Saturday, October 15, 2011

NCCP Joins Churches’ of Action on Food: A Solidarity Invitation

Note: This post is a bit has been hectic in the office of late.  Also this will be my last post as the NCCP Library Staff since I am ending my almost 20-year of serving the Council this day, October 15, 2011.  Thank you to all those who followed the blog on my watch.  Thank you to all who supported and is continuously supporting the ministries of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines.
- Ian Michael Ileto

On October 10, 2011, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) joins peoples of the world in a global action on food. To start the Churches Week of Action on Food, the National Secretariat of the NCCP joined by the National Office Staff of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, youth from KAIROS Philippines, Peace for Life staff, and CONTAK Philippines held a liturgical celebration which affirmed churches’ call– food security for the people, equitable and just distribution of the world’s food production and denouncing practices that deprive people of the right to food and calling for all to advocate for those who produce the world’s food and yet go hungry, themselves.

Mr. Danilo Ramos of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement in the Philippines) provided what is called the NOW Testament.  He discussed the current situation of the peasants in the Philippines and averred that the issues and struggle of the peasants and the development of agriculture is everyone’s concern.

The Philippines is an agricultural country with 75% of its population being peasants and farm workers.  However, land they till do not belong to them but to landlords and large corporations both local and foreign.  A lot of the peasants currently face eviction from the lands they currently till because of land grabbing of the same.

Mr. Ramos cited examples of large tracts of land in different parts of the country as being controlled by families or corporations, or being converted into something else that clearly does not benefit the farmers.  On top of this, because farmers do not have capital, they are subject to usurers whose interest rates range from 30-150%.  On the macro level, there are systems in place that continually oppress them like liberalization of the country’s agriculture and control of transnational corporations of chemical inputs.

The farmers call and so must the churches’ is to have genuine land reform – give land to the tillers and stop liberalization of agriculture.

Thus, the church is not only called to prayer but also to action toward social justice.
Forms of commitment and action
  1. Offering gathered during the service was given to the KMP as a support to the upcoming Peasants’ March on October 17, 2011.
  2. Liturgical celebration will also be held with local churches
  3. Church people enjoined to the Peasants’ March on October 17 to 21
  4. “World Rural Women’s Day
Oct. 14 -Peasant Women’s Assembly and Forum on Land Grabbing and its Impact to Food Security
Oct. 15-  peasant women’s march to Department of Agrarian Reform
October 16- world foodless Day- picket sa Department of Agriculture
  1. Oct. 14-21 Peasant and Agricultural Worker’s Luzon-Wide March (Lakbayan-Sakbayan) to Manila while Visayas and Mindanao will also do their region-wide March.  Theme:  “Tunay na Reporma sa Lupa” at Pagsabatas ng House Bill 374 o Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill (GARB).
  2. October 17 – “Salubungan sa Monumento and Alabang”
  3. October 17 – Vigil & Solidarity Night in front of Department of Agriculture (DAR) National Office in Quezon City
  4. October 18-21 “Pagkilos  sa Supreme Court” at sa October 21 march from Supreme court to Mendiola
  5. Oct 21 (9:00am)– AMIHAN and SAMMARO (Samahan ng mgag Magsasaka sa Mascap Rodriguez) will seed audience with CBCP regarding the issue of Land Grabbing through cancellation of EP at CLT.
  6. October 10- Dialogue with National Food Authority Council ng AMIHAN at  BANTAY BIGAS (Rice Monitor) (Alyansa ng Mamamayan para sa Sapat Ligtas at Abot kayang Presyo ng Bigas) regarding the issue of support services and subsidy for the farmers to be able to achieve rice self sufficiency and food security.

credits: text from NCCP website, photo by imileto

Thursday, October 6, 2011

NCCP Appeal for Typhoon Victims

The Emergency Situation
Typhoons Pedring (Nesat) and Quiel (Nalgae) wrecked havoc in most part of Luzon from September 24.  Typhoon Pedring entered the Philippine area of responsibility in September 24, 2011, exited three days after it ravaged the agricultural provinces of Isabela and Aurora in Northern Luzon; the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac and Bulacan in Central Luzon; the provinces of Catanduanes and Albay, including Legaspi City in the southern part Bicol Region; and affected thousands of families in the 17 cities and municipalities in Metro Manila, especially those living in low-lying and flood-prone areas.
Two days after Typhoon Pedring left the country many parts of the provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac and Nueva Ecija were submerged in between 3 feet and ten feet floodwater – with the town of Calumpit in Bulacan most severely flooded.  Thousands of families were trapped and forced to stay on their roofs as floodwater continue to rise.  Further complicating the situation left by Pedring, Typhoon Quiel came and brought in heavy rains and badly affected provinces in Northern and Central Luzon.
To date, many barangays  are still flooded in Isabela, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija and Bulacan.
Impact of the Typhoons
  • 1,183,530 families or 5,534,410 persons were affected in 3,252 barangays in 349 municipalities, 41 cities in the 34 provinces of Regions I, II, III, IV-A, IV-B, and V, CAR, NCR and Region VI.
  • 55 individuals died
  • 30 missing
  • 7,540 totally damaged houses
  • 41,224 partially damaged houses
  • PhP 8.8 billion – Damage to agriculture and infrastructure
volunteers preparing relief goods for the affected families
Relief and rehabilitation work is part of NCCP work and ministry.  We appeal to your heart of hearts to help alleviate the suffering of those affected by the consecutive typhoons.  You may deposit your donation to the following accounts:
Account Name:  National Council of Churches in the Philippines
Name of Bank:   Bank of the Philippine Islands (Quezon City West Triangle Branch)
Peso Account:  3051-0063-04
Dollar Account: 3054-0162-89
Donations in kind are also accepted.  The following in the list are most and urgently needed:
  • Food & bottled water
  • clothes
  • medicines
  • toiletries:  bath soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, face towel, laundry soap
  • sleeping mats, blankets,  mosquito nets
  • cooking utensils, plates, spoons, cups
  • plastic water containers
  • plastic sheets or canvas tent
You may bring your donations to 879 EDSA, West Triangle, QC.  Or you may call us at 922-8141 to pick up your donations (within NCR only).
May God bless your kindness tenfold.

credits: text from NCCP website, photo by imileto

Friday, September 30, 2011

NCCP three days after Typhoon Nesat (Pedring)

Work must go on no matter what.  Service to the people must not stop.  Scenes at the Council three days after typhoon Pedring wreaked havok in the country.  Still no electricity pending the replacement of the busted transformer outside the compound gate.
Staff in the dark Library compiling data of typhoon