About that time

It took me feeling utterly miserable on a sick day to get around to blogging again.  Or conversely, it took a really awesome reunion to inspire me to write while feeling under the weather.

13 months ago I left Mindanao to return to the US, and while leaving behind many close Filipino friends, I also left behind a close missionary friend Laura Wise.  Yesterday, thanks to efforts by Pasadena First UMC, I was reunited with Laura and it was like my family was here to visit.  We had been through a lot together in the 5 months since she had arrived at InPeace, and has been through a whole lot more in the 13 months since.

You know that feeling of being totally at ease with someone because they’ve been there too, struggled through similar experiences and still managed to adapt?  Well, it’s a feeling of trust and contentment, and that’s what I had last night.

Our friends at Pasadena FUMC organized a young adult missionary panel.  Joy, Clifford, Laura and I briefly shared who we are and a little about are mission experience to the youth of Pasadena, a couple Fuller students and some young adults considering mission service.  Judy Chung, Global Ministries’ associate general secretary for missionary services (in layman’s terms, my Boss’ boss) gave a presentation about how  young people could get involved in [Gen]eration Transformation, the UMC’s push for young adult engagement in the world.

Image

For me it was a great night.  I got to see old friends, help young people take the first steps in discerning their call to mission-and in listening to the opportunities today for young adults in the UMC, was able to reflect on my journey here.  I don’t know if I have my original application handy, but I definitely want to read what I said 3 years ago.  This program transformed me and broadened my horizons…not that my horizons were particularly narrow or anything.  It’s incredible how many things have happened and people i’ve met since I joined the program, and I can say with great certainty, this program was way better for me than doing my masters right out of college.

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Annual Conference Sharing

As promised about 5 minutes ago, below is the written script of my sharing. To listen while watching the video, click here.  Plenary 5 video, at the bottom of the page.  Scroll to 9:48 to listen.

Oh and Cal-Pac Taskƒorce Philippines’ resolutions got adopted! So cheers all around for those who made it happen.

If you are interested in further articles about my time check out this article from Global Ministries

Here are the words I spoke..sort of.  I don’t always follow exactly what I write.

Hello,

My name is Adam Shaw and I am a young adult missionary with Global Ministries. I served 18 months in the Philippines and am currently serving as Mr. Taskforce Philippines as a part of the Justice and Compassion Essential Ministry Team. I have been asked to share a reflection on what it means for me to be part of a church that offers young adults opportunities to serve:

My ministry in the Philippines began by building relationships with tenant rice farmers and urban poor communities by living with them for about 5 weeks.  With the farmers, I helped with the chores, pampered the carabao-the water buffalo and shared meaningful time with their families.  With the urban poor, I watched the children, played cards with the youth, attended organizer meetings, listened to their stories of struggle and laughed at their jokes.  I came a stranger, but I left as ANAK, as a son, as kuya, as brother, I left as family.

I also left tired.  I was so tired from being away from my room for a month, my clothes were so dirty from me trying and failing at washing them in the stream, much to the amusement of the locals.  And so when, 2 days after I got back to Davao Francis, my supervisor, said to me: “Adam, they are inviting you back for a solidarity march.” And I, my naivety on full display asked him, how long of a march?

He said,  93 miles in 5 days.

My feet hurt just thinking about it, I was still tired from my 5 week adventure, my clothes were sort of clean,  I was physically drained, mentally exhausted , my heart was homesick and all I wanted to say was No!

The B’laan Lumad tribes of Tampakan  were asking me to march with them as they publicly demonstrated their peaceful resistance to the land grabbing entry of a large-scale open pit mine in their ancestral land, a march that transverses  what is the affected watershed, the entire far south of Mindanao.

I was called to join the march.  Called, tired as I was, homesick as I was, dirty and smelly as I was.  The first day, it was hot& humid.  the second day was more of the same, plus we got rained on. by the third day I was carrying my shoes in one hand because I had blisters on my heels, and shuffling along in my flip flops because I had also blisters in between of and on the underside of my toes, and it was impossible for me to walk without pain.  By the end of the fourth day, I was utterly exhausted, sleep deprived, suffering from my recurring amoebiasis and unable to walk because of my infected blisters.  Now every night after the day’s march there was a cultural and solidarity night, as more people joined the march every day.  I usually sang.  That night however, I wrote a letter and had a friend translate it, as I read my letter aloud. It was a letter that asked for forgiveness for my state of being, and one that asked for their permission for me to stop and rest before catching up.  It was a letter of shame. I was ashamed. Ashamed because the nanay’s the grandmothers, the children, who I had marched alongside of for 60 miles, they were still going strong, going because they had to, because it was their ancestral land, their HOME that was at stake, because marching was their hope.

