Friday, August 29, 2008

Mindanao: From My Point of View

Last month has been full of many surprises for the people in Mindanao, particularly in the place where I am currently residing, Iligan City and some towns nearby of Lanao del Norte.

Our Land Mindanao is supposed to be called a Promised Land,a big island of the Philippine archipelago, with vast natural resources, comprising of peoples from different cultures and religion, particularly the Christians, the Muslims and the Lumads. Development is sprouting from various provinces but now and then threat to its peace is constantly made.

Although born in Cagayan de Oro City, I grew up in a far away mountain of Taparak, Alubijid, Misamis Oriental here in Mindanao. I have spent the first 12 years of my childhood in that place. I have enjoyed immensely the vastness of nature within my reach. I have swam the river especially when there's big flood with my playmate cousins defying safety warning of our parents; I have climbed trees, the mountains and most of all I enjoyed the thought of making that place the only world I had known. To me, it was my own, I was part of that nature! Nonetheless, I knew there's a world out there, where proper education and hard work would allow me to explore.

Then in my quest for knowledge, I have to be in places that's not just there in that one small barangay. I have finished my high school education in Cagayan de Oro City where my father used to work. Since my parents could not afford to send me to private universities in Cagayan de Oro City, I grabbed the chance of being a scholar in a state university in Iligan City. Way back then, for us Kagay-anons, Iligan is a dangerous place, especially that it is near to Marawi City, most especially for me because the only time I have visited Iligan was when we attend the funeral of my father's first degree cousin who was killed in the campus of Mindanao State University in Marawi City. Then the next time I came,four years thereafter, was when the father of that killed uncle, the brother of my father's mother, was killed in same university. They were both university professors. My father had many apprehensions in my quest for knowledge in that place. Although I have many relatives in Iligan city, I opted to live in a boarding house near the university.

As a university student living away from home at such a young age, chances of being into wrong company and places are high. But I made a decision to choose the people I interact with. My growing love for God which has started in my childhood has now grown into a desire to a deeper understanding of His will in my life, to a growing effort of knowing Him theologically and more importantly in how to translate this faith in me into an authentic living of a Christ-centered life.

It was in those years that I have come to met many people from all over provinces of Mindanao. We are all away from home, away from our parents, but most of us decided to finish what we came there for, a good education. I had dirscovered and embraced variety of culture, variety of people, intelligent classmates, intellectual professors, good workers, socially-involved people and of course we had the chance to meet and experience the local culture of Iligan people.

During my stay in Iligan City, I cannot help but always include the presence of the person who has made a significant change in my general attitude towards life, towards my faith and towards people. He is a French priest missionary, Fr. Michel de Gigord, whose founding of chaplaincy dedicated to the nurturance of the youth of the university made an impact on many students lives, that includes me. Being a daily communicant, everyday I heard his homily challenging us young people to be good leaders, to dare to make a difference, no matter how trivial our work seem to be. He would often coach us to be passionate about God, about people and to have the courage to make a stand for the truth. His powerful words probably prompted by the Holy Spirit heavily entered into my soul and I made a decision that I shall always love God, always do things for His people, and that no matter how seemingly insignificant I am in a society, carrying God's truth, would guide every decision that I make. These learnings are things I carry wherever I go.

Thus, after finishing two degrees in the state university,I found myself leaving the city as it lacks opportunity of employment for me. I worked in Manila and stayed there for five (5) years. I made every learning I had in a place much more away from home. There a new culture entered into me. But this time, I was bombarded with many questions, of a seemingly wandering life, of no purpose, driven by guilt that I seem to just survive and not truly live. I have met a many beautiful and good friends especially in an orphanage community that I joined into. The experience of reality of how harsh life could be and how one could possibly lead a different life from what you had always believed as the truth was very present. I seemed not to care anymore of the place from whom I have come to know God, I have come to know nature and I have come to know many people I truly care about.

