participants. Such a huge success, it was one of the best in Manila!
It was a joy to see so many different organizations working together for the cause of peace. A million thanks for the manifestation of the gift of presence and true sense of volunteerism. Our source of peace, who is our Creator, bless all of us a hundredfold! We would also like to extend our warm gratitude to the SOPP International Coordinators and staff for the inspiration you have always accorded us through our years of staging the SOPP here in the Philippines.