Welcoming the Lunar New Year, The Peacemakers' Circle co-organized with cultural workshop group, Sanghabi, a "Temple Hippity-Hopping!" (ushering the Year of the White Metal Rabbit) held on Feb.2, 2011 (Thursday).
A Buddhist, a Muslim, a Catholic, and Indigenous/Folk Spirituality practitioners visited 5 Tibetan Buddhist and Chinese Buddhist temples around Sta. Mesa and Chinatown in Manila, namely: Philippine Karma Kagyu Buddhist Society (Tibetan); Philippine Nyingma Palyul Tibetan Buddhist Temple; Seng Guan temple (Chinese Buddhist); Simbahan ng Santo Sing Kong (Chinese ecumenical church); and the Manila Buddhist (Chinese) temple. (see more photos at: http://www.facebook.com/al
On February 5, 2011 (Saturday) The Peacemakers' Circle joined forces with the United Muslim-Christian Peacemakers Association (UMCPA) of Tala to gather their youth group, the Muslim-Christian Youths for Peace and Development (MCYPD) in an Interfaith Harana (Friendship Serenade/visit to Faith Centers).
As early as 6:00am in the morning, around 20 youth and elder members of UMCPA & MCYPD started to board the hired jeepney and were about to leave their grassroots community of Tala in Caloocan City. Some of the youths were very excited about the trip that they got up as early as 1:00am to prepare-- a few never even got to sleep due to the excitement. It was not just because we were asking them to perform their dance for an audience but more because they knew they were going to visit two different communities of different religions which they were so unfamiliar with-- the Baha'i Faith and Sikhism.
At the Bahaí Center in Malate, Manila, the group were warmly welcomed by the Baha'i' community, in particular their youths. The short program started with interfaith prayers led by UMCPA elders, Pres. Eric Tomarompong (Muslim) and Nay Loreta Borlongan (Christian), while a youth sang a Bahaí prayer. After a brief orientation on the Bahai Faith and an explanation about the World Interfaith Harmony Week celebration, introductions were made around the circle.
This was followed by the highlight of the program: the Muslim and Christian youths then offered their gift of friendship-- a Muslim Maranao traditional dance called Singkil. The performance was warmly and heartily received by everyone. The deep feeling of gratitude and oneness spontaneously broke into a community song: We Are One Family.
Come noontime the group bid farewell to their new friends in the Bahai community as they made their way to the Luneta park for a picnic lunch. As one spends the day together with the group one cannot help but feel that they are truly more than just a Muslim-Christian organization-- they are one big happy Muslim-Christian FAMILY.
In the afternoon yet another exciting new experience awaited the young group as they visited and entered for the first time a Sikh Gurudwara (temple).
The Sikhs are famous for their open kitchen as part of their spiritual practice so the group was able to experience sitting on the floor and being served with the deliciously spicy Indian food. After the physical bodies were fed, food for the spirit was then served as they were toured inside the worship hall of the temple and were oriented to the basic teachings of the Sikh faith. At this point they were joined by Peacemakers' Circle members who are seminarians from the Xaverian missionary (Catholic) and who were also participating in the visitation.
Capping off the visit and offering their gratitude and gift of friendship to the Sikh community, the youths presented an action song of love, peace and freedom (in Tagalog) which said something like:
"Love flowing like the stream is my spirit. Peace waving like the sea is my spirit. Freedom soaring like the bird is my spirit."
Young spirits did soar, wave and flow as seen in the eyes, heard in the laughter and felt in the company of this remarkable group that day and in the remaining days of the World Interfaith Harmony Week.
(view more photos here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2079508&id=1376771160&l=f6f470fc2a)