Backward glance, forward look
The year 2016 started with the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in January in Cebu City with the theme “Christ in us, Our Hope of Glory” that sent a strong message of hope for the faithful. The proclamation of Cardinal Bo, the Pope’s representative, at the concluding mass of the 51st IEC that the Filipinos are the missionaries of Asia posed a challenge to all Catholics to strengthen their faith.
After the jubilation over the success and the impact of the IEC Congress, that faith was immediately challenged by the election fever which brought so much divisiveness among the citizenry from the campaign to the six months of the new administration. The war against drugs has triggered extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuses that will put to test our faith. Events in the rest of the world are greatly affecting us particularly the crisis in Syria and the rippling effect of the massive displacement of people. This is compounded by the cold attitude of nations towards the immigrants from war torn countries.
As we look back to the year that was, we need to tighten the ties that bind us – family, friends, barkada, colleagues. Fellow workers neighbors and help influence those who are in a position to tear us apart.
Personally, 2016 was a year of wonder and surprise for me and I have so much to be thankful for. First of all, this year was my seventh year of my twice a week dialysis sessions and I feel very good. Friends and former students surprised me many times this year with calls or text messages that they would like to help me with my medical concerns. It is so heartening to read their messages or greetings appreciating what I have done. There are also those whom I worked with in recent times who have demonstrated their appreciation for the work I do. I look forward to a healthier year.
Incidentally, 2016 was also the 150th anniversary when Pope Pius IX entrusted the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help to the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (the Redemptorist Missionaries) with the mandate to “Make her Known throughout the world.” The icon is present in almost every home of the Filipino family and the devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help (OMPH) has become a part of the Filipino culture. This devotion is an example of binding our ties in these trying times. These ties will be further strengthened and deepened at the Visayas Our Mother of Perpetual Help Congress to be held on February 16-18, 2017 at the Redemptorist Church, Cebu City.
The Congress will discuss How the OMPH Icon and Novena Began in the Philippines and How It Spread Throughout the Country. It will also Look into the Novena Texts, the Historico-Anthropological Perspective of Marian Devotion in the Philippines in General and the OMPH Devotion in Particular, and DEBO(MISYON).
The Congress is an inspiring start for the year 2017. I look forward to the day when the huge attendance in all the eleven novena masses every Wednesday will be translated into a forceful work for our broken and wounded humanity.
A more aggressive advocacy to fight violence against women and children is one of the things to look forward to. Women’s groups have broadened their horizons in empowering women particularly in the barangay level. After numerous paralegal trainings for barangay officials, they have branched out to the environmental concern. The latest program of the Legal Alternatives for Women Center (LAW Inc.) is “Amomahon ang Kababayen-an, Amomahon ang Kalikupan” (Care for Women, Care for the Environment). We look forward to women-initiated environmental programs particularly those related to disaster preparedness and disaster management.
In the field of education, the teaching of Social Studies and History is a major concern in relation to the implementation of the K to 12 curriculum. The events in 2016 have shown the neglect of the social sciences and history that caused the lament of some individuals that something should be done about our students who are ignorant of the Martial Rule in the country.
There is a proposal to revive the Cebu Association of Social Studies Educators (CASSE), an organization of Social Studies teachers during Martial Law which met every last Saturday of the month to tackle content and strategy in teaching Social Studies.
Among the strategies discussed was the teaching of Critical Thinking, Values Education. A complement to this was the Education Forum (EF) program of the Association of the Major Religious Groups in the Philippines which held teacher institutes in the field of English Communication, Socio-Economics, Philippine History, World History, Science and Mathematics. All these were done to counter the conceptual approach at that time which upheld the values of the dictatorship. All in all it was an alternative education.
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