Tag Archives: volunteerism

Resurrection: A Payback?

Article first  published on PADAYON: Our Life Journey.

Image Credit: turnbacktogod.com

Image Credit: turnbacktogod.com

Let me propose this angle in addition to the countless and unlimited significance of the resurrection of Jesus to our daily lives. Of course, we are aware of the basic teaching that resurrection is the cornerstone of our Christian faith. This has been elaborated every year by preachers of various religious groups and denominations.

For a change, let us explore resurrection as a reward to the greatest volunteer the world ever had. A precedence that may inspire millions of nameless volunteers worldwide. No matter how unsolicited this inspirational piece appears to some, though. Others may dislike this proposal. Volunteers will even protest the title. But certainly majority will agree with the claim that Jesus is the greatest volunteer.

Biblical writers have various description of the voluntary act of Jesus. But I like the Pauline version in Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV): “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

The Gospel records instances when Jesus insists on undergoing the voluntary process despite the supposed favor from people who know him as the messiah. When John the Baptist appears reluctant to perform the baptism ritual, Jesus prevails on him: “Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matthew 4:14-15)

Many times, Jesus rebukes his disciples in their actuations to seek redress to injustice and discrimination against his dignity. Unwelcome in his attempt to bridge the gap between warring cultures, he suffers discrimination in one Samaritan village. When James and John insinuate punishment to the humiliating experience, Jesus forbids therm. (Luke 9:51-55). Jesus calmly tells Peter to hold peace, in the latter’s attempt to fight back against the savagery of his captors: “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew26:53)

He washes his disciple’s feet at the height of leadership struggle position during the last supper. The lobbying of both John and James and their mother for position in the kingdom might have sparked the internal conflict. Hence, nobody appears willing to do the menial t ask which earlier they enjoy taking turns. Jesus volunteers.

Jesus consistently exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism in his lifestyle and teachings. He voluntarily follows all the requirements of the law, although in some instances, he deliberately skirt man -made unreasonable insertion and imposition to the requirements of God. He successfully passes the final challenge in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Subsequently, the divine justice expedites the awarding ceremony for the greatest volunteer in the world. St. Paul beautifully uses this clincher to the narrative of Jesus voluntary act: Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11)

I am not advocating pay back mentality.  Jesus even issues a strange rebuke to the perpetrators and perpetuators of this kind of mentality in Luke 14:12- 14. “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Youth volunteers pose for posterity after the forum on volunteerism sponsored by ICON. An umbrella network of volunteers and development advocates, ICON allocates a day for volunteerism endeavors in the week-long celebration of NGO- PO Week in Iloilo.

YMCA volunteers together with adviser pose for posterity after the forum on volunteerism sponsored by ICON. An umbrella network of volunteers and development advocates, ICON allocates a day for volunteerism endeavors in the week-long celebration of NGO- PO Week in Iloilo.

Certainly, volunteers do not expect rewards. The bible teaches us to give  or  serve without expecting a return. The last parable in the Gospel of Matthew (25:31-46) confirms this with the scenario of great surprises. In the final end, during the awarding ceremony, as the chaff is separated from the grain, sheep and goat divided, the result is beyond expectation. But volunteers receive their awards.

True, volunteers do not expect awards. But who can question God’s divine justice to recompense the faithful? Is there something wrong in viewing resurrection as a payback for volunteerism?

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Let your tears flow

Guest blog post by Arlyn Liling Tagakapis*

Let your tears flow,
Why be ashamed of them?
They are not signs of weaknesses, but power;
Allow that salty water to stream down your cheek.
Stick out your tongue and lick that bitter taste of salt that fell into your lips.
It’s the mark of your oneness with the oceans and seas.

Let your tears flow,
Why do you have to wipe them off with paper or cloth?
Allow the wind and the sun to dry your face;
The storm is not your enemy.
They must exist to keep the planet earth alive.
Let all the elements of the earth to work with you as you re-build your lives – restoring your hopes and dreams with your loved ones.

Let your tears flow,
Why so anxious of having a “clean” face?
Let tears collect into your palm and draw stain at the cloth that covers your body;
Then, open your arms and fly; and plunge into the water.
The rivers must know of your own story, loud and clear.
Let your tears flow,
Why be afraid of your vulnerabilities?
They tell you that you are human; embrace your pain and perplexities; they are holy:
Your tears of uncertainty remind you that you belong to a family, relatives, friends, and neighbors and the world.

Let your tears flow,
Why hide them with a smile?
Do you know that mermaids don’t cry and so the most unhappy specie on earth?
Have you had a chance to see mermaid? I hadn’t either.
And we fret over so many things we don’t know about?
Take things one at a time… moment by moment.

Let your tears flow,
Why fear to be blinded by tears?
Your tears are rain upon the blinding dust of the earth that hardens your soul.
As tears cover the eyes, it uncovers the heart.
And, in this blindness, prepares the way for a different kind of seeing: sight through the “eyes of faith.”

