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Resurrection and Social Work

Resurrection has been considered the cornerstone of Christian faith. Inexhaustible commentaries have been done about its relevance to our lives with particular emphasis on respective areas or angles.

Two years ago, while still in the process of resolving the ambivalence in my life’s experiences brought about by critical health condition partly because of my voluntary work, I poured out my thoughts and emotion on blogs to fight depression. In one of my blogs, I viewed resurrection through the eyes of volunteerism. I want to share the following article that was first published as Resurrection: A pay back? on PADAYON: Our Life Journey and Ezine Articles. I changed the title to Resurrection and Social Work in my belief that Social Work is more than a profession. It is a vocation which is akin to volunteerism.

Let me propose this angle in addition to the unlimited significance of the resurrection of Jesus. Viewing resurrection as a reward to the greatest volunteer the world ever had. A precedence that may inspire millions of nameless volunteers worldwide. No matter how unsolicited this inspirational piece appears to some, though. Others may dislike this proposal. Volunteers will even protest the title. But certainly majority will agree with the claim that Jesus is the greatest volunteer. So, let’s start from this commonality and settle the differences later in this article.

Biblical writers have various description of the voluntary act of Jesus. But I like the Pauline version in Philippians 2:5-8 (NIV): “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!”

The Gospel records instances when Jesus insists on undergoing the voluntary process despite the supposed favor from people who know him as the messiah. When John the Baptist appears reluctant to perform the baptism ritual, Jesus prevails on him: “Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matthew 4:14-15)

Many times, Jesus rebukes his disciples in their actuations to seek redress to injustice and discrimination against his dignity. Unwelcome in his attempt to bridge the gap between warring cultures, he suffers discrimination in one Samaritan village. When James and John insinuate punishment to the humiliating experience, Jesus forbids them. (Luke 9:51-55). Jesus calmly tells Peter to hold peace, in the latter’s attempt to fight back against the savagery of his captors: “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53)

He washes his disciple’s feet at the height of leadership struggle position during the last supper. The lobbying of both John and James and their mother for position in the kingdom might have sparked the internal conflict. Hence, nobody appears willing to do the menial t ask which earlier they enjoy taking turns. Jesus volunteers.

Jesus consistently exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism in his lifestyle and teachings. He voluntarily follows all the requirements of the law, although in some instances, he deliberately skirt man -made unreasonable insertion and imposition to the requirements of God. He successfully passes the final challenge in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Those interested to join the National Volunteers Summit may visit this link

Those are interested to join the National Volunteers Summit may visit this link

Subsequently, the divine justice expedites the awarding ceremony for the greatest volunteer in the world. St. Paul beautifully uses this clincher to the narrative of Jesus voluntary act: “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:10-11)

I am not advocating pay back mentality. Jesus even issues a strange rebuke to the perpetrators and perpetuators of this kind of mentality in Luke 14:12- 14. “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Social Work students of Central Philippine University pose for posterity after the forum on volunteerism sponsored by the Department of Social and Iloilo Coalition of NGOs and POs (ICON). An umbrella network of volunteers and development advocates, ICON allocates a day for volunteerism endeavors in the week-long celebration of NGO- PO Week in Iloilo.

Certainly, volunteers do not expect rewards. The last parable in the Gospel of Matthew (25:31-46) confirms this with the scenario of great surprises. In the final end, during the awarding ceremony, as the chaff is separated from the grain, sheep and goat divided, the result is beyond expectation. But volunteers receive their awards.

True, volunteers do not expect awards. But who can question God’s divine justice to recompense the faithful? Is there something wrong in viewing resurrection as a payback for volunteerism?



How appreciative Inquiry works in the Department of Social work

Inspired by the outcome of the Strategic Plan in the Convention Baptist Ministers Association, I tried to replicate the experience in the Department of Social Work, Central Philippine University. I was still the chairman of the Department at that time. Doing similar process, involving students, faculty and alumni we have formulated the vision-mission of the Department and subsequent thrusts.

Using the guide questions, as it were, we started the first activity of the 4-D cycle, i.e. Discover. Sharing what we perceived as best practices and positive experiences, we also specified what we valued most in the organization. Then, we proceeded to the next step – Dreams for the association in coming three to five years. From the product of the first two stages, we were led to the next step. i.e. Design. Here, we spent some time in consolidating our answers into provocative statements. In each stage, answers were written in Meta cards, posted on the board and clustered later after discussion.

