July 29th marked the third event in a series of annual celebrations of the Jesuit legacy. In commemoration of the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Xavier School Faculty and Staff, spearheaded by the IGNITE Office, hosted SINAG at the Fr. Rafael Cortina Sports Center. The event sought to shed light on the Philippine Jesuits and their continuous effort towards the improvement of our society and country.
Fr. Emmanuel ‘Nono’ Alfonso, head of Jesuit Communications or JESCOM in the Philippines, opened the event by presenting the audience with a scope of the local areas where Jesuits have helped out, including how their organizations brought hope through prayer to various impoverished villages and hospitals around the country. He recogized the ability of the Jesuits to adapt their teachings and actions in order to deal with the most pressing issues of the modern era.
The event continued as the audience was introduced to 17 different booths dedicated to various Jesuit programs and organizations:
- Jesuit Indigenous Peoples’ Ministry & Bukidnon Mission District
- Center for Family Ministries (CEFAM)
- Mary the Queen Parish (MTQ) & Jesuit Chinese Filipino Apostolate (JCFA)
- Philippine General Hospital Chaplaincy (PGH)
- Ugnayan at Tulong sa Maralitang Pamilya Foundation (UGAT)
- Jesuit Communications Foundation (JESCOM) & Jesuit Music Ministry (JMM)
- Institute of Social Order (ISO)
- Institute of Environmental Science for Social Change (ESSC)
- Jesuit Volunteers Philippines Foundation, Inc. (JVPI)
- Philippine Jesuit Prison Service (PJPS)
- Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan (SLB)
- Adoracion Nocturna Filipina
- Apostleship of Prayer
- Eucharistic Youth Movement
- Christian Life Communities of the Philippines (CLCP)
- Fr. Pierre Tritz Institute – ERDA Tech (FPTI-ERDA)
- Manila Observatory (MO)
The most well known of these was ERDA Tech – a technical-vocational school which provides thousands of underprivileged Filipinos a means of education that can immediately translate to a job. However, other organizations, despite their importance, were a surprise to the audience due their relative obscurity. An example of this would be the Simbahang Lingkod Bayan (SLB), an organization that seeks to educate Filipino voters in Philippine politics, allowing them to perform their duties as citizens effectively.
Another successful organization present at the venue was the Philippine Jesuit Prison Service (PJPS), whose aim is to aid with the reformation and spiritual education of inmates in Philippine prisons. While providing emotional support through visits to inmates within prisons, the organization also helps inmates economically by providing scholarships to their children, counteracting the loss of income that comes from being imprisoned. In line with the principles of discernment and Magis, these Jesuit organizations found sectors of society that were in dire need of aid and made the choice to extend their assistance.
Aside from the booths and exhibits, some of the ministries held 30-minute breakout sessions for faculty and staff interested to learn more about them. Some of the topics included: The Eucharist in Ignatian Spirituality, Lay Spirituality for Educators, Philippine Political Culture: Nuances and Challenges, Finding God Finding You (wherein the session was held in Mandarin), Digital Communication: Netiquettes and Responsibilities, and Coastal Resource Management: ISO’s Experience.
Towards the end of the day, some members of the community showcased their talents during the program. Fr. Henry Ponce, SJ sang an original composition of a Bilibid inmate. Ms. KC Lawengco, Mr. Paolo Suapengco, and Mr. Palan Reyes (on keyboards) also rendered a few songs. Finally, Dance X and Dance ‘Chers presented two dance numbers.
These organizations gave all those present a glimpse into the world of service, allowing attendees to see that the Jesuits truly cared about the struggle of the less fortunate. Because of the event, those present learned to keep the tradition of Jesuit awareness alive through service in their own distinct ways.