Marching into General Santos City, Day 3
Marching into General Santos City, Day 3

In the depths of my shame, the B’laan thanked me, and gave me grace. A Loving Grace for we had walked together, a Humbling Grace, because I could go no further.  An empowering Grace of why they couldn’t also rest.  Inspiring Grace.  Amazing Grace.

On behalf of all young adult missionaries, thank you.  Thank you so much for your love, for your prayers and for your gifts of financial support– that allows us to receive God’s Grace from people with whom we were in ministry with yesterday, and share that Grace, that same amazing grace, to those people with whom we are in ministry today.  Thank you very much.

Here we Go Again

Well. I will be the first one to say that when the going gets tough, my blog gets nothing.  After a frantic 2.5 months of preparation for many activities culminating in our attendance at the Human Rights conference in Manila next month, I can finally say that I’m on my way.  Tomorrow night, I’ll be returning to the Philippines.  It will only be for a month, but in this upcoming month I’m looking forward to renewing relationships, seeing old friends, marveling at how fast babies have grown up, sweating in the heat, riding a habal habal, not stressing for a while and experience Mindanao for the first time through the wonder and excitement of our first time missioners.

I feel like an old soul having written that last phrase.  A wise old soul with some new toys to make my trip easier.  I went to REI and finally bought a hammock, something I’ve wanted for awhile. I also picked up a water purification system, very portable, which gives my mind a great deal of ease as it filters out bacteria and virus’ (HAHA Amoeba! no joy for you!)  I also got a portable solar panel charger.  I’m usually don’t plan on bringing too many electronic devices, however, remembering past missions, I think it will be a good investment for the present and the future.  Plus it’s green energy.  What’s not to love?

This past weekend I was at the Cal-Pac Annual Conference.  It was in fact, my first annual conference ever.  Joy Prim, my dear colleague in mission wrote her a reflection of her experiences here (http://joyprim.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/the-highlight-reel/) I don’t really have many reflections about AC, rather, I was asked to do some  public reflecting in a morning Plenary session.  There is a video archive of this.  I’ll post a separate blog about what I said and link the video in there.

 

Right now, I’m just doing my laundry, trying to remember to do the things I need to before I leave, and pick out which bag I should take with me.  I’ll be adding more content to my blog once I arrive in the Philippines, about my vacation and my work, so I’ll keep you posted 🙂

 

Godspeed

Creation Day

Wow.  Last weekend my friend Stephanie invited me on a day hike in Joshua Tree National Park.  That friday was the nicest day of that week, and it was a beautiful way to enjoy a the harsher beauty of God’s creation.  ImageThe park brochure describes the Joshua Tree as a tree that looks reminiscent of a Dr. Seuss, a spindly tree that splays branches in any direction.  Joshua Tree is in the desert, so there are lots of desert flora, along with some cool looking eroded rocks.ImageWe hiked in a dry stream bed for the first 2 miles, then started climbing up some hills and saw old and abandoned prospect sites from gold miners that were from the Gold Rush days.  We stopped and looked at what used to be mine shafts/holes.  Luckily they were filled with rubble so we didn’t have too big of a temptation to see if we’d have better luck than the miners.  After about 3 miles, we got to the top of a hill with a gorgeous view. ImageWe saw a couple more Joshua Trees on our way down: They were in bloom!Image

At church yesterday, instead of a traditional sermon, Pastor Sandie invited Poet Ed Rosenthal to share some spoken word along with some other readings of poets. Ed Rosenthal was lost in Joshua Tree, in the same desert, for 6.5 days.  He shared his story to First LA UMC after he was rescued a couple years ago, and is now getting ready to publish his experience in a book of poetry.  It’s easy to forget  how unforgiving these beautiful vistas are if one is unlucky enough to get caught in them.  I’m grateful that Ed was able to be with us, and that he shared that he still is struggling with survivor’s guilt, as he was the only one to be rescued from his party.  Image

What’s a real shame, as a good friend of mine pointed out, is that 20 million people live within 2.5 hours of driving, and the park doesn’t see many first time visitors.  But hey, now you know it’s out there.  I just want to leave you with a poem that was read on sunday.