We situated the vision-mission statement in the context of the new international definition of Social Work and the strategic plan of the University. The statement was a product of tedious but participatory process involving faculty, students, alumni of the Department.

VISION: A Balanced Education founded on person’s worth and dignity enhancing the total well-being towards Self actualization and Transformation of society (BEST)

MISSION : To carry out a program characterized by Spirituality and Excellence which enhances Relationship and Volunteerism towards Integrated development through Collective and Experiential learning (SERVICE)

The following are agreed thrusts:
VOCATION: A Department that exemplifies the Christian Spirituality in the context of Asian and Pilipino culture with faculty and staff serving as models.

PROFESSIONAL GROWTH: Highly qualified faculty members, with at least MSW degree, constantly working at improving their craft and able to draw the best in students to effectively and efficiently interact with the changing environment

: Center of academic excellence in Visayas with multi-oriented courses that are responsive to a changing society with strong research foundation and documentation-publication services on experiential learning.

HUMAN DIGNITY: Center of advocacy and alternative development programs and services for the enhancement of human worth and dignity making people value their humanity and thereby contributing towards building a better world.

POSITIVE RELATIONSHIP: A community which fosters positive and enabling relationship between and among students, faculty and staff resulting to a productive development endeavors.

INSTITUTIONAL GROWTH: Increase in number of students representing all strata of society with strong conviction for excellence and commitment in holistic development as professional social workers.

Unfortunately, I was not able to supervise the implementation of the last stage i.e. Deliver like that of the CBMA. Exigencies of service compelled me to serve as director of the University Outreach Center. However, I brought the same process in the outreach program and again spearheaded the Strategic Plan. In resuming my previous position, brought about by the leave of absence of my successor, I have the opportunity to refresh the academic community with our endeavors and continue the stage which I missed earlier in the strategic plan courtesy of the appreciative Inquiry.

Social Workers: No time for celebration?

It’s Social Work Week in the Philippines. The celebration commemorates the anniversary of the Republic Act 4373, otherwise known as the Social Work Law. The passage of the Social Work Law on June 19, 1965 has regulated the practice of social work and the operation of social welfare agencies in the Philippines. Subsequently, it has created a new interest in social work and in the field of social welfare. Incidentally, the date falls on the birthday of the Philippine national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal.

After the forum on “Social Work and the Current Social Protection Concerns and Demands” to culminate the celebration of the 7th Social Work Week in Iloilo, I cannot help but reflect on the past celebrations. Locally, this year’s activities pale in comparison to the first 5 years of celebration. In the national level, there appears to be a lull.

Going over my memoirs, courtesy of yahoo, I found some highlights in the exchanges of communication thru web. Paragraphs in italics are excerpts from messages on the paswi_national@yahoo groups.com. Details can be viewed by clicking the link. The chronology of events started with the backgrounder of the position paper submitted to the national body during the Chapter Presidents Assembly on July 29, 2005

Some weeks after the National Convention of PASWI and NASWEI in Baguio City and Zamboanga City, respectively, a series of joint meetings and regional consultations were held in Iloilo City for updating especially for those who were not able to attend the two conventions. In a particular meeting, the paradigm shift on policy advocacy was given emphasis which led participants (mostly NASWEI member schools) to exhaustively look for ways and means in pooling resources to deliberately and systematically promote the Social Work profession and its significant role in effecting social transformation. In the process, we found out that this year is the 40th year of the Social Work Law. So, we thought of making the occasion a good opportunity to unite in promoting our profession.

With such discovery, we were very excited to think of activities to maximize the celebration. We thought of coming up with a resolution requesting President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to declare June 13-19 as Social Work Week in Western Visayas, as it will be within our area of influence. It gained strong support from other social work-led organizations and alliances in the region, as well as government officials and NGO leaders in the Regional Development Council. However, the Regional Development Council, which endorsed our resolution, opted for the national declaration as the Social Work Law is national in scope. Hence, the declaration should benefit other provinces in various regions.

Getting the clue from people in the authority, we informed both the PASWI and NASWEI National board through e-mail of this discovery and subsequent move to solicit support either thru endorsement of the resolution or making a national resolution related to the regional resolution. (For the PASWI, my first communication was sent to the Chairman of the Board as early as 2nd week of March, copy furnished to other members latter. Eventually, I communicated with the National President). We also ask for the support of DSWD Secretary. After some follow up, we were informed that the Office of the President has forwarded the request to the DSWD Central Office for comment. Consequently, the Execom acted favorably on the resolution and waited for the endorsement from PASWI National leadership. Last April 7, the national board decided to endorse the resolution only to retract it later.

The following issues were raised by the PASWI National Board when it flip flops in its endorsement of the Social Work Week: lack of knowledge of the Board regarding the DSWD-PASWI 2003 pending request to change the November Social Welfare Week to Social Welfare and Development Month; the perceived confusion that may come up in the future should Social Work Week be declared in June; and the absence of proper protocol. These were resolved later and PASWI National called for the national celebration sans former PGMA declaration.

In 2006, PASWI continued the celebration with the following call from the national president.

In 2007, the new president reiterated the organization’s commitment for the celebration. However, due to election time and advocacy for the Magna Carta for Public Social Workers, the celebration was not given much focus.

Excerpts from the memorandum of the PASWI President highlights the 2009 celebration with the conduct of the Philippine World Social Work Day.

However,there appears to be a lull in the national celebration for 2010-2011. This is not necessarily due to the lack of interest on the part of social workers. For social workers are always in the forefront of national welfare celebrations for respective sectors they serve. Is it because social workers spend so much time in serving others, that they do not have time left for celebration?

If so, there is a need for support system to bridge the gap. Our experience for the past seven years of celebration show the significant role of social workers in the academe. As mentioned earlier, the move was initiated by social workers in the academe, particularly member schools of the National Association for Social Work Education, Inc. (NASWEI) in Western Visayas. Since then, the local and regional celebrations have been spearheaded by social work educators. Perhaps because they have more time to spare than direct practitioners in various settings. Speaking of social work education, I find the following links interesting: Guide to Online Schools for online degree in social work classes and courses towards an online social work degree

Jesus the Christ:Model of Spirituality and Volunteerism

Article first published as Jesus the Christ: Model of Spirituality and Volunteerism on Blogcritics.

Contrary to the popular belief, Jesus never introduced religion but a model of relationship. It is summed up in the greatest commandment: Love God and fellow human as one’s self.

This vertical and horizontal relationship is the essence of Lord’s Prayer. The first part pertains to relationship with divine while the last, with humanity. “Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven”. The use of plural words in the prayer – our, we, us– reveals the inclusiveness of Jesus in relationship.

Obviously, Jesus advocates spirituality, not religion. For religion promotes belief in various forms including rituals, dogmas, and creeds. Spirituality, on the other hand, espouses relationship of human person to something or someone who transcends themselves. This type of spirituality has twofold dimensions – personal and social or communal.

Similarly, Jesus has never skipped the voluntary process despite the supposed favor from people who know his real status. He prevails on John the Baptist when the latter appears reluctant to perform the required ritual. Jesus even rebukes disciples in their vindictive actuation against discriminatory treatments. Humiliated in an attempt to bridge the gap between warring cultures in one Samaritan village, he rules out retaliation as insinuated by James and John. He calmly tells Peter to hold peace, when fighting back against the savagery of his captors. Despite having in his disposal legions of angels to protect when needed.

Jesus washes the disciple’s feet at the height of leadership struggle during the last supper. The lobbying of both John and James and their mother for position in the kingdom might have sparked the internal conflict. Hence, nobody appears willing to do the menial task which earlier they enjoy taking turns. Jesus volunteers.

Jesus consistently exemplifies spirituality and volunteerism in his lifestyle and teachings, even in death. He voluntarily follows all the requirements of the law, although he deliberately skirts man -made unreasonable insertion and imposition to the requirements of God. He successfully passes the final challenge in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the way to the cross.

There, Jesus affirms his willingness to sacrifice, wrestling with his humanity vis-a-vis the divine mandate. As recorded in the gospel, the scene in the garden portrays the last struggle. Jesus pours out his innermost thoughts and feelings. Reviewing the justice requirements and redemption scheme, he attempts to argue for other alternatives apart from the cup of suffering and death

No wonder, the divine justice expedites resurrection as award for the greatest volunteer in the world. Had his professed adherents religiously follow suit, the world could have been a better place to live in.

The Unlimited Christ

The Christendom has capped its Lenten observance last Sunday with a bang- the Resurrection! But the perennial bias on Passion and Death is glaring. As it were, little emphasis is given to the resurrection which is supposedly the cornerstone of faith. The passion, and subsequent death of Jesus, has been misconstrued as the key to salvation and living. Apart from Christmas, it is the most celebrated event in Christianity. No wonder, days after the celebration believers appear to go back to Passion scenario in their living. The power of the resurrected Christ has not engulfed the lifestyle of many followers. Indeed, the vestiges of the colonial past with the embedment of the virtue of suffering in the psyche of the people.

It should be emphasized that the cross is only part of the womb- to- the- tomb painful experiences of Jesus. The passion and death is the culmination of all his sufferings. Hence, the old rugged cross is not the only thing we must cherish and exchange someday with a crown. Our salvation is not the product of the suffering of Jesus just on the cross. It is the totality of the life of Jesus, exemplifying the love of God for humanity, capped by the resurrection.

From conception, he has already foretaste the cruel world system. The intrigues his earthly family encounters due to the controversial pregnancy prior to marriage. At birth, he has been exposed to vulnerable condition of the poorest of the poor, being born in a manager. His childhood experience is colored with the uncertain life of refugees to escape the persecution. Likewise, he has to adjust to the internal struggle in family relationship, as well as the immediate social environment as he keeps up the ideal living, even going against the norms.

Prior to his public ministry, he has to undergo the process of immersion. Living in a depressed community, he has seen the hypocrisy of leaders in the socio-cultural, economic and political structures. Their wanton disregard of the avowed mission to serve the people as ordained by God. How corruption and abuse of power has encroached the ideal immunity of the religious establishment. How religion has been used for business and profit. Yes, he has witness how leaders enrich themselves at the expense of the people they are supposed to develop.

Jesus also knows the struggle of well meaning people in the government and other sectors including revolutionary forces in effecting change. Their two pronged vulnerabilities- stereotype from victims and antagonism from the mainstream perpetrators. Aware of their conviction, he includes some of them in the core of his disciples, mainly composed of representatives from the basic masses.

It is in this context that our observance of religious events or even public holiday should be done in the totality of the life of the honoree. It’s unfortunate that Christians have become selective in remembering the life of Jesus. The other aspects of Jesus life are seemingly neglected, especially his manhood. Some sociologists and theologians view this as manifestation of cultural distortion or vested interests. We love to think of the baby Jesus and Crucified Christ. Their images evoke compassion. More importantly, less threatening as they reflect innocence and helplessness. But we are uncomfortable of the adult Jesus who confronts everyone without fear or favor, even turning the tables of those who make business out of religion. It seems, we want to evade the Jesus who challenges us to follow his example in service.

As one clergy observes, almost all church members can easily recite John 3:16. Indeed, it is comforting to know that God loves us so much to the extent of giving His only Son for us. But many do not know what is 1 John 3:16. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

Many Christians limit themselves to be mere recipients of the love of God. No wonder they fail to experience the power of the Resurrected Christ. The unlimited power which sustains the faithful followers who dare to follow his model of service at all costs.



The spirit of EDSA lives on! (last of the series)

Its cathartic power continues to provide relief and refreshes hope. The over arching and encompassing spirit cannot and will never be domesticated. Its mystery remains unspoiled, not completely unfold. Mystery remains unspoiled, not completely unfold.

Twenty five years after, the mystery of EDSA has not been fully unfold. Analysts from various socio-political persuasions attempted to explain the event. Some had to come up with new concepts as EDSA Revolution departed from any of the standard categories. While new testimonies from living participants came out every year, they just shed light to understand the pattern of events and contributing factors. But the mystery still remains. EDSA bloodless Revolution defied logic..

For how can one explains this phenomenon: “When guns and tanks of a dictator melted before the flowers held out by priests and nuns, by millionaires’ sons and squatters’ daughters, by ordinary men and women and by young and old alike; when… a new day was ushered in by ordinary Filipino common tao who rose to heroic heights that won the admiration of the whole world…” The quoted description was that of Jorge Lorredo, Jr. in his article “Four Days that changed History” published in Bulletin Today exactly 25 years ago, as cited by Douglas J. Elwood in his book, Philippine Revolution 1986.

Incidentally, I saw the book few days ago while cleaning my shelve. It was given as graduation gift from the College of Theology, Central Philippine University in March 1990. I was supposed to graduate in 1984 but decide to stop schooling to work fulltime in people’s struggle. Visit my other blog.

“The hand of God was there…” was the explanation of the late Dr. Quintin Doromal, former PCCG commissioner & president of Siliman University. Quoted by his friend Douglas Elwood in the book, Doromal, an Ilonggo leader, was a witness to the event, having joined his old friend Fidel Ramos at Camp Crame and stayed there with him throughout those critical anxious hours. Indeed, God acts through people, as surely as he speaks through people, and that he uses the sometimes complex interconnection of human forces to serve his larger purposes…