Posted by: sociopastoral | February 17, 2017

Interfaith Pagadian Observes World Interfaith Harmony Week 2017

The Interfaith Forum For Solidarity and Peace in Pagadian City led the observance of the WORLD INTERFAITH HARMONY WEEK 2017 from February 1 to 7. Series of activities conducted in schools through a Youth Forum to talk on the youth’s role in Peace Building.

Interfaith Prayer for Peace was also conducted by the members of the Interfaith Forum.

Mangrove Tree Planting at the Zambaonga del Sur School of Arts and Trade (ZSSAT), Kawit, Pagadian City (February 7, 2017), participated by Interfaith groups, MRP, Government agencies, Fisherfolks, Teachers and others.

Posted by: sociopastoral | February 10, 2017

UFS distributes relief goods to fire victims

Pagadian City — Ummah Fi Salam began its distribution of relief goods to fire victims of Kampo Islam, Leon-Kilat, San Pedro, Pagadian City last June 12, 2015 to some 100 families. These relief goods were donated by generous individuals of Pagadian City to the UFS.


The group is planning for a second batch of distribution after gathering the donations pledged by other groups.



Posted by: sociopastoral | February 10, 2017

Pagadian Media Members extend help to fire victims

The Zamboanga del Sur-Pagadian City Press Club Inc. and Tabak Division Press Corps conducted a feeding program in Leon Kilat (Purok Campo Islam) of Barangay San Pedro in coordination with the religious leaders in the said community and Ummah Fi Salam last June 13, 2015.




The group, led by ZPPI President Marive Jongco,  distributed around 102 packed meals for the families who chose to stay near the mosque for shelter.

Religious Board President Asbi Husaini expressed joy in the efforts of the media group in checking the situation of the community members in the area and for extending help to the people who are in dire need at the moment.



Posted by: sociopastoral | February 10, 2017

Pagadian celebrates Mindanao Week of Peace 2016


Mindanao Week of Peace Celebration 2016 kicked off with a press conference with the members of the Zamboanga del Sur-PAgadian city Press Club, Inc. last Nov. 23, 2016


Panelists during the Press Conference with PNP Provincial Director PSSupt Sofronio Ecaldre, MWP 2016 Chairperson Brahim Balimbingan Jr and Interfaith Forum Catholic Convenor Rev. Fr. Allan Onden.


Mindanao Week of Peace Celebration 2016 kicked off with a press conference with the members of the Zamboanga del Sur-Pagadian city Press Club, Inc. last Nov. 23, 2016


Part of the MWP 2016 is Candle Lighting activity for the victims of the Maguindanao Massacre last Nov. 23, 2016 with members of the Interfaith Forum, the youth sector, PNP and other cause-oriented groups.


Part of the MWP 2016 is Candle Lighting activity for the victims of the Maguindanao Massacre last Nov. 23, 2016 with members of the Interfaith Forum, the youth sector, PNP and other cause-oriented groups.



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Tree Planting activity conducted last Nov. 24, 2017 at the Ecological Solid Waste Management Eco-Park developed by the City Government of Pagadian attended by the members of the Interfaith Forum, PNP, City Government Employees, teachers from DepEd Pagadian, among many others. The activity was also supported by Pagadian and Zamboanga del Sur LGUs.


Tree Planting activity conducted at the Ecological Solid Waste Management Eco-Park developed by the City Government of Pagadian attended by the members of the Interfaith Forum, PNP, City Government Employees, teachers from DepEd Pagadian, among many others. The activity was also supported by Pagadian and Zamboanga del Sur LGUs.


PNP personnel planting the seedlings.



Peace Forum: Roadmap to Peace was also conducted last Nov. 27, 2016 as part of the MWP 2016 supported by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, CBCS and the Interfaith Forum..


Peace Forum: Roadmap to Peace was also conducted last Nov. 27, 2016 as part of the MWP 2016 supported by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, CBCS and the Interfaith Forum..


Social Action Center – Pagadian Diocese Director Elizabeth Monteza during the Environmental Forum headed by the SAC – Pagadian Diocese conducted at the Diocesan Pastoral Center, Pagadian City last Nov. 28, 2016.