_________________

*Arlyn is a US based friend and partner in volunteerism and advocacy for change and development. A versatile fellow, she wrote this poem in solidarity with all the people in the Philippines who face harsh realities and must re-build their dreams around the “catastrophic damage” left by the strongest ever tropical cyclone (dubbed in the country as Yolanda, internationally known as Haiyan) that made a series of landfall in the Island.

MSPM: Another story of endless possibilities

Today is Labor Day as celebrated in many countries worldwide. In my other blog, I shared some researches on the historical significance of this day to commemorate the economic and social achievements of workers. Inspired by the Pauline epistle to the Corinthian, I titled it Our labor will never be in vain.

However, it is not only the historical significance of the Labor Day that inspired me to blog. Equally inspiring is the 1st Conferral Ceremony for Master of Socio Pastoral Ministries graduates held two 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. However, though bedridden, 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.

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.

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.

MSPM pioneer students during the Semestral Joint Class in North Negros Baptist Bible College

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?

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)

Pushing beyond limits

Elsie E. Malabon, cum laude, leads the BSSW graduates of the Department of Social Work

The 84th Commencement Exercises of Central Philippine University on April 15 has been inspiring. The Department has produced 12 graduates in the Bachelor of Science in Social Work, one with academic honor, cum laude. Together with 3 others, the honoree was not even expecting to graduate this semester, as some of her subjects were supposed to be offered in the 1st semester classes , a sort of lapses in advising.

But, as it were, I took time to study the complex condition of irregular students upon resuming my position as head of the Department. Thereafter, arranging their load in unconventional manner and semestral offerings so as to minimize the period of their stay. This skill is honed from those unlikely experiences in past life – my exposure in gambling during my youth. Like risk taking and the skills in arranging/organizing cards, mahjong tiles to win despite their weak/losing state. Maximizing all the chances, even pushing beyond limit. There are more who will benefit from this approach on semestral graduation in October and for a couple of years or so.

The Magic Four with their thesis adviser. (L-R) Kareen Jay Diesto, Sr. Aubrey Casimiro DC, Araceli Tondo, the author, and Carol Kay Cortuna-Blando

Equally inspiring is the fate of our Master of Science in Social Work (MSSW) graduates. There are four of them who made it completing the Magic 10 to mark the 10th year of the revival of University’s MSSW program. It was in 2002 when we reactivated the program, a couple of years after I finished my Master of Social Work from the University of the Philippines- Diliman. An adventurous attempt, considering the odds, we pursued the move with a simple goal i.e. to produce even one graduate in 3 years time to convince the public that we really mean business this time.

With the strong support of Dr. Fely David, Dean of Graduate Studies, we succeeded to achieve it during the University’s historic Centennial Year in 2005. One of our MSSW pioneering students succeeded to complete the academic requirements and passed the final defense. Subsequently, Mrs. Lolita Camarig, municipal social welfare and development officer of Leganes had joined the commencement march of the Centennial graduates. Thereafter, we produced graduates with non BSSW degrees who subsequently hurdled the board exam, namely: Aujun Labrador, Lunnie Lasquite, and Melody Arandela-Ambangan. Ruby Plagata, another graduate, will soon take the social work licensure examination. Our other graduate is Prof. Maribel Gonzales, former head of the Department of Social Work, University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos.

Pose for posterity after the graduation ceremony.The author, flanked by Kareen Jay (L) and Carol Kay (R)

Completing the Magic 10 are this year’s four MSSW graduates. Of the four, two are faculty of the Department of Social Work, CPU, namely: Carol Kay Cortuna-Blando and Kareen Kay Diesto. Both are close to my heart being my students during their undergraduate years; colleagues when they joined the teaching force of the Department; partners in volunteerism and development endeavors.

But organizational changes separated us for awhile until we have the opportunity to work together again. Having something in common both as victims and victors of experts in manipulating people and circumstances, we developed the biblical slogan “overcome evil by doing good.” Renewing our relationship, we committed to resume the interrupted partnership and development including their MSSW degree. Thereafter, I served as their thesis adviser struggling with them through thick and thin until they were conferred with their hard earned degree yesterday.

The other two are personnel of the Colegio del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus,namely: Sr. Aubrey Casimiro and Araceli Tondo. The bonding we have may not be comparable to the previous ones. Yet, it is also interesting and equally significant. Adverse circumstances did not hinder their desire to finish studies according to their schedule. Even my serious sickness and subsequent health limitation could not withstand their earnestness to complete the course.

We have experienced pushing beyond limits just to continue our classes. At times, holding reportorial sessions at home due to my limited mobility. In some instances, conducting classes at the University gazebo because I could not make it to the 3rd floor where Graduate School classrooms are located. There was even a time we had classes under the acacia tree beside the Department of Social Work, having no access to the office which used to be an alternate venue for my masteral classes.

But tougher times were just waiting ahead, making their presence felt during thesis writing stage. Aware of my health limitation, we tried to organize their respective schedule to avoid overlapping that would put unnecessary pressures on us both. Despite this, however, unavoidable circumstances compelled us to confront realities that push us beyond our limits.

(More on next post)