Memorable Weekend Exposure Activities


On our first Sunday April 26 at EUNTES, we boarded the Zamboanga Export Zone tourist bus and was treated to be a grand tour of Zamboanga City.  Making this journey with Fr. Angel Calvo, CMF, we were generally given a panoramic view of the beauty of Zamboanga and how slowly marginalization encroached in the history of this City of Flowers.  It is a tour that continued to educate us on the history of marginalization of society from the vantage of Zamboanguenos.  It unveiled to us the different players of society that contributes to increasing poverty among common tao.  It brought us to historic places that enriched the culture and history of mission in this first Diocese in Mindanao.DSC06864

      PICT1235Crossing the roads of Sinunic, Pitugo, Talisayan, and Ayala, we were listening to the rich history of the Muslim-Christian communities we pass by.  Then we reached the Zamboanga Export Zone.  It was a visit to the home of this tourist bus we are riding.  The area is generously planted with bougainvilleas that highlight the well built modern structures, offices, communication facilities and residential buildings.  We also had a view of the cozy retiring boat houses, which of course as religious women and clergy men we all could just dream of.   Oh, maybe our lay companions would one day invite us to their retirement boat houses. DSCN3024

Then we went to the SAN RAMON PENAL COLONY that truly touched our missionary hearts.   We saw the numerous prisoners behind layers of barb wires, to whom we could only give a warmth smile of recognition at that moment.  We interacted with minimum risk prisoners who are selling wood carvings and other products produced from this colony.  We could not forget their persistent but friendly trading for a reason.  I guess, most of us bought an item not much because we need it but we know our act would help them and their income will be spent wisely for their personal needs.  Of course, we could not say goodbye to the place without taking pictures with the penal colony and the open sea as background!     DSC06952 On our way to the City Proper or Pueblo, as commonly called here at Zamboanga, we pass significant places, which when taken as one landscape has actually an interweaving implications to the development of Zamboanga then and now.

  • Badjao Evacuees’ Community
  • Yakan Community
  • La Vista Del Mar
  • Ebenezer Bible School
  • Western Mindanao Command Camp
  • Zamboanga Golf Course
  • Contiguous properties of religious institutions and the local diocese

 We also made a quick stop by the landmark that honors Fr. Salvatore, PIME.  While strongly working for peace and dialogue, he was killed by a gunman on his way home.  Yet, his death did not stop the PIME from carrying out mission in Zamboanga, even along the same advocacy that took his life. Then, we found ourselves in the Zamboanga Museum and Fort del Pilar where Fr. Calvo told us the early history of Zamboanga, the significance of the Fort and the Pilar Shrine.  It was truly a history class shared from the heart of a missionary who witnessed the unfolding of a harmonious relationship between Christians and Muslims, until other elements badly influenced it.DSC06933

Finally, we made it to our last stop – the Catholic Church’s Cathedral. It was a self explanatory visit. Yet, I guess most of us wondered and was in awe (a feeling that comes when we visit extravagantly constructed churches).  At times, when we let our social conscience come to a fore, we cannot help but think of the necessity of such a structure.DSC06926

As we get off from the bus at EUNTES, we know the tour has not stopped yet.  Actually, it has just begun.  This trip that opened us to worldly realities will lead us to something more.  This journey of Zamboanga and her streets will continue on the coming days, as we would individually or as a group explore the Reign of God in this city of flowers.IMG_1467


 DSC07203Sunday is always a day of opportunities for the Euntes Participants of Summer Program 2009. Last May 3, 2009, we were privileged to visit the Harmony Village, Silsilah. We were awed by the hospitality shared by the Staff. We were first welcomed by Minda the President of Silsilah who just arrived from the Netherlands. Then, at the Silsilah Hall, Fr. Sebastian, PIME gave us an orientation and proposed tour of the village. After the meeting with Fr. Sebastian, we were brought again by Anne, one of the Staff, to the gym for another sharing by Sr. Marion, RGS and Jo. They shared about their life in Silsilah and what brought them this life. They experienced peace and harmony in all humanity and all creation. Jo as an agriculturist came to realize that she learned from the simple people many things that she never learned in her studies of agriculture in University of Philippines (UP).

