Tag Archives: breakthrough

The wonder of YOU

I have posted two articles with this title– all in reference to my dear wife.

This time, I am using the same title with reference to someone else. Not another woman, though. But a group of young ministers who do not cease to amaze, if not amuse, me. The series of reflections on the EDSA Revolution Anniversary last month and the resurgence of heated discussion on facebook group related to the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches (CPBC) and Convention Baptist Ministers Association (CBMA) have influenced my decision to feature this group on my blog.

In the Philippine history of struggles for change, after the euphoria of EDSA Revolution, there was resurgence of some unrest. Both political and military enmity resumed once more in the Cory government. A group of young military officers emerged looking for a coherent ideology. Using anti-American rhetoric, they claimed to lead an underground movement to overthrow then President Corazon Aquino and the system she represented. They were known as the Young Officers Union (YOU).

BGen. Danilo Lim, one of the founders of Young Officers Union

 Their shadowy existence raised speculations. Some dismissed them as public relations creation of the better-known Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM). At that time RAM’s image appeared to be tarnished because of links to discredited politicians. Others claimed the group broke with the famed Gregorio Honasan and other movement leaders for their indecisiveness and close alliance with opposition politicians. Some even believed YOU has adopted the organizational structure of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines as manifested in their activities and even press statements alluding to “American imperialism” and the Aquino “puppet regime“.

In 1989, they captured national spotlight when staging a nine-day siege of the Makati business district. Since then they were taken seriously to the extent of offering a bounty for the arrest of seven renegade officers identified as YOU leaders.

In my article on movement for change in the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches (CPBC), I made mentioned about the progressive pastors and seminarians in 1980’s who participated in the struggle against dictatorship, some made alliances with lay leaders that wanted changes in the CPBC. Also a group of seminarians in Panay in 2000 who staged a protest for some reform in their institution. Of course,  there may be others before or after them. Then emerged the movement of young ministers in Negros who dared to challenge the status quo perpetuated by influential ruling group. In 2006, they showed their consolidated strength by daring to challenge the veteran leadership in Negros and foretasted success when they captured the leadership in Kasapulanan.

They called themselves Young Overseers Union (YOU) with immortalized slogan “Go for Change.” In varying degrees, they have sustained their movement and made their presence felt, most often, causing discomforts to those who want to perpetuate the status quo. Their battle cry for change continue to disturb the leadership.

Covenant Signing?

Some members of YOU dsiplay their manifesto
Photo Credit: YOU Forum

While some veterans dismissed them as neophytes, other conservative leaders considered them trouble makers. However, they serve as inspiration to those who also want change. I came to know them through their former leader who was once a close friend of mine.

If my memory serves me right, they started as a Community Learning Group that meets regularly for fellowship, study, prayer and support system. But their political experience in the 2006 Kasapulanan election and subsequent CPBC election have strengthened their resolve and honed their skills in organizing. Even the betrayal and abandonment of their former leader and allies, and attempts to isolate them including threats and harassment did not deter their commitment to change. They remain undaunted,strong and productive At times, they appeared to be irreverent but the issues they raised are relevant.

Young Overseers Union

Plans over cups of coffee
Photo Credit: YOU Forum

One of my unforgettable encounters with them was during the CBMA – Negros Assembly at the Remitio Memorial Chapel, Convention Baptist Bible College, Bacolod City. Inspired by the overwhelming support to my leadership and subsequent development in the CBMA, I started to advocate, at that time, for a moratorium on pastors’ involvement in the CPBC politics which I felt should be left to our lay leaders. We were really determined to make the association soar to heights apart from CPBC.

However, during the open forum, they confronted me with harsh realities and problems in the CPBC and how pastors are used and abused by the lay in the leadership. In the course of discussion, a statement coming from them kept on ringing in my ears related to the lose of trust and confidence on the CPBC leadership. I said to myself, my God, what would happen to the CPBC if this trend continues.

Waiting for the group?

The looks that cause discomfort to some
Photo Credit: YOU Forum

Admittedly, that encounter has changed my direction and since then served as a reminder to me to carry on the principled stance, and not succumb to both pressures and enticement in the course of leadership and service. Thereafter, we shared many things in common, especially  in advocacy for change and development. Although, at times, we differ in approaches. In a way, they have ignited my  idealism and my pre EDSA commitment and courage as change advocate.  Of course, I suffered the consequences of going against the tide in the CPBC politics. Especially, when I dared to frustrate the plan/ scheme of the ruling group to perpetuate their control. I earned their brunt and had a foretaste of crude retaliation and extent of influence, manipulation and maneuver. But the members of YOU in respective areas neutralized their actions and parried some blows saving me from fatal hit.