But fate led me back here in Iligan when I married my former closest friend in the college of law, the then first time incumbent Barangay Captain of Kiwalan, Iligan City, Roderico Y. Dumaug,Jr. I had few adjustments on lifestyle, on dealing with people, and most of all the place. There is much difference of Iligan City from Manila. But I made an extra effort to go back again and immerse myself once again in the culture that raised me up. I understood how places influence the way people behave and in viewing life in general. I am no exemption to it.

Day by day, I met people, active people both in politics and in the church. Then little by little I seem to understand why I am back here. This is the place where I am most productive, where I don't spend much of my time in a traffic jam, where I inhale fresh air everyday, where seas are within my reach, where water is cheap, where people are concern of values and relationship , where a lot of people really needs help, where I grow to be truly concern and show love and compassion for each.

But then, the recent thing that happen here in Lanao del Norte and even here in Iligan City created a truly devastating effect on the people's lives. And I have to admit, I too, was disturbed of the occurence. I could not help but feel insulted, trampled upon on my right and truly felt a sense of indignity of the inclusion of 82% of Iligan City territory in the aborted Bangsamoro Juridical Entity(BJE) which was supposed to be signed in Malaysia last August 5, 2008. The ruling of the Supreme Court against the signing prompted the MILF Forces to attack innocent civilians in the towns of Lanao del Norte, beheaded them and leaving women and children in shambles. Military troops arrived seven hours late since the attack occured.

Now and then Senators and Congressmen, Cabinet Secretaries arrived in this city to see the effect of the attack on the people's lives and some various organizations especially the church made an effort to resolve the conflict, trying to do it in God's way. There remains a constant threat from the MILF to take over the city and the municipalities, leaving people unable to do productive works save those who choose to be productive.

However, I have always believed that nothing will ever destroy people who have deep believe in God and by constantly praying for peace. We have no other recourse but to place ourselves in prayer. Now that the feast of the Patron Saint of Iligan is coming, September 29, 2008, people of Iligan are hoping that once again, St. Michael the Archangel, will protect us all! That people from various cultures and faith, may stay in peace once again. And I still really pray that our national leaders and selfless bandits will come and pray in reverence for Love and Peace. May they be truly enlightened and know that God never aspires for our suffering, through relentless killings and violence. And that may they aspire real dialogue, which can only come from a truly peaceful and loving heart, free from desire to power, money and dictatorship.

I stand that those who made those attack against the innocent civilians be brought to justice and until they are surrendered, then harrassment can always occur now and then. Military offensives against their camps are on going and I hope that along the way, no innocent lives would still be included. I pray for our military forces, especially praying for the wisdom of our leaders, enlightenment to our President and may selfish leaders start to be the leader that God would have wanted them to be!

Meanwhile, we can help a lot by praying for Iligan City,in Mindanao and the whole country! Let's continue to believe that Someone Greater than all of Us is up there believing that we'll all come to Him, as He is God and our Creator, regardless of faith or way of life we adhere into.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Volunteerism: Is it still here?

Volunteerism.... What does it mean? They say this spirit is already gone. Has it truly gone. Are volunteers within reach?

For me the spirit of volunteerism is the one that ignited my passion to do things for others. I was truly amazed at my teachers in religion, called the catechists, who would endeavor to teach us things about God and His works, without being paid in return! They were the ones that inspired my young mind, thinking that when I am already at the right age, I will do the same for the next generation. Priests, nuns, missionaries and many others that I met in my growing up years in college and even in my young professional years, all the more enkindled that passion. How I admire them giving up personal ambitions just to teach young minds in preparing for their future.

How I love it surrounded by people who selflessly devouted themselves in service of others. I met many of them when I was still a student leader of Catholic Center Campus Ministry, a Chaplaincy founded by a very dear friend priest, Fr. Michel de Gigord, MEP. I met some of them while I was still in the Singles for Christ; I met them when I was once a catechist in Redemptorist Church in Iligan City; I met them when I was a volunteer of TULOY orphanage in Alabang. Thus, it is no surprise that volunteerism is a quality that moves me into making major decisions in life. It is deeply embedded in my soul.

