Philippines: Be the Bridge11 August 2013
The Week for a United World held at the beginning of last May in Manila and in other city centres was filled with activities of solidarity and sharing that were the result of years of painstaking effort.
“At the same time that United World Week was being celebrated in Jerusalem, we also held a few activities here in Manila” say the Youth for a United World in the Philippines. The internet link-up with the Holy Land launched that particular week was full of events.
Ten projects dubbed “fragments of universal brotherhood” were presented last May 4, involving Manila, Baguio and other Philippine cities.
The week began with a celebration of unity, called “Be the bridge!” Everyone, linked up with Jerusalem and with the Youth for a United World from other Philippine cities, then set out to help in various projects around the city: from nutrition programs to environmental projects, from hospital visits to projects in favour of the less fortunate. 379 young people from Manila alone signed up.
They went to Sulyap ng Pag-asa, a residential centre served by the Focolare in the crowded and deprived areas of Quezon City. The Youth for a United World offer nutritional assistance there on a regular basis.
At hospitals connected with Sinag – an organization of hospital volunteers – the youths wanted to respond to the invitation of Jesus to love the poorest, and they discovered that by spending their time with patients, their own problems seemed so small in comparison.
Another activity took place in Boys Town, a home for hundreds of street children, run by the Department of Social Welfare. There they met children between the ages of 8 and 17. They spent time caring for them, as well as singing and dancing together. Then the Youth for a United World were also invited to share their secret, “the art of loving.” The children in turn performed some of their own songs and dances.
Another centre they visit often is the Munting Tahanan ng Nazareth. It is a centre for the physically and mentally challenged. One Youth for a United World explained: “With our visits, we wanted to share God’s love present in all of our hearts, no matter who we are.”
Then another centre in Marillac Hills, where young women who have been victims of abuse live, and where, already for some time, young women of the Focolare have been going to visit. Because of the trust that has been built, the centre also allowed some young men to take part in the activity.
During the week, the youths also participated in on-going projects in paring meals to basketball matches involving 55 children. Other activities included an ecological project to clean up Pagudpud, a popular tourist destination in the north.
In Fazenda Farm U-Day in Masbate, people were invited to come with their friends for a few hours of music, as well as a sharing of experiences on how to live and promote brotherhood.
At end of the week, these young people met again for a day entitled, “Bridge 2.0, a project for unity.” It was the moment to make a commitment for the future. By adding their signatures to a large bulletin board, each one then committed themselves to be a bridge for a united world.
The Filipino Youth for a United World underscored some words from Focolare president Maria Voce when she addressed youths gathered in Loppiano, Italy, last May 1st: “Once you’ve built a bridge, if no one walks over it, it’s useless. The purpose of a bridge is to unite. It’s there inviting you to cross it and meet others. Don’t become weary. The bridge is there for this reason.
Taking the first step means turning toward the young people around you, those next to you, saying or showing them that you are ready to do something for them, and with them.”