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).
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.
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.
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.
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