Environmental Forum headed by the Social Action Center – Pagadian Diocese was conducted at the Diocesan Pastoral Center, PAgadian City last Nov. 28, 2016.


Women’s Health Forum conducted at the Bishop’s House in Pagadian City attended by the Interfaith Women as part of the MWP 2016 celebration.



MWP 2016 Chairperson Brahim Balimbingan Jr. sharing the objectives of the Mindanao Week of Peace and the importance of including the campaign against illegal drugs


Interfaith Forum IP Convenor Timuay Joe Macarial opening the Anti-Illigal Drug Forum conducted last Dec. 7, 2016 as part of the MWP 2016 celebration.


Participants who attended the Anti Illegal Drugs Forum from the different schools in Pagadian City.conducted last Dec. 7, 2016 as part of the MWP 2016 celebration.


PNP representative giving lecture on the effects of illegal drugs.


Ummah Fi Salam Community Organizer Amal Fermin during the open forum sharing points on human rights violations during the Dec. 10, 2016 UDHR Day Celebration.


Universal Declaration of Human Rights Day was also celebrated last dec. 10, 2016 as part of the Mindanao Week of Peace 2016 with Bishop Emmanuel Cabajar of the Pagadian Diocese, Commission on Human Rights Pagadian Chief Atty. Kenny Sabellano, members of the Interfaith Forum, students from the different schools, and other cause-oriented groups.


Youth participants of the Interfaith Visual Arts Workshop conducted last Dec. 11, 2016 as a final activity of the Mindanao Week of Peace 2016 Celebration headed by Bishop Emmanuel Cabajar of the Pagadian Diocese and members of the Interfaith Forum.



Bishop Emmanuel Cabajar of the Pagadian Diocese.



Posted by: sociopastoral | February 10, 2017

UFS team joins CHR dialogue on Death Penalty

Ummah Fi Salam team in Pagdian City attended the Commission on Human Rights-led Community-Based Dialogue on Death Penalty last February 9, 2017 @Roxan Hotel, Pagadian City. CHR conducted said event among the stakeholders due to the recent legislative proposal and approval to resurrect the imposition of death penalty. Included in the discussions was the campaign of the different groups against death penalty with its implications. Among the intentions in conducting said activity was to encourage and build constituencies who will campaign against the passage of the death penalty bill.

Posted by: sociopastoral | July 31, 2016

Photo Gallery: Boodle Fight!

Alyansa Tigil Mina staff, Unahin Natin Lagi ang Diyos (UNLAD) members, LGU and communities of Barangay Maya and Pongon in MacArthur, Leyte engage in a Boodle Fight during SPI’s Team Building activity!

Held at Domingo Beach Resort, Brgy. San Pedro, MacArthur, Leyte on July 24, 2016

Typhoon Haiyan “Building Resilient Communities with Stewardship” Project is in partnership with Christian Aid.

Posted by: sociopastoral | July 30, 2016

Triple Communication: A Tool to Build Communities

On July 14, SPI gave a Triple Communication Seminar to the Typhoon Haiyan Project beneficiary partners – Alyansa Tigil Mina and the LGUs of Barangays Maya and Pongon, MacArthur, Leyte.

Triple Communication is a tool that touches 3 levels: organizational, psycho-emotional and motivational. It understands that a person is not just a worker but also a mental, emotional and spiritual being and thus has the need to also communicate from and to these other areas. Once the staff and organization understand the delineation and how to communicate on these different levels the communication process in the workplace becomes much smoother.  This tool also helps prevent or alleviate long-standing misunderstandings and mistrust not just in the workplace but also with other groups carrying opposite agendas. It is also a great help in achieving the organization’s goals.

Even before SPI’s work in Leyte began in January 2015, the above LGUs and NGO could not stand each other because of the differences in their stance on the mining activities in MacArthur. With “Building Resilient Communities with Stewardship Project,” SPI’s intervention was able to bridge the gap and help them find a common ground. One key factor was instilling that each person is a steward of God’s grace. For SPI, the shift in the people’s perspective of who they are – their core identity – is a foundational key to building a disaster-resilient and caring community. When one knows oneself and one’s purpose, the other important matters of relationships, work and mission, goals, dreams and actions all come into alignment.