‘Wild Geese’

by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to you imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–

over and over, announcing your place

in the family of things.

 

Los Angeles: City of Bukid

Okay.  I admit.  It’s really hard to come up with witty and or inspiring eye catching titles for my blog posts now that I’m not constantly in danger of being a victim of EJK or military questioning or whatever.  And even though I’m no longer joining protests all over Mindanao, I can still say that my life is exciting.  It’s a different kind of exciting though, a quieter one.  It’s not less exciting, because Los Angeles is full of life and new things, it’s just not the blood pumping, heart pounding kind of dangerous excitement that I got used to, and may just miss a little bit.  It is exciting to be actually be comfortable in the ‘Comfort Room (CR or bathroom) Whew who knew!

I have been kept decently busy with my new responsibilities.  It’s been a lot of fun getting to know people, to work with them on upcoming events and even to tackle the bane of my skills–fundraising.  My personal goal is to become a fundraising powerhouse and luckily, with the people that I’m surrounded by at work and at home, I think that can be attainable, as farfetched as it seems right now.

You may be wondering at this point, what a Bukid is.  In Bisaya, the common language of Mindanao, Bukids are mountains.  Los Angeles is a city with mountains, yet unlike Davao, it is actually like the Bukid, many stores close sadly at 10pm.  But it’s okay, there are other establishments open, just not the ones you’d want to get a nice dinner at  after a long meeting.

There isn’t a whole lot of news to be reporting stateside.  In the Philippines, Balikatan exercises are starting up again.  These are ‘shoulder to shoulder’ maneuvers between the Armed forces of the United States and the Philippines.  It’s been a yearly thing since oh, 23 years ago.  Every year they use live rounds and civilians always get injured and are made to sign waivers saying they won’t sue the United States etc.  Anyway why should you care?  Because ti’s just a form of empire.  I don’t know what sort of freedom&liberty&equality history you’ve studied but democracy…well democracy doesn’t synergize with empire.  We are an Empire.

Rallying in Zamboanga City
Rallying in Zamboanga City

Just like the British, Japanese, Austria Hungarian, Charlemagne’s, Ottoman, Roman, Chinese and many more empires.  I was just sending a postcard to the philippines and had stamps from the ‘Forever’ series.  I saw one said ‘Justice Forever.’  I wanted to change it to ‘Injustice Forever.’  We can’t kid ourselves and delude ourselves into thinking that an American Empire is conducive to a democratic planet;  It’s not.  An American Empire is conducive to an American luxurious lifestyle…which is great, since we’re americans.  But lets be honest about it.  All this :Leader of the Free World crap that I hear on TV.  It’s easy to be the leader of the free world….when most of the world is oppressed by  our economic/cultural and military juggernaut power.  When no other nation can stand up and have a say without fear of repercussions and sanctions, it’s easy to be the leader of the free world…by default.  I know older folks will say we earned that right in WWII when America liberated the world…and yes I do not deny that America helped win the war.  Yet be wary of belittling the sacrifices of other nations who fought many bloody battles before America entered the fray.  It’s been almost 100 years since WWI ended, and almost 25 years since the Soviet Union fell, and still, we prevail as the only Empire.  The Leader. of the World.  Forget about free world.  Lets just call ourselves, the Leader of Earth.  I like it better.  It sounds less precocious and way more honest than the Leader of the Free World.

Look familiar?  Imagine 1770s.  Colonial townspeople holding up similar signs to protest British Empire. Have we become what our founders fought against not so many years ago?
Look familiar? Imagine 1770s. Colonial townspeople holding up similar signs to protest British Empire. Have we become what our founders fought against not so many years ago?

 

So what’s the point of my little paragraph?  Well this:  The Philippines has trouble passing progressive laws that empower their citizens because the politicians and business leaders, the once who have the power to do so, benefit to much from the current system.  Everywhere that I’ve shared that at home and in church, people shake their heads and say:  They are just super corrupt aren’t they Adam. Yes Bob, they are.

