ADVOCATES FOR CHILDEN AND ELDERS
INTERNATIONAL PHILIPPINES, INC.
YOUTH 4 YOUTH PROGRAM
A DOCUMENTATION OF PROCEEDINGS
ACTIVITY: ADVENT RECOLLECTION AND FELLOWSHIP
(One whole day, from 7:00 am to )
VENUE: Third Floor, Center for
Evangelization, Diocese of
(Note: 19 Parents from Paranaque Area attended a simultaneous but separate session at the Chapel, ground floor of the Center)
A total of ten (10) Volunteers,
Area Coordinators included, attended and assisted; two of whom are also
FACILITATORS: Rev. Fr. Lambert Legaspino and Bro. Mel Estores
Part I. ADVENT RECOLLECTION
- Arrival and Registration
- Morning Praise
- Opening/Welcome Remarks
Introduction of Participants
Aim of Recollection and Gathering
8:00- FIRST SESSION -Lecture
and Group Dynamics
- Early Lunch
- Start of SECOND SESSION
Lecture and Sharing
1:30- Prepare for Holy Mass (to Chapel)
- Eucharistic Celebration
3:15- Presentation of Commitment Cross and T-shirts
Acknowledgment of Sponsors
Part II.: CHRISTMAS FELLOWSHIP
Special Presentation by Y4Y members
PART ONE: ADVENT RECOLLECTION
As early as
in the morning, the first batch of kids from
All the Y4Y members were then initially gathered at the front lobby. Six groups were formed with members from the two areas already mixed with each other, in an effort to encourage acquaintanceship and promote camaraderie specially among those who hardly know each other.
The entire group proceeded to the 3rd floor and participants were assigned their places, with 6 members per table. As each one of them was called, their name tags were also distributed accordingly.
The Recollection proper therefore started exactly on time, as stated on the program schedule.
2. MORNING PRAISE:
Through the singing of “Come Holy Spirit”, the opening invocation was led by Virgie. Tess then said a brief Thanksgiving prayer. And upon Virgie’s invitation, two youth members came forward to the front and made their respective prayer-petitions.
Bro. Bobby then said the final prayers. All these prayers sought God’s blessing and enlightenment for all those present particularly the kids who, for the first time, are coming together for a spiritual gathering such as this.
Virgie led the group to simultaneously recite the prayer before meals.
The kids noticeably had their mouths full with a sumptuous serving of two pieces of “langgonisa”, fried egg, a big cup of garlic rice and a glass of hot chocolate.
4. “HOUSE RULES”
Virgie once again took the floor and explained the basic do’s and don’ts relative to the conduct as well as the attitude of our young participants during a Recollection. She stressed among others the need to remain silent and attentive to the Speaker while the session is going on; that they will be given ample time i.e. before every session or after the break, to go to the restroom. She also strongly encouraged the kids to take this opportune time to “join everyone, know everyone”.
5. AIM OF THE GATHERING AND RECOLLECTION
Tess then followed suit by stating the primary reason why this particular activity is important. She emphasized to the youth that we are all on a journey through life and even while young, and moreso while young, there is indeed a need to pause- “mahalagang tumigil muna at makapag-isip kahit sandali”; that this could be just one of the best time to do so; that gatherings of this nature are part of shaping the lives of the youth and preparing them in assuming leadership roles and becoming good examples within their families and respective communities.
At this point, Virgie introduced Bro. Mel Estores as a Seminarian from the San Carlos Seminary who is now graduating and incoming deacon.
A. FIRST SESSION: EXPECTATION- SETTING and UNDERSTANDING THE
MEANING OF RECOLLECTION
1. GETTING TO KNOW (“PAKILANLAN”)
For purposes of enabling each youth attendee to get to know a little about his/her co-attendee, Bro. Mel asked that each member in every group introduce his/herself to his/her co-members on the table, following this format, by stating:
ü Full name
ü Am busy with….
ü I want to be remembered as……
This took about 10 minutes after which Bro. Mel asked two kids to stand up, choose and introduce at least one member of his/her group. This dynamics also aimed to somehow practice the kids on their listening ability and gauge their interest to gain new friends.
2. Summary of Lectures including some Excerpts:
ü We are all on a journey but we cannot travel alone,
hence we need a companion.
ü We are all “collectors”-this, Bro. Mel emphasized as he
cited his own personal experience of collecting chopsticks; but he has also some kind of standard in getting those chopsticks that he would want to be part of his collections. He particularly collected only those that look lovely and special, unique and different from the rest, durable and long lasting. To him, each and every piece of chopsticks has its own story. Every collector is focused on whatever it is that he wants to collect. To that person, the process and art of collecting is very valuable. He/she also knows exactly the reason behind his collections.
ü The word “Recollection” comes from two words: “Re”,
which means again, and “Collect” meaning to gather. In a recollection, we become “collectors”. We gather stories of our own lives specially the good things that happened to us. This is also a time to examine, think, reflect and share different aspects of our lives. This is also a time to enjoy- but with a different kind of enjoyment, because we would be able to see and know more about our own selves, our relationship with our family, friends and God.
