|sr. cress // in the back, BAGUIO CITY!|
on january 27th, i had the great privilege of attending the Philippine Ecunemical Peace Platform (PEPP). The PEPP is made up of religious leaders from most of the religions represented here in the Cordilleras, and even outside of the area – born agains, catholics, lutherans, episcopalians, anglicans…the majority of christians were represented! it was such an enlightening experience, and i learned so much!
sr. terezinha and i were only able to attend one of the days because we had meetings the rest of the days the conference was happening, but it was all worth it!
one of the exercises that sticks out in my mind, is when we separated into our different regions – where we were from. sr. t and i were part of the “baguio city” group along with 4 of other sisters, an episcopal priest, and a lutheran pastor. in these groups, our task was to decide what were the 3 root causes in society that created un-peace, rather than our desired peace, for society.
when we got together in our group, at first i was really intimidated, cause wow – these religious were all super educated, articulate, knew obviously baguio city way more than i did, and i felt like a student, eyes wide open, wanting to learn more! after going in circles, haha, it was funny cause again, i somewhat ended up facilitating the conversation cause i noticed that we were just repeating ourselves! so we were told that we had to write down our “3 root causes” on 3 separate sheets of paper…and so, i figured, that could be my contribution, along with my sharing my insights from working with the CICL at the jail. 🙂 and so, the three we came up with were….Poverty, Maldevelopment (if that’s a word), and Moral Decadence. haha, can you tell these were not in own words?
baguio city a couple of years ago, was NOT what it is today. today, there are about 400,000 people living here, when previously this province had a population of only about 25,000…however, more and more people flocked towards this area, and now, it is what it is today – polluted, impoverished in many areas, and as a result, with an increase of population, the more likely it is to have “moral decay.” but that’s what happens when baguio city is given the name, “summer capital of the philippines” 🙂
after i taped these sheets of paper on the wall, we were told we needed a spokesperson. and so, almost instantly, the whole group looked to ME! i was like, uh uh, no thanks! it’s ok, you guys go ahead! and they said…no! you learned a lot, so you can share with everyone what we talked about. so immediately, i was like, sr. terezinha! ahhh! and so, i took more notes for myself…and the next thing you know, i talked about our “3 root causes” and threw in some of my own thoughts and insights 🙂 haha, and then, i realized, whoa, i just got to share and represent baguio city with a room of 60 religious. awesome 🙂 it was great! my group gave me high fives right after. i smiled big. HAHA 🙂
here are some of our thoughts from our discussion:
poverty: dysfunctional families are on the rise, and especially with the increase of OFWs (overseas filipino workers), there is more break-up within the family. i also learned that during examination times for the colleges (right now, especially), in order to pay tuition, a lot of students will prostitute themselves, many times on the college campuses themselves. it’s really sad, and it happens. when in poverty, people will do anything for money. 🙁 and so, the cycle of poverty continues.
maldevelopment: due to the urbanization of baguio city and the increase of people here –> corruption. lands are now being fought over as more land is having greater monetary value too. baguio city did not PLAN to have such a high population, and so, everyone is dealing with the consequences.
moral decadence: root values of the cordillera people are being watered down, and this is also leading to the break-up of families. robbery and theft is on the rise, especially during the holiday season (i don’t even want to think about how many CICL will be in the jail after the panagbenga season). something that was also brought up was westernization, and how this is contributing to gangsterism. i learned a lot about the gang life here in baguio. really interesting.
a lot of the matters we discussed were consequences of these root causes…and it was really overwhelming. but what was really good, was that we all learned lots. it was very inspiring!
here are some of the things said by various people at the platform:
- we have the water, others are drinking it – the philippines is FULL of natural resources!
- how do we overturn un-peace to peace?
- the preferential option for the poor, is no longer an option. this is IMPERATIVE.
- “if we are not with the poor, then we are not part of the process towards the peaceful transformation in society.” – sr. cress