Yet the Philippines is just a microcosm of what global politics is.  The U.N., the United States and the Security council have trouble voting on progressive policies and international laws that empower global citizens and nations..because the elite 10% of the world, us, the 99& in the United States are part of the people that benefit the most from current global politics.  We have the power, we have the privilege.  Liberty, Freedom, Equality and Justice for all…american citizens oh and our euro friends too. And the Saudis cause they have oil.  At some point, we as a people, we as a nation have to step up and say that this is not just, that this is not peace.  As Christians we have to take a good hard look at our lifestyle, at our choices and ask if this is a life Jesus would be proud we had. Are these choices in line with Jesus’ teachings, because Jesus taught justice, Jesus taught liberty, freedom from empire.  Human rights, a society of inclusion based of of love.  Love for one another.

 

So think on that this week.

 

 

New Beginning, Old Friends

Well I’m finally here.

A little over a month since I left the Philippines, flew halfway around the world and reentered into the heart of the Big Apple.  Four weeks since I reconnected with my fellow MIs and shared stories of our struggles, joys, failures and successes. Three weeks since I arrived at my parents’ home in Northern Ohio and was greeted by the cold weather and the warm home cooking, two weeks since I traveled around to supporting and other churches, sharing some of my reflections and experiences in the past 18 months, and just one day after my long awaited arrival in Los Angeles.

I was greeted at the airport by some old friends, who promptly took me to drinks and dinner.  When I say promptly, I mean, the decision was prompt, the travel was not.  Partly due to traffic, mostly just because I wanted to get a look at my new city, and definitely because the Buktaw’s were eager to share their home.  We ate dinner with other friends at a (surprise) mexican restaurant, which was delicious, notwithstanding the $2 margarita special, which was in of itself, enough reason for merriment.

As our drinks and food wound down, conversation turned more serious about issues around community organizing and mobilizing people around certain issues…and I found my spirit at peace.  While I was home, my body rested (sort of) but I missed the spiritual peace/excitement jolt, that I got from my work in the Philippines, and last night, among friends, satisfied with way to much food in my stomach and a little too much exhaustion from the day of traveling, I felt again the glow of the Holy Spirit.

I can say with certainty, that I am excited about my work here, and Mom was right to be afraid:  with people like the ones here, I may just be started on the path to ‘losing myself to the Californians’ as my work, the community of friends and faith help me to find peace, joy and excitement in the love of Christ.

 

 

 

An Open Letter to President Aquino of the Philippines

CANADA-PHILIPPINES SOLIDARITY FOR HUMAN RIGHTS (CPSHR)
1-5687 West Blvd Vancouver, BC Canada
Email: cps_hr@yahoo.ca

06 March 2013

AN OPEN LETTER to His Excellency Benigno Simeon Aquino III

RE: The extrajudicial killing of Barug Katawhan leader Cristina Morales Jose

Mr. President,

The Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights (CPSHR) joins the
Filipino human rights defenders and international rights groups in
strongly denouncing the callous killing of Cristina Morales Jose,
Barangay Kagawad (District Councillor) and Barug Katawhan (People Rise
Up!) mass leader. She was shot dead by an unidentified
motorcycle-riding assassin around 6:00 pm on Monday, March 4th, 2013.
Cristina Morales Jose was also a leader of Bayan Muna (People First)
and member of Barug Katawhan, an organization of the survivors of
Typhoon Pablo that hit Davao Oriental last December 2012.

We send our deepest condolences to her family and the people she
served with passion, asserting that every human person has the right
to demand from the government to be provided with the basic needs for
survival such as food, and shelter, the right for humanitarian aid in
the context of disaster, without any discrimination due to his or her
race, age, class, gender and political affiliation.

As a District Councillor and community activist, Cristina Morales Jose
had exposed the food blockade and militarization of relief operations
in Sitio Limot, Barangay Binondo by the 67th Infantry Battalion of the
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Together with other typhoon
survivors from Baganga, she participated in the three-day Kampuhan or
camp-out in front of the Department of Social Welfare and Development
(DSWD) in Davao City on February 25-28, and demanded the release of
relief goods allocated for the starving typhoon survivors. She had
also protested against the blacklisting of Typhoon Pablo victims by
the Army’s 67th Infantry Battalion who was at the protest.