The questions posed were: “Kamusta ka na ba? Tanggap mo ba na masaya ka sa sarili mo ngayon? Nag-uusap ba kayo ng pamilya mo? Nakakapagdasal ka pa ba?”
ü We should learn to “STOP” and this has its own
meaning; S- silence; T-trust; O-openness and P-prayers. We should remain silent, i.e., worry less of the things outside of us and our control. To trust is simply to hold on to the Lord and allowing Him to be with us all the time. To be open is to allow our hearts and minds to accept who
we really are, without wearing “masks” or pretensions, after all, even if we open up ourselves in terms of our weaknesses, God will still, and always love and accept us. Openness is speaking out our own feelings and thoughts without fear and stress. Meanwhile, to pray is to communicate with God; to be one with God. Prayer therefore is “pakiki-isa sa Diyos”.
ü More questions were raised: “Saan ka ba pupunta?
Bakit ka duon pupunta? Ano ba ang iyong direksyon sa buhay?” Bro. Mel then specifically stated the real objectives of this Recollection, which are as follows:
a.) To know, accept, understand and appreciate more our own person- as a child, as a son/daughter and as a Christian.
b.) To help us see that each human person is a special gift from God- further realizing that each one is important to God and that as valuable gifts, we are constantly loved and cared for.
ü Bro. Mel then asked each group to list down on a sheet
of paper only three of their expectations of this Recollection. And just to add a little more enjoyment, Bro. Mel gave each group its own Group Name, as follows:
Group I - “Binondo Hopia”
Group II - “Muntinlupa Bilibid”
Group III - “Divisoria Vendors”
Group IV - “Tondo Gang”
Group V - “Quiapo Pirates”
Group VI - “Mandaluyong Mentals”
Group VII - “Bonifacio Putok”
All groups through their assigned leader reported on what they have listed. (Every group’s expectations were also written on the whiteboard.) Almost all groups had similar expectations: to know more about God and understand the purpose of their being.
ü Bro. Mel then mentioned the need for utmost
cooperation- that this Recollection begins from and ends with the participant. In effect, its success largely depends on those attending it. He enjoined the kids to allow the Holy Spirit to move in their lives- “patuluyin natin ang Diyos sa ating isip at kalooban”.
ü It is at this point that the kids were asked to draw
particularly any form of representation or symbol that describes or characterizes their individuality- as their own selves. Each one will have to explain why he chose that particular symbol or object. There were six kids who came to the front and showed their drawings and shared the meaning. Many of them drew a book and a circle which are the expressions of their desire to learn more and have a good future. Bro. Mel asked them to keep their own drawings because each drawing is a life story.
EARLY LUNCH BREAK :
ü Bro. Bobby led the group in the prayer before meals.
The kids were served pork adobo, chopsuey and rice –which, to
some, are more than enough to fill their “small” stomachs.
SECOND SESSION: Lecture on GOD’S PLAN AND
ü After 30 minutes, the session started with a group
dynamics to warm up and keep everyone alert and awake. Bro. Mel and two of the
ü Bro. Mel then read from the Bible, Genesis, Chapter 2,
verses 5 to 17, on the “Creation”. He then conducted an exercise
which he referred to as a guided drawing. The kids were asked to draw on a sheet of paper but with their eyes closed, all heads up and follow his instructions. First, they were asked to draw the contour of a human face; next- the left eye, then the left ear, the right eye and ear, the nose, the lips and the hair. When finally the kids saw their drawings, they all had a big laugh. All the faces drawn turned out to be distorted and ugly images.
ü What then was the realization? Bro. Mel said:
“Nuong ginawa tayo ng Diyos, bukas na bukas ang Kanyang mga mata. Bawa’t detalye ng mukha mo ay nilagay Niya. Mahal ka Niya kaya’t nilikha ka Niya bilang kawangis Niya”.
ü God’s Design: On the first day, there was Light; the
day, He created Heaven and Earth; third day-the waters-separated the seas from
the land; fourth day-the moon and the stars; fifth day- the birds and the
fishes; sixth day, the Human Being and the seventh day, God rested. The human being was the last of God’s
creations because God prepared everything first, all for the sake and benefit
of the human being. God therefore loves
us so much- we are unique and special. “Walang
ü God’s Gifts: There are three major gifts that God has given the human being:
a.) The gift of LIFE- God expects each one of us to love and take care of our own life- our self. We should not do anything that would do us harm. Just like our own collections, our own life should be well taken cared of. After all, we are the highest and most precious of all God’s creations. And since God created us, God also gives us the right direction and meaning to our lives- not the drugs, not even the cigarettes. Nothing should enslave us. We should continually be grateful to God that we are still alive and well!
b.) The gift of a “GARDEN”- the environment, our possessions and the people around us- our family and friends. But we need to reflect on a lot of things: Who are the people who continue to love us? Have we ever reciprocated their good deeds? Have we even thank them? When was the last time you thanked God for all the blessings that you received?
c.) The gift of FREE WILL- God created us much higher in form, in intellect, in appearance, in everything- than the animals or other creatures. We are the only creatures that are given the absolute freedom to choose, to discern and to decide using our own ability, our minds, our talents and our own capabilities. That’s why we don’t have to act like animals do. God loves us so very much that we are allowed to do what pleases us and satisfies us and shapes us. We are, ultimately, the masters of our own destiny.
of our Existence- the
a.) To KNOW- what real Love is- unconditional,
b.) To LOVE- To share this love to others, but first, we
must love ourselves so we are able to truly love others; we should also be able to forgive ourselves in order to learn to forgive others and experience how it is to be forgiven.
c.) To SERVE- Realizing that we are loved, we are able
to do good to others even thru ordinary acts e.g. a warm smile, a greeting of respect, a hug, a tap on the shoulder, a touch, in other words, no matter how small it is as long as, quoting again Bro. Mel “it is ‘serbisyong totoo’ “.