And I am fortunate enough that even in my stay here in Iligan after my marriage, I got the chance to meet a lot of them getting involved in activities that I got myself into. I also had the chance to meet volunteers of Gawad Kalinga, from Global Exchange, both Filipinos and British nationals, who made themselves available for others and despite their potentials to seek personal vainglory in their young careers, opted to set it aside, by trying to make a difference.

How I truly admire them! And now that I am married, although things in my life have changed, it was quite a refreshing experience for me having the chance to speak with two British volunteers, all women at that, about their views in life. Plus the fact that last August 10, five of us all females made it as the first female team to join in the boat rowing competition using only bare hands in the Kilawan Festival in Kiwalan. Well, unfortunately it was our first time to practice when we are already on the actual competition. And good for me, I managed to fill the boat with waters, that made the boat sink. It was hilarious! But I truly,truly enjoyed it! I have missed a lot of true volunteers! And whenever I got the chance to meet them, I would certainly know who they are. They are people who transcends their culture. They are people who are oblivious to the world because they think that no matter how seemingly trivial their tasks are, they know they make a difference. They are people despite the absence of adulation and applause are willing to traverse the difficulty they encounter as a consequence of their decisions. They are people who amidst differences with people they work with continue to finish the goal. They are people who wants to accomplish the end but an inner peace and joy is likewise achieved.

Perhaps you too have the same aspirations at heart. And whether you have joined in an organization of volunteers or not, it doesnt matter for as long as you do things for others even of others do not recognize them, then you are already a volunteer! Find that volunteer in you! God made us all volunteers in various ways: for our spouse, for our family, for our friends, for our love ones and for various communities!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

An Interesting Book on Personality!

It's been such a long time since I got a time to pick up a book and read it cover to cover, until a week ago and its refreshing to be transported back again to new learning.

Well, its not that the concepts are totally new to me since I am a graduate of BS Psychology, somehow many terms have been familiar to me especially the discipline and the field itself.

What interest me about this book is perhaps its relevance to my present status in life as a married person. Since the time I got married, I have been preoccupied with many peculiar adjustments about myself to the point that reading seems the last priority. After long years of continuous study, my mind seemed to explode in many things that I learn and I find emptiness if I am unable to apply them in practical situations of life. And so when I finally got the chance to take hold and read a book, I felt refreshed. And I am seeing it from the point of view of a married woman.

The book I am talking about is the "Personality Plus" written by Florence Littauer. In the book she discusses four basic types of personality. Although I have encountered more types in other psychological theories, I find her description simple and easy to remember.

Before I read the book, I took the Personality Profile Test related to it. Thus, prior to reading it thoroughly, I have already identified what type of personality I got. Somehow the results truly show basic characters of me. I got the combination of the two types. What inspires me more as I read through it is the fact that the author who is a woman, has the same combination of personality type that I got and the man she married is possessed with the same personality combination that my husband got. So I can truly relate to her experience.

She pointed out that the four basic types of personality are the following: Popular Sanguine, Perfect Melancholic, Powerful Choleric and Peaceful Phlegmatic. Each of these personality types has its own strengths and weaknesses and although she discusses only four types, she recognizes that at any rate, each individual remains unique, only that he has certain inclination and methods of understanding the world around him.

Popular Sanguine are extrovert, talker and optimist. They have appealing personality, life of the party, sincere at heart, always a child, cheerful and bubbling over, wide-eyed and innocent, physically holds on to listener, good sense of humor, good on stage, changeable disposition, lives in the present. These are basic emotions of a popular Sanguine. At work, a popular sanguine volunteers for jobs, thinks up new activities, looks great on the surface, creative and colorful, has energy and enthusiasm, inspires other to join, charms others to work and starts in a flashy way. As a friend a popular sanguine makes friend easily, loves people, thrives on compliments, seems exciting, envied by others, doesnt hold grudges, apologizes quickly, prevents dull moments and like spontaneous activities. These are basic strengths of a Popular Sanguine.