Getting the LGUs and the organizations and communities to be one in purpose and mind may still be a long way. As for now, from October 2016 to the present, seeing the people see eye to eye, sitting in the same room, playing together in the games as a team, conversing and sharing personal experiences with one another, made the LGU and NGO workers human. Each now sees the other as a living person who experiences similar personal problems and pains, joys and triumphs. Work issues were finally set aside and mutual respect was born and fostered.

When resource person and SPI project coordinator, Florante Galapon, Jr., asked the participants what they learned, the Chair of one barangay faced an ATM staff and spoke, “Kung mayroong ano tayo noon, yung kaunting ano natin noon, iwanan na natin iyan para wala ng… huwag na tayong mag-ano [away]. (Let’s forget whatever tiff we had before. Let us leave that all behind so we will no longer [fight].) At once, the ATM staff approached the Brgy. captain to accept his reconciliation. He put out his hand to give the latter a handshake but the captain proceeded to give him a hug instead and the two men embraced. The whole group, astounded at the unexpected turn of events and in the couple’s act and gesture of forgiveness, immediately got up to its feet and applauded.

DSCF3648 (2)During the seminar evaluation, Brgy. Pongon Secretary Carol shared, “Marami akong natututunan lalo na sa aking pagiging katiwala ng Diyos. Ang seminar na tungkol sa pagsasaayos ng gusot sa barangay – malaki itong karagdagan para maibahagi namin ito sa aming barangay, at marami pang iba. Magaan ang aking pakiramdam sa aking sarili. Ang mga topics na tinalakay ay lahat magagamit namin sa aming pang-araw-araw na gawain sa pamilya at sa aming barangay. Malaki ang aking pasasalamat sa inyong lahat!”

(I learned a lot especially in being a good steward of God. This seminar is big plus to our barangay and many more. It lifted me up. We can use the topics discussed here in our daily lives with our families and our barangay. I am immensely grateful to all of you!)

Naramdaman ko na malaki ang pasasalamat ko na marami akong natutunan sa sakripisyo na ibinahagi ng SPI, kahit sila malayo talagang nagbigay sila ng oras para sa atin, atsaka yung ATM atsaka yung Christian Aid. Malaki itong bahagi para sa aming pamilya at barangay dahil maibabahagi namin lahat ng mga natutunan namin dito. Salamat sa karagdagang kaalaman!”

(I feel so much gratitude for SPI’s sacrifice – traveling from afar and giving time for us – and ATM and Christian Aid because I learned so much. This is a big help for our families and barangay because we can share with them all that we learned here.)

Communication is a two-edged sword, it can either be a messenger of harm or of peace. Knowing good communication tools and applying them correctly can effectively help in promoting the latter.

2016-07-14-triple-com-(22)This project is in partnership with Christian Aid.

Posted by: sociopastoral | July 30, 2016

One Team, One Community

It was a perfect day for team building! Instead of the gloomy skies that covered Leyte the past few days, the heavens joined in the celebration. This joint solidarity activity of SPI’s four beneficiary-partners was the last major event in its Typhoon Haiyan Project for the municipality of MacArthur. Participants from Barangays Pongon and Maya’s communities and local government units (LGUs), UNLAD people’s organization and Alyansa Tigil Mina NGO arrived at Domingo Beach Resort in San Pedro, MacArthur with cheerful anticipation.

The morning of July 24 was spent in an elaborate team building game. The participants were divided into 4 teams evenly composed of all the participating groups that included the young, old, the women and men. The grounds had stations marked by the colored flags of each team and folded instructions were tied to each station. For the game opening, the teams created their own group cheer and were asked questions on who they are (answer: God’s stewards!) and the characteristics of a good steward.

When all the teams finished giving the correct answers, the race began! Each station featured a different game: crossing over a bamboo fence, crawling on the sand under the ropes, sack race, wearing a life vest and getting a ball from a flagpole, and the last challenge was recovering a figurine from the sea by the beach.

Each game had to be done according to instructions, otherwise, the team had to restart that game. The final step to winning the race was having a male and female member bring their team’s flag to Bro. Ped Agripa, SPI’s game master. This was the clincher. One team finished first but instead of a pair holding the flag, only one team member came running to Bro. Ped. The second team to finish saw the mishap, re-read the instructions and chose their team’s pair. Their pair brought their flag forward and their team got to win the game!