ü Group Work: Each group was then instructed to draw
on a cartolina, their own concept and insights of “Creation” with colors. (Due however to lack of sufficient time, most groups were not able to finish their drawings, as they were asked to go down to the Chapel at exactly ) Before going down however, each one was asked to write a short letter to their parent(s) to be presented to their parents before the Mass starts.
ü Final Lecture: Fr. Lambert’s Homily
Fr. Lambert stressed that preparing for Christmas does not only mean preparing our pockets- with funds to buy gifts, neither our stomachs- to be filled in with luscious food. He strongly reminded everyone that our Lord Jesus Christ left us a promise- His second coming, the exact time and place of which, we do not know. In remembering therefore His birth, we also should remember His second coming. We should at all time be prepared- with our own LIVES- we should be ready when He arrives. But we should not at all be afraid. If we are close to Jesus, we should await Him with our Faith; develop our own vision of what we are expecting to see and experience by counting our blessings. And whenever we receive goodness, we are expected to also do good.
ü Simple ceremony after the Eucharistic Celebration:
Fr. Lambert assisted by Virgie then
presented the Y4Y T-shirt uniform and a wooden commitment cross to each
participant who completed the Recollection. The respective parents were also called to
accompany their children. The parents
also received their T-shirts, one parent only per Y4Y member. However, not all
Certificates of Appreciation were
also presented to BMHI and to its Project Manager, Mr. Gilbert Baltazar who was present with his family during the
PART II. CHRISTMAS FELLOWSHIP:
Everyone then went back to the 3rd floor for the Christmas get-together. Another
ACE IPI Pastoral Worker, Glo Andres acted as
facilitator-emcee and conducted about five games to the enjoyment and delight
of the kids and members. Prizes were also given. The group of BHMI representatives present was
headed by Col. Raymundo delos
Both Kalookan and
from ACE IPI, including some apples and “kiat” oranges were also distributed.
The dinner served consisted of fried chicken and spaghetti. Trining Wong, ACE IPI Treasurer was also around to help out. Obviously, most of the kids had not lost their energies and would not want to go home yet, but they had to, since we are allowed to stay at the Center up to only. The heartwarming prayer by Bro. Bobby fittingly ended the day.
The entire activity turned out to be, both physically, spiritually and even emotionally fulfilling for all the participants. The youth members finally “got out of their shells” and expressed themselves in more ways than one, with confidence, without any fear of rejection. The parents meanwhile gave their almost never-ending “thank-you’s” to the ACE IPI members. Both kids and parents must have had a good night’s sleep knowing fully well that indeed Christ, the Emmanuel is born, and is very much alive…in the hearts of His people.
POST- RECOLLECTION OBSERVATIONS and RECOMMENDATIONS:
During the ACE IPI Assessment Meeting/Pre Planning Session held last 18th of December, the Area Coordinator of Y4Y Paranaque, Myrna Heramis, gladly reported that there were already some pleasant changes in the way the youth behave and treat each other. While in the past, the kids from the Lopez area seem to be aloof and indifferent with those from Napoleon area, and vice-versa, lately they have started really communicating with each other-the younger ones now refer to the older youth as their ‘kuyas” and “ates”. Some members from both groups even decided to jointly attend the daily “Misa de Gallo”. Moreover, some parents seem to have refrained from uttering the usual bad words and
expressions, most probably realizing that they would not gain God’s graces and blessings if they continue to do so.
The conduct of a Youth Camp, symposia on Life Skills and Active Non-Violence and Parents’ Recollection have been strongly suggested as 2009 activities. Also, in the next meetings and formation sessions of Y4Y, more feedback directly from the kids and parents themselves shall be gathered.
Meanwhile, the Kalookan kids wore again their Y4Y t-shirts in the meeting together with their parents last 20th of December- as if reiterating their personal commitment to the Y4Y Program. They and their parents verbalized again their gratitude to ACE IPI. With much enthusiasm, they have all been asking what’s in store for them this coming year.
True enough, these urban poor youth that ACE IPI is presently trying to empower are already starting to reaffirm their desire to understand themselves and their present situation, to try to be good and to do good, believing that this could be some kind of a springboard to a peaceful and successful life. But deep within them, they know that they cannot do this alone. They have yet to learn, to be more equipped and most importantly, they have to be ready to sacrifice. It is still a long way to go but God willing and given the proper and adequate resources, ACE IPI will continue accompanying them in their journey.
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