Then Littauer also described the second type of personality, the Perfect Melancholic.Emotionally, Perfect Melancholic are deep and thoughtful, analytical, serious and purposeful, genius prone, talented and creative, artistic, philosophical and poetic, appreciative of beauty, sensitive to others, self-sacrificing, conscientious and idealistic. At work, a Perfect Melancholic is schedule-oriented, perfectionist, high standard, detail conscious, persistent and thorough, orderly and organized, neat and tidy, economical, sees the problems, finds creative solutions, needs to finish what is started and likes chart, graphs,figures,lists. As a friend, a Perfect Melancholy makes friend cautiously, content to stay in the background, avoids causing attention, faithful and devoted, will listen to complaints, can solve other's problems, deep concern for other people, seeks ideal mate and moved to tears with compassion.

The third type as Littauer discussed is the Powerful Choleric. On emotion, he is born leader, dynamic and active, compulsive need for change,must correct wrongs, strong willed and decisive, unemotional, not easily discouraged, independent and self-sufficient, exudes confidence and can run anything. At work, a Powerful Choleric is goal oriented, sees the whole picture, organizes well, seeks practical solutions, moves quickly to action, delegates work, insists on production, makes the goal, stimulates activity and thrives on opposition. He has little need for friends, will work for group activity, will lead and organize, is usually right and excels in emergencies.

The last type is the Peaceful Phlegmatic. The Peaceful Phlegmatic are introvert. They are low-key personality, easygoing and relaxed, calm, cool and collected, patient, well balanced, consistent life, quite but witty, sympathetic and kind, keeps emotion hidden, happily reconciled to life and all purpose person. As a worker, he is competent and steady, peaceful and agreeable, has adminsitrative abilit, mediates problems, avoids conflicts, good under pressure, finds the easy way. And as a friend, Peaceful Phlegmatic is easy to get along with, pleasant and enjoyable, inoffensive, good listener, dry sense of humor, enjoys watching people, has many friends and has compassion and concern.

Those are just the basics of each personlity type. If you are able to read the book in its entirety, you will see how we can improve and complement in each other. After reading it, one will realize that God after all created us with our own strengths and weaknesses. We are indeed unique. All of us has something to give and must be willing to receive.

And if you are to know how did I score in the self-examination test: I scored in almost same figures of a Popular Sanguine and a Powerful Choleric. And I suppose that my husband is a Melancholic and a Powerful Choleric. You can only imagine how both of us struggled in our marriage. I would like to achieve in things but I want to do it in a fun way, not serious. But my husband would also like to accomplish things but he does it very seriously. And since we both want are ways done, we ended up imposing on each other what we think is the best approach.

When I was done reading the book, it somehow enlightened me. And instead of suffering for my husband's melancholic character, I try to understand that its how he is made by God. In that fashion, I would be able to minimize the duel in our household. (By the way, he is starting to read the book now. I am hopeful it would help him understand my nature too. :-)

In all these, I have come to realize that truly all of us is essential for each other. Sometimes, we find it hard to understand our own brothers or sisters or mother or parents or siblings or children or friends, relatives, people in the communtity we got ourselves involved into but if we also take a look at their basic profile, we shall also unburden ourselves for the pain they have caused in us which in truth and in fact, they do not mean to cause. It is just their nature.

And indeed the journey to personality improvement is a constant effort and having read such a book at this point in my life, have greatly aided me.

But then again, we must always connect all this to One Who made us. Human understanding is a mere tool. Understanding God Himself and listening to Him remains to be the solid foundation as to how we look at other people and how we understand ourselves.