Human rights group Karapatan Southern Mindanao documented that
Cristina Jose and all those who participated in the camp-out at the
DSWD were harassed by the Barangay Captain and by the Army’s 67th
Infantry Battalion when they went home to their communities. Under
Oplan Bayanihan, 21 military battalions from three Infantry Divisions
(ID) of the AFP have been stationed in the region and this heavy
military presence has resulted in rampant cases of human rights
violations and displacement of the peasants and the Lumad people.

With just a couple of days before the International Women’s Day, we
are strongly reminded that women are also in the forefront of the
struggle for justice and human rights in the Philippines, alongside
the peasants, workers, and indigenous peoples, and that their activism
puts them in the military’s firing line. The killing of Cristina
Morales Jose only highlights the fascist hand of the Aquino government
and its military in putting down any critical dissent, any movement
that fights for basic rights and welfare. It is also ironic that at
the rally in front of the DSWD, Cristina Morales Jose was holding a
placard that said “Bigas, hindi bala, ang ipamahagi placard.

Mr. President, as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines, we ask that you order an immediate pull-out of the 67th
Infantry Battalion and stop Operation Plan Bayanihan, which has
declared all-out war against the people.

We further urge your government to:

1. Conduct an impartial investigation of the 67th IBPA, the DSWD and
other government agencies with possible connections to the murder of
Cristina Morales Jose and ensure the immediate prosecution of the
perpetrators.

2. Stop to the militarization of relief and rehabilitation operations
in Typhoon Pablo affected areas. Immediately turn – over relief and
rehabilitation programs to the civilian government.

3. Conduct an independent fact finding mission composed of lawyers,
church people, academe, and other human rights groups to investigate
Jose’s killing and other violations of international humanitarian law.

Justice for Cristina M. Jose!
Stop the militarization of humanitarian operations in Typhoon Pablo Areas!
Stop the Killings!
End impunity now!

Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights (CPSHR)
http://www.canadaphilippinessolidarity.org/
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Canada-Philippines-Solidarity-for-Human-Rights/

Member: Stop the Killings Network (STKN-Canada)/ International League
of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS-Canada)/ International Women’s Alliance
(IWA)/ Coalition for Migrant Workers Justice (C4MWJ)/ Mining Justice
Alliance (MJA)
Associate Member:International Migrants’ Alliance (IMA)
Proud Supporter of Bayan-Canada and Migrante-Canada

Reflections: My time in Mindanao

When I first arrived, fresh off the plane, I arrived with very few expectations.  I had no idea what to expect.  The Philippines was such a far away tropical dream nation from my homeland that I just didn’t have any notion whatsoever what was in store for me.   From reading the placement site application I was aware in a very holistic form what sort of work InPeace did, so I knew it would have something to do with promoting peace.  I didn’t really know anything about peace actually; I always just thought it was the absence of war.

I remember my orientation days and the getting to know you Icebreaker.  It seemed like no one else really struggled with their words (A for Agreeable I put) like I struggled to come up with mine.  My first impression of the staff was everyone was really focused about who they were as people, and what they cared about.  Everyone was finely honed like a sharp tool…that was something I was envious about because even though I had chosen to become a missionary I didn’t have the purpose and focus that the InPeace staff had.  All I had was passion and ideals.

I remember missionary training.  Everyone else had expectations for their placement sites, everyone else had specific reasons they had applied to be MIs with GBGM.  For me it was just chance, fate:  God’s Will.  I missed the original deadline and barely made it to the second extended deadline (in fact, I think I emailed the YAMS address and asked for 2 extra days.)  I applied because fresh out of college I was looking for adventure, I was looking for direction and for purpose.  I wanted to learn about life and not spend the next 3 years in grad school working on an advanced degree.  I just wanted to start my degree in life.  The MI program was a springboard for me– A springboard into Life.  Not into my future career hopes, at least not knowingly.  I knew that a lot could happen in three years, but I didn’t realize how much could happen in 18 months.  How so many different exposures, experiences and people could change the life of a college boy and make him a more mature Christian man, a passionate advocate for justice and change.