To the young ministers, thank you for  the challenge, vigilance and idealism that made me stay grounded in principle till the end of my term. Thanks, too, for your support. Don’t lose YOUr wonder. The following lines are for YOU. YOU are in the position to lead the movement for change in our institutions and organizations.

When everyone seems to understand me
When everything I do gains support
You pose a challenge and raise endless questions 
You test my principle and conviction 
And you’re always there to call for change
In everything you do
That’s the wonder
The wonder of you

And when you confront me with the problem in our Convention
You give me reasons to change my direction 
Your commitment for change is worth a fortune
You inspire me to carry on
And you’re always there to lend a hand
When the going gets rough and tough
That’s the wonder
The wonder of you

 ____________________________

Article first published  as The Wonder of You:3rd edition  on Padayon Katipan. The author is in the process of transferring posts from other blogs to  converge on this official website.

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Indeed, our labor will never be in vain

Today is Labor Day as celebrated in many countries worldwide. In the Philippines, this year’s celebration has the following theme: Manggagawang Pilipino: Handa sa Hamon ng Makabagong Panahon implying the readiness of Pilipino workers to respond to the challenges of the changing times. In my other blog, I shared the historical significance of this day to commemorate the economic and social achievements of workers.

Rev. Job Santiago addresses the MSPM graduates and their respective families and church members

Rev. Job Santiago addresses the MSPM graduates and their respective families and church members

However, it is not only the historical significance of the Labor Day that reminds me of today’s celebration. Equally worth remembering is the 1st Conferral Ceremony for Master of Socio Pastoral Ministries (MSPM) graduates held three years ago at Ajuy Christian Development Academy, Iloilo, Philippines. It was graced by no other than the General Secretary of the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches (CPBC), Rev. Job A. Santiago, who was the conferral speaker.

The occasion could have been a day of rejoicing for me as it would be a culmination of my pioneering and voluntary work. I was supposed to give my message for the pioneer graduates. Unfortunately, seven months before the event, I was seriously ill caused by chronic heart ailment, compounded by unusual nerve disorder.

Worse, my vulnerable condition was taken advantage by the group who had an axe to grind against me for leading the move  to frustrate their scheme  to railroad the selection process for top post in the CPBC. Even to the extent of manipulating circumstances to shame me including an attempt to derail the graduation of the pioneering MSPM students. While I have long forgiven the perpetrators, recollection of the event continues to add significance to the successful endeavors which are manifestations of God’s grace and strength over our weaknesses.

Dazen Dawn delivers my message for the MSPM pioneer graduates

Dazen Dawn delivers my message for the MSPM pioneer graduates

Anyway, though bedridden and unable to join the event, my message still reached the target audience. It was delivered by my daughter Dazen Dawn.
Entitled MSPM: Another story of endless possibilities, it was published on PADAYON: Our Life journey. I decided to reblog my post in two installments to commemorate the Labor Day.

“Today, we are witnesses to another story of endless possibilities. Overcoming the tests of times and circumstances, our pastors in North Iloilo and Negros will receive with joy and pride, without necessarily being boastful, their hard- earned certificates in today’s Conferral Ceremony. The choice of the date for this event, which happened to be Labor Day, was more circumstantial than intentional.

However, viewed in the context of the long winding road trod by students and faculty to sustain the MSPM program, the date has become doubly significant. With gladness, we can shout on this Labor Day that our labour is not in vain, after all.

MSPM2

The biblical account of the feeding of the 5,000+ serves as inspiration to the MSPM story. Aware of the needs of the time, a boy offered whatever he has to respond to the call for service. He was not disturbed by overwhelming discrepancies and limitations, even criticisms. His voluntary spirit made a difference. Amidst reservations, if not downgrading of the modest offering, Jesus made use of what was available and another miracle happened.

An inspiring story to remind us that our labor, no matter how small and simple, will never be in vain in the Lord. Let me stress this point because it appears that our past experiences of difficulties or disappointments have made us callous and apathetic for change, especially as far as organizational or institutional life is concerned. Sometimes, we cannot even start any good project or movement because we are already overpowered by the difficulties and perceived problems or impossibilities, even before we give it a try.

MSPM students taking up the examinations

The MSPM Program has a foretaste of this experience. Since its start in 2007, some downgraded the voluntary effort while others already expressed skepticism of its sustainability, even before it is tested. Worse, there were those who consistently campaign against it when the program was well accepted by pastors, even to the extent of recruiting those already participating in the MSPM program to join the program they promote.