It was a fun race and everyone was exhilarated that they wanted more. No worries because the game master came prepared! Bro. Ped pulled out of his hat lead-the-blind and tug-of-war matches that got the teams to further exercise both their physical and mental muscles.


In the afternoon, SPI TY Haiyan project coordinator, Mr. Florante Galapon, Jr. processed the morning activities with the participants. Deepening the experience of the games was discussed from the lens of leadership and stewardship principles, giving the participants knowledge and tools that would nurture and propel themselves and their communities to become better steward-leaders. More importantly, Mr. Galapon enlightened the participants to encounter a paradigm shift. Throughout October 2015 to the present, the communities/groups saw themselves as separate and individual groups, divided because of conflicting advocacies. During the processing, the people came to realize and understan that, as God’s stewards, they are all just one team, one community.

They are MacArthur.

TY Haiyan “Building Resilient Communities with Stewardship” project is in partnership with Christian Aid.

Posted by: sociopastoral | July 11, 2016

Farewell Auring!

Let us pray for the repose of the soul of Sr. Aurora Zambrano, ICM who passed away this morning 7/11/16 from heart failure. We are grateful for her unwavering support to SPI and our mission to help build the Church of the Poor in the Philippines.

Below are pictures of Sr. Aurora Zambrano and SPI Board Members taken last June 16, 2016. May God’s love and peace be with you always Sr. Auring!

Board of Directors' Pic Sr. Auring's Pic

Posted by: sociopastoral | June 29, 2016

Passing the Baton

As SPI wraps up its TY Haiyan Project in MacArthur, Leyte, a Trainers’ Training on Stewardship was held for select beneficiaries on June 19-20 at Caluwayan Beach Resort in Marabut, Samar. This training is to enable beneficiary partners to continue the stewardship work that they started to help the families in their barangays become stewards of theirselves, families, communities and environment.

The participants, together with Alyansa Tigil Mina staff, immersed themselves in the activity’s exercises as they learned to effectively write a training module, speak in front of an audience, and facilitate small groups.

One particular sharing from the public speaking workshop captured the essence of this training. Elvira of Brgy. Liwayway revealed:

“Hindi po ako makatayo sa maraming tao. Itong mic na ito, iniiwasan ko talaga…mamatay talaga ako! Mamatay ako pag nakatayo ako sa harapan. Yung nangyaring Yolanda, para sa akin, may na-ano sa aking kabutihan at pagkakataon na makapunta ako sa iba’t-ibang lugar at makasalamuha po ako ng iba’t-ibang tao. Hindi ko ma-ano ang tagumpay; hindi ko sukat na akalaing mararating ko iyon!”

I was not able to speak in public. I avoided the microphone like it was death itself. I will literally die if I speak in front of people! But Typhoon Haiyan brought out something good. It gave me the self-confidence and opportunities to travel to many places and encounter different kinds of people from all walks of life. I cannot put into words this victorious feeling… I never thought in a million years that I’ll be able to do this!

This is just one of the unforgettable stories the participants shared. SPI’s “Building Resilient Communities with Stewardship” project started on January 15, 2015 and is now in its final quarter of implementation. The psychospiritual processing with the people and their communities helped draw out the potential greatness in each person. There are many cases where people moved past the devastation and despair towards discovering their strength and indomitable character. In some cases, the greater the suffering, the bigger the growth. The leaders of this training will pass on their learning and carry the torch of victory to others still in the dark.

Haiyan may have been one of the worst and most destructive typhoon this world has seen, yet the people of MacArthur has definitely come out stronger.




This project is in partnership with Christian Aid.


I once asked Bp. Julio X. Labayen about his experience as a servant of the Lord. He said,  “When I first surrendered to God, I thought my life would be from happiness to happiness.  But it was not so. To my surprise, God took me to a place filled with pain, struggle and conflict.  I was confused and did not know what to make of it but I soldiered on. It was only much later, that I discovered – again with much surprise – that the place that the Lord brought me to that is filled with hardship and pain is also a place filled with incredible peace and joy. Such is our Lord God, He is full of surprises.”