Learning Goals:

One of the goals of the MI program is to have learning goals.  My major problem was that I didn’t have any concrete expectations.  I knew it would be hard.  I knew I would be challenged and I knew that I would miss my home but also that I would have the time of my life.  How do I put those into learning goals?  The only real learning goals I could come up with were:

  1. To learn how to effectively integrate in various communities
  2. To learn how to communicate in meaningful, bonding ways across cultural divides (often non verbally, or with limited knowledge of language)
  3. To embrace challenge and hardship, and be flexible
  4. To discover what in the world Liz meant by ‘community organizing’
  5. To make for myself a new home in a new and different world
  6. To understand what is meant by a ‘ministry of solidarity’

And later I added:

  •   To accept the hope that people placed in me and my capability to help them
  • To become more, to grow, to embrace more people every new day
  • To stay out of the hospital (Healthy!)

Transformation:

I’ve changed a lot in the past 16 months that I’ve been at InPeace.  I haven’t changed so much that people won’t recognize me at home; rather what has changed in me has been my focus, my drive and my will.  I’ve discovered what is important in life to me, I have found purpose, a purpose given to me by the hopes of the communities that I was exposed to, a purpose fueled by the plights of the individuals and the communities in Mindanao and a purpose that is impassioned by a desire for justice and the social transformative gospel of Jesus Christ.  I came to the Philippines willing and ready to be broken…and I was.  I came ready to be molded, and I was.  I came ready to be transformed by people, ideas, and experiences and I was.  I believe that God spoke to me through everyone I met in Mindanao and said:  “Adam, This is who is important to me, let them be important to you also.”

My transformation wasn’t done overnight…or even in 6 months.  It wasn’t pain free or always happy.  I’ve had fears and doubts, sickness and depression.  But I’ve also had joys, happiness, and the tired satisfaction of helping one person tell their story.  God shaped me from the earth that I was and put me into the fire, making me into a tool for the Kingdom of God.

Polarization:

If you had asked me 2 years ago what my opinion of politics was, I would have told you I hated it.  I hate election years, all the mudslinging, bigotry, racism, Christian intolerance, American exceptionalism, bipartisan fights…I hate it.  It’s just a popularity contest that is won by the contestant who can knock the other contestant down the most. The democracy of the United States was a joke to me.  I never read political articles nor cared for debates.

After having been involved in polarizing political action campaigns during the past 15 months, it is correct to say that my political poles have been charged and magnetized towards justice for the people, tolerance for the discriminated, fair labor rights for the working classes, and quality education for all.  I read the news a lot more, comment on forums; have political discussions with my friends.  I have been interviewed by major TV networks and guested on political radio shows.  In the Philippines, it has become impossible for me not to be involved in politics…and that plight of the people gives me purpose in the grind of ‘western democracy.’

Next Steps:

I value everything that I have been taught and shown during my stay.  I know that I have become more focused, mature, flexible and understanding during my time in Mindanao.  I always had passion and ideals, but now I know how to organize communities around issues, and how to manifest the ideals that are within me.  InPeace taught me things that I didn’t know I wanted to learn, until after I learned them.  My experience here has been excellent.  I will not ever forget how I was changed by the people of Mindanao, by the volunteers and organizers who serve them or by the church workers and lay leaders that live their spiritual calling serving the people of God’s Kingdom.

My next step is to be involved in similar capacities when I get home.  I now know where to look to be involved: i.e to discover what issues are people dealing with.  I’m happy that I’ll be working in L.A. because I have a strong bond with the Philippines and would be thrilled if I can make them part of being my next steps, for yes, I cannot forget the people who placed their hope in me, a foreigner, a young man, to tell their stories and to not let them be forgotten in the press for unlimited profits, wealth and fame.

Bucket List:

I don’t really have a bucket list.  My experience has been so earth shattering and wondering that I can’t honestly think of anything else that I missed out on.  I would love to go to Palawan or do some touristy things. That can always wait until my next visit, for I will surely be back.  I did want to climb Mt. Apo but I can be contented with seeing it rise from the morning clouds outside my windows.  Mainly on my bucket list is to spend time with my friends before I leave, to reminisce on the good times and on the bad:  To enjoy the last weeks that we have together and to look forward to coming back again.