In our response, we dared the critics to a debate whoever they are and wherever they want. We argue that MSPM has been designed with quality not inferior to what Central Philippine University offered in Master of Social Work program which was patterned to that of the University of the Philippines- Diliman, yet friendly and affordable for pastors. The faculty are more than qualified. The only difference is compensation because in MSPM, we teach voluntarily, gaining the love and respect of pastors, not monetary profit.

Favorable conditions

Conglomeration of events have been favorable for the design of the MSPM program. A couple of us tried the distance education program of a state college in Iloilo for our doctoral degree which met once a month. Some were also teaching, once a week, in Korean seminary in Iloilo City which offered Master of Arts in Missiology. Moreover, we were inspired by the successful revival of the Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) program in CPU which produced the first graduate, after 30 years. We even opened an extension class with weekly meetings at Convention Baptist Bible College for Negros students.

Those aforementioned favorable trends served as signals for us to entertain the questions: Why can’t we design similar approach for a graduate studies program for pastors? If it was successfully implemented in professional social work courses, why can’t we do the same for pastors? But, how?

MSPM graduates pose for posterity together with Rev. Santiago after the Conferral Ceremony

MSPM graduates pose for posterity together with Rev. Santiago after the Conferral Ceremony

My previous sad experience has also served its purpose. When elected as president of Convention Baptist Ministers Association, I continued the term of my predecessor in the committee which was tasked to study and recommend to the CPBC Board cases of pastors undergoing graduate programs from other theological institutions. The arguments were overwhelming against recognizing the degrees from other schools not affiliated with the CPBC and related affiliations. The most that I could do at that time was raised the question: Can CPBC provide alternatives?”

(To be continued)

Breakthroughs

Mother and Son

Our youngest son, Krislenn Edz, who claimed to be an aspiring novelist, made a breakthrough by posting the first chapter of his “novel.” Born in December 1999, during the transition of millennium, my wife and I agreed to christen him with a combination of Christmas and millennium.

I have also populated the Published Articles with new links and added another page. Dubbed Breakthroughs, it will highlight significant initiatives that have contributed to the promotion of social work profession, as well as advocacies in development work. Soon, I will include milestones in my stint as national president of the Convention Baptist Ministers Association (CBMA).

These breakthroughs share something in common. They are by-product of linkages and networking which, to my conviction, are the essence of the community of faith designed by God. Although known by various names in different circumstances or beliefs, the terms are popular in development endeavors.

My fondness in the concept of networking began while conducting a study on the subject as development strategy of non-government organizations (NGOs) for my Master of Social Work thesis in the University of the Philippines- Diliman. Since then I have internalized the learnings and live with it in whatever development endeavors I engage in.

Foremost, is the yearly observance of the Non-government Organizations and People’s Organizations (NGO PO) week in Iloilo every first week of December. During my stint as co-chairman of the Provincial Development Council, our network, Iloilo Council of Social Development, Inc. (ICSD) spearheaded a move for such declaration. Subsequently, it has been institutionalized by Provincial Ordinance No. 2000-042 and City Regulation Ordinance No. 2001-190 to give due recognition to the role in nation building. This gives birth to the broadest network of civil society organizations, Iloilo Coalition of NGOs and POs (ICON). ICON has become a point of convergence to enhance the participation of NGOs and POs in Iloilo.

Next, is the “Pilgrimage for Peace” to call and pray for an end to violence and for peaceful elections Initiated by Central Philippine University (CPU), CBMA and ICON in 2004, the pilgrimage is held every national elections in our country to dramatize the call for clean, honest and peaceful elections.

Thirdly, the Social Work Week in Western Visayas. I could still recall the event in 2005 while presiding the meeting of social workers in Region VI in 2005 to discuss and plan out activities to promote the social work profession. We wanted to highlight the Ruby Anniversary of the Social Work Law in that year. The Social Work Law (R.A. 4373) was passed on June 19, 1965 to regulate the practice of social work in the Philippines. However, it was noticed that the significance of the date of the passage of the Social Work Law had not been officially observed unlike other social welfare legislations which were passed even later.

Prof. Dz Patriarca-Lariza, leads the celebration of the First Social Work Week in Iloilo.


The consultation sparked the move to advocate for the declaration of June 13-19 as Social Work Week. It gained strong support from other social work-led organizations and alliances in the region, as well as government officials and NGO leaders in the Regional Development Council (RDC). The resolution was endorsed RDC and the Department of Social Welfare and Development. Soon, the move gained nationwide support.

As a response, almost all of the provinces and major cities in Region VI through respective Sangguniang Panlalawigan/Panglunsod have already declared June 13-19 as Social Work Week in support of such initiative. Eventually, the national association of social workers has declared a nationwide celebration every June.

Other breakthroughs in succeeding blogs.