It is when I remember encounters like that, that I miss Bp. Julio Xavier Labayen the most.  He had this uncanny ability to see through the confusing kaleidoscope of life to hone in on the common ground on which it all stands. Not only that, because Labayen was a great communicator, he could describe that shifting, ineffable, mysterious ground, in a way that even unschooled “kanto boys” and “tambays” could understand.

We are surely all the poorer without such a man in this world.

Anyway, the intention of this piece is not to go for a grand summation of Labayen’s import to the Catholic Church and Philippine Society. I leave that for sociologists, theologians and church historians to ponder. (That narrative, by the way, will surely be about Labayen as the Father of social action and the Church of the Poor in the Philippines.)  No this piece is but a modest account on one of his impact on a small faith inspired organization called Socio-Pastoral Institute or SPI that he shepherded as Chairman of the Board of Directors for several decades.

A sterling mark of a good leader is that they are able to communicate clearly the direction where they want to take the organization. Of course that sounds rudimentary but you’d be surprised how many leaders are unable to do that. Many merely react to the push and shoves of the times, many more lead by the weight and color of their whim and personality. Shameless still, many lead by fear – by repeatedly harping on conjured horrors and nightmares that will consume the group unless they command them.

Labayen was not of that kind at all.

He was a leader who inspired people to seek and strive for “the impossible dream” which he articulated clearly and often. As an aside, people who envied his insight and eloquence mocked him for that and ridiculed him as “parang sirang plaka.” Most people though valued this in him and used his offered directions to set their institutional and personal bearings by.

With SPI, the institutional direction he proffered was “SPI at the service of the Kingdom.”

Allow me to unpack that phrase so we can appreciate how this seemingly simple, innocuous phrase touched and shaped our organization to the bones. It was what guided SPI to become and stay relevant to the Church, the poor and peoples of other cultures and faith.

“SPI at the service of the Kingdom” initially means that SPI does not exist for itself but for its mission.

The organizational and personal implications of this is far reaching. It means that all resources of the institution – the talent of its staff, its material and cultural assets, its network of partners, its deep pool of institutional experience, etc. –  are all for the realization of a new world order marked by peace, justice and integrity of creation. It is good to have a a vehicle, a pleasant office, powerful computers, shelves of knowledge products and so on but they are there not for our personal indulgence. They are there to give power to our mission.

“SPI at the service of the Kingdom” subsequently means SPI’s mission is to help others, especially the poor, realize socio-economic-political-spiritual liberation.

Labayen’s  “impossible dream” exhorted SPI to adopt an integral approach to development work. This meant swimming against the dominant narrative that development is political and economic upliftment period. SPI, prompted by the dream of the Kingdom, believes that genuine development means not only political and economic upliftment but ecological and spiritual growth as well. Fullness of life, after all, means a life filled with economic, political, social, ecological and spiritual blessings. So how can it be realized via political and economic interventions alone?

As a result of this integral viewpoint, we now work with urban poor Moro communities in Pagadian City. We are there to help shape a culture of peace and development in a region torn by war and prejudice. Our interventions there include community organizing characterized by focus on the family, the promotion of khalifa or stewardship spirituality, the building of  a civil society-military dialogue group that tackles city-wide social issues that affect the poor, strengthening the Inter-Faith Council, establishment of community-based development and disaster preparedness programs, maintenance of community infrastructure, helping set up sustainable livelihoods, etc.

SPI is also helping disadvantaged communities and local barangay units in Tacloban and Samar that are severely affected by super typhoon Haiyan. We are there to help them build resilient communities and promote a culture of safety and the spirituality of stewardship. This involves strengthening the organizational capability of our partner NGOs, POs and barangays, conflict mediation,  strengthening of family bonds as well as psycho-spiritual counseling to help victims come to terms with the devastation and tragedy.

We also work with local Catholic Churches. We help them develop their stewardship and BEC programs so that they can become present and relevant to the lives of those condemned to live in the armpits of society.

From the outside looking it, it appears that SPI has no focus. We seem to be running around all over the place. But this is only because we believe that to bring the blessing of the Kingdom to the poor,  we need to expand our horizon of expertise. Poverty, after all, is an enemy with many faces. When the concerns and frontlines are vast, you need a large bag of tricks to keep up.

We need community organizing skills to empower people to speak up to power and claim their rights from government. We need to bring sustainable livelihoods packages so that the poor can address their material lack. We need humility and proficiency in working with peoples of other faiths and none so we do not exclude anyone from the Lord’s banquet.  Most of all, we need competence in dealing with the spiritual poverty of selfishness, egoism, hopelessness, loss of meaning and purpose.

So instead of specializing as a training institute alone, SPI walked into the unknown and threw its hat in the mad world of community development and social change. After all, how can one teach church or community when one’s hands and soul are unsullied from the actual grunt work of helping the poor who are perpetually condemned to walk on hard and dusty ground?

Such is Labayen’s legacy to SPI. He gave us clear direction to where the institution should go. For that reason, I can say that there is no fragment, wedge or sliver of what SPI has modestly achieved that can be carved up and pronounced as untouched by Labayen.

And so we come to the end.

Julio Xavier Labayen is dead but he has lived a full life marked by triumphs and failures, joy and pain, hard struggle and celebrations.  He is gone but his spirit,  his thoughts, words and actions live on and continue to inspire persons, People’s Organizations, Civil Society Organizations and churches he touched.  He is no longer here but he will long be remembered and hailed.

Long live Julio Xavier Labayen!

Posted by: sociopastoral | May 31, 2016

Photo Gallery: Psychospiritual for Haiyan Survivors 2

SPI Psychospiritual Processing for Barangay Maya, MacArthur, Leyte LGU and community

Held at St. Elizabeth Retreat House, Tacloban City on May 16, 2016

DSCF0235 (2)

The TY Haiyan “Building Resilient Communities with Stewardship” project is in partnership with Christian Aid.

Posted by: sociopastoral | May 30, 2016

Photo Gallery: Psychospiritual for Haiyan Survivors

SPI Psychospiritual Processing for Barangay Pongon, MacArthur, Leyte LGU and community

Held at St. Elizabeth Retreat House, Tacloban City on May 14, 2016

DSCF9739 (3)

Typhoon Haiyan “Building Resilient Communities with Stewardship” Project is in partnership with Christian Aid.

Posted by: sociopastoral | February 11, 2016

SOS for Prelature Shrine of St. Joseph

On February 8, 2016, SPI had a “Daupang Palad” encounter with the Spirituality of Stewardship core leaders of the Prelature Shrine of St. Joseph, Polillo, Quezon. The purpose of this encounter was to exchange experiences and insights that could lead to the improvement of the Shrine’s Balik-Handog Program. Balik-Handog, literally translated as “To Give Back,” is the church’s program for the parishioners to share their blessings to the community and to the church, especially the poor.

Resource person, Joey Clemente, devoted the morning session for reflection with 11 of the Balik-Handog core leaders and parish priest, Rev. Fr. Miguel Floro “Olet” Avenilla. The group shared how Balik-Handog and stewardship changed their lives and deepened their relationship with God, the things they are most proud of in their Balik-Handog Program, and the changes they wish to see to improve Balik-Handog.

In the afternoon, the parish bustled with activity as the area coordinators of the 30 puroks in Polillo arrived. The leaders shared the 2015 Balik-Handog financial report. Mr. Clemente deepened the incredible output the parishioners did with an input on SOS principles. The attendees were greatly inspired by the sessions and so the group had a lively discussion during the open forum. The activity culminated with the Shrine celebrating the leaders and coordinators for the hard and fruitful work they have done.


Spirituality of Stewardship is the core program of SPI and is the spirit that animates all its developmental and community based projects.

Posted by: sociopastoral | December 30, 2015

ATM and Community Building

SPI facilitated Alyansa Tigil Mina’s “debriefing” session last Dec. 18, 2015 at the Seasun Resort in Sta. Cruz, Zambales. The session was to help the ATM staff reflect on what meaning and value they find in their work that involves building resilient communities among those profoundly affected by super typhoon Haiyan and campaigns against mining.

As the process started, however, it became clear that the immediate and urgent need of the ATM staff is to address and resolve interpersonal conflicts and tensions that get in the way of their work and community. The session quickly shifted to address this. Thanks to the spirit of openness of the ATM staff, the mediated process was very successful. The session ended with a ritual for reconciliation and a prayer.


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