Manilakbayan 2012

Since November 30th and until December 12th, I’ll be in Manila participating in a series of scheduled events called Manilakbayan Ng. Mindanao. Manilakbayan is a journey of people of the Lumad, Moro and settler backgrounds, people who are being oppressed by government policies and who are constant victims of human rights violations. The 4 goals of Manilakbayan are the following:

1: To stop the Killings of indigenous people and of environmental advocats
2: To influence government policy through lobbying various decision making offices (DENR, DOJ, COM, NCIP)
3: To educate and raise awareness of the issues and gravity of escalating human rights violations in Mindanao by holding forums in schools, churches and other venues
4: To build a network of support by forming relationships with national partners with whom future beneficial and cooperative agendas can be realized.

It’s been pretty hectic and tiring but here are some pictures from the first 4 days of events

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4118971379278.2141670.1433070003&type=1&l=50782cfe90

Environmental & Human Rights

It’s been almost a month since my last blog post.  In this case, no news means tons of news.  As in i’ve been keeping so busy that the thought of blogging for 15 minutes and thinking about which news to share for the other 15 minutes, definitely loses to the thought of just vegetating for 30 minutes, checking my facebook, playing words with friends and contemplating how I’m ever going to finish my newsletter with all the stuff going on. 

Lets see:  Last saturday I returned from a 3 week long absence from Davao where I first went to Cotobato City, South Cotobato to attend a Human Rights Safety Training.  While there I was called upon to create and deliver a lecture about digital security, because the original speaker couldn’t make it.  That was pretty cool, I learned a whole lot about digital security but I think I could definitely add on to that presentation, now that I’ve had time to think about what to say and how much we use the virtual world to communicate these days…especially in light of the new Cyber Crime Prevention Act that is going through the Philippine legislature right now (its already out but due to the number of cases filed against it for violated freedom of speech, its been suspended for a while for ‘review’)

My second week was spend in Western Mindanao as I traveled from parish to parish, and diocese to diocese interviewing church priests, pastors and bishops about the situation of human rights and human rights violations for my piece to the report on the status of human rights under Aquino, to be delivered to the United Nations in a couple weeks.  I’m still busy compiling my report for that, although lately it’s on the backburner with a ton of other stuff going on.

My 3rd week was in Cagayan de Oro where I, along with Laura Wise (the new MI) attended the Mindanao School of Peace 2012: Module 2.  The Panalipdan! environmental activist group was having a council meeting at the same time in the same venue and I had been asked by InPeace and Panalipdan! staff to give a lecture on Tailings Dams Failure Models: and the Environmental and Social Impacts of Tailings Dams Failure.  It wasn’t the first time that my geoscience background has been called upon (one of the seriously cool things about working in the Philippines) but it was the first time I gave a lecture to super important people for an hour.  It was difficult to balance the lecture, as even though all of the council members are engaged activists, they all come from different backgrounds, therefore their basic level of geology knowledge varied greatly. Overall I think I did a good job and I look forward to being called upon for similar tasks in the future. 🙂

This week, Laura and I put together a powerpoint for one of the Human Rights defenders visiting the United Nations in Geneva this week, for the primer on the Mindanao Situation.  We had less than 72 hours to put together a super cool powerpoint that will keep the UN human rights council members engaged with the Mindanao rights situation and hopefully encourage them to read our shadow report later.

Next week is the 1 year anniversary of Fr. Pops’ assassination (see archives.)  There is a big event in Kidapawon, high mass, followed by a tribute concert for Fr. Pops.  I have been asked to perform two of the songs featured on the tribute cd released earlier this summer.  As of right now, I don’t know either of the songs, or have them memorized, but hey, what can you do, that’s the life of a geo-missionary rockstar in Mindanao.

This month is UMC Laity month and I have been asked to speak at church on the 28th.  Still trying to decide what to talk about.  I have an idea that’s been bouncing around my head for the past 6 months or so, so maybe I’ll find time to flesh it out….maybe.

The icing on my busy cake, on top of all that’s going on, is GBGM placement paperwork, liquidation of receipts and just general quarterly evaluations, as well as trying to finish my newsletter and keeping up with my blog.  

 

Which hasn’t been really happening.  Except for just now, the 10 minutes before lunch. Speaking of which….

 

…it’s Lunch Time.

 

God Bless my food.