Practically, we were brought around the different corners of Harmony Village. Indeed, we too experienced peace and harmony and we were edified by the kind of life that they have in Harmony Village. Finally, we went back to the Silsilah Hall where Fr. Sebastian showed us a film by Marilou Diaz-Abaya, one of the movie directors in the Philippine movie industry. The movie shows the history of Silsilah, the different components of the program, and its advocacy to dialogue and peace for all Muslims, Christians and people of other living faiths. DSC07236

Altogether, it was for all of us another added learning experience that there are such groups of people who are committed to work for dialogue and peace. We are grateful to the kagandahang-loob ng mga Silsilah Staff and Fr. Sebastian, PIME. Indeed the Silsilah Visit is a continuing celebration of the Eucharist.DSC07237

Exposure to the Shelters of Zamboanga

 Sunday, 10th of May:  In an effort to actualize the Eucharist’s invitation “to stay united with Christ and love and serve him in people”, EUNTES participants found their way to two shelters in Zamboanga City:  Akay-Kalinga Center and Pangarap Youth Drop-In Center.  These two centers are under the supervision of Katilingban, an NGO led by Fr. Angel Calvo, CMF. IMG_2021

Akay-Kalinga Center welcomes children of the street yearning for a home experience. It is a two level house that opens its space to anyone who comes for food, shelter, and the opportunity to create a new path of life.  As part of their program, the center offers literacy and skill-training opportunities for children and teenagers. Akay-Kalinga believes in the importance of family, thus, their social workers conduct home visitation to explore possibility of reuniting the child with the parents. At the time of our visit, we were warmly welcomed by the children, the center’s staff and Ms. Loida, who gave us the orientation.  It was also a timely visit as we joined one child in celebrating his birthday!    IMG_2030

Meanwhile at the Pangarap Youth Drop-In Center, we were greeted by youthful smiling faces of young men and women, along with their coordinator Mr. Marvin.  It is a small modest shelter along the road that caters to teenagers who do odd works in the evening, but have been seeking opportunities to reshape their life’s direction.  At Pangarap they experience going home to a place of rest, where food maybe limited but decent and lovingly shared among newly found brothers and sisters.   They are also offered formal education, skills training and possible employment.  If possible, the center also looks into individual cases of abuse.


The whole experience was one best way to spend a warm beautiful Sunday and live our faith in union with a living person (more than faith expressed through recited prayers and confines of churches).  It was a joyful living of the Eucharist. An opportunity to put faces and names to the word Margins, to the very concerns of our Catholic Social Teachings, and encounter Migrants.  It was a possibility to live the values of the Basilea, to dialogue with other faith, and to embrace those abandoned or seeking for home.  IMG_2087

YES!  We made one baby step to cross barriers and allowed ourselves to be evangelized by young men and women, even children, who give life to the words: street children… beggars… parking boys… rugby boys… babaeng kalye… illiterate… deportees… migrants.  In many ways, we differ with one another.  Even in faith expression.  But one thing I felt and firmly believe in:  we all trust that there is God – regardless of how we put name and gender on God.  And in God’s loving embrace, with our seemingly insignificant effort to embrace the other, each one of us will be led to experience home, justice, peace, hope and harmony.  After all, in our own life stories and varying degrees, we all wish to experience God.

The little time we spent to exchange stories with the children and youth is one little act of planting the seed of love and experience The Other.  So, as I end, I recall your faces, children and youth of Akay Kalinga and Pangarap. Thank you for trusting us with your life stories.    You inspire us to share more of ourselves to realize the values of the Basilea and live our faith beyond dogmas, doctrines, rituals, theories, concepts, or memorized /written prayers.  With your stories entwined with our journey, we are renewed for Mission!

Picture with the boys and girls of Akay Kalinga Center
Picture with the boys and girls of Akay Kalinga Center

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: