3 events: Cebu City, Manila (Arellano University), Manila (Asian Social Institute)
Cebu City, Philippines: report by Ratan Atman
The SOPP program in Cebu City was held on Saturday, May 19 at the Brahma Kumaris Meditation Center in Forest Hills, Banawa. About 30 people were present for our program of silence, meditation, prayers and chanting. There was also a workshop on the topics: What contribution do I give to the world? and What are the components of peace? There were five groups, and each group presented their output in the plenary session. After the sharing, a Brahma Kumaris sister led participants in learning the action song “Pause Muna Peace Muna” (Pause First, Peace First). Together, we recited prayers for world peace and prayers for harmony between humanity and nature. The Brahma Kumaris group gave a talk on the topic, “When We Change, the World Changes.” The Hare Krishna Group presented their beautiful chanting, and a professor from the University of the Philippines, Cebu branch, recited a prayer for planet Earth. Dinner was served after the session at the Brahma Kumaris garden.
Manila, Philippines(Arellano University): report by Mario Fungo
The Mandala Peace Arts Initiative and Peacemakers Circle Foundation organized an event at Arellano University. Members of several religious groups took part in the event. As participants arrived, they viewed two videos about the SOPP in Japan and in the Philippines, presented by Mr. Gabriel David A. Medina. Members of the Hare Krishna group performed a beautiful song accompanied by musical instruments, which participants found very entertaining.
When all the guests had arrived, I led a prayer ceremony for peace in each country and region. Participants joined in the prayers for peace and formed a mandala of flag cards in the center of the room. Next, members of the MPAI offered a Prayer for a World Without Conflict and a Prayer for Harmony Between Humanity and Nature, and also read the Fuji Declaration.
Ms. Andreline D. Ansula, the Director of the Office of Community Development at Arellano University, delivered a warm, inspirational message, and Ms. Madelyn Gonzaga Caadan read the message from Masami Saionji to all SOPP 2018 organizers and participants.
After this, I invited the religious leaders to offer their respective prayers for peace. Prayers were offered from the Roman Catholic, Eastern Catholic, Hindu, Muslim, Hare Krishna, Baha’i, and Brahma Kumaris traditions. In a solemn moment, all the religious leaders prayed together for the peace of the world.
Ms. Michelle Garrido, Program Coordinator of the Office of Community Development and member of MPAI, prayed to the four directions of the Earth. Then, Gabriel and Ms. Rosario Lagadia offered a prayer of gratitude to the elements of Mother Earth.
Dr. Noemi Medina from the Baha’i Faith addressed the theme of the divine feminine, and then everyone joined in performing a wordless prayer affirming the divine essence of humanity. Mr. Oscar Ejercito led a tai chi relaxation and healing exercise, and more beautiful music was shared by the Hare Krishna group. Following this, two members of the Baha’i group shared an inspirational message and a healing prayer.
To close the event, both Gabriel and Ms. Shakuntala Vaswani of the Peacemakers’ Circle shared messages of gratitude, and then participants enjoyed a delicious meal together. Before parting ways, everyone greeted each other in a spirit of peace and love.
Manila, Philippines (Asian Social Institute): report by Genevieve Balance-Kupang
52 participants from various groups and organizations gathered at the Asian Social Institute in Manila. The represented groups included the Asian Social Institute Foreign Students Organization, the Silsilah Dialogue Movement, and the World Council for Curriculum and Instruction. Representatives from the Department of Education and the Department of Labor and Employment were also in attendance.
It was music to the ears to hear spoken prayers in various languages and to be deeply touched by the sincerity of prayer leaders from Buddhism, Christianity (Catholic and Methodist), Islam, and indigenous traditions. Prayers were offered in Bahasa Indonesia, Bengali, Burmese, Chin, English, Filipino, Khmer, Sino-Tibetan, Thai, and Vietnamese. Songs from different countries were performed while participants shared food and drinks during lunch.
Coming together to pray for our inner peace and for harmony in our family and our world community, and joining with the rest of our SOPP friends in many corners of the globe is our way of transcending the looming darkness of hatred, division, and conflict in our society. We continue to manifest our Divine essence to one another, and acknowledge that we are but the instruments of our loving Creator in planting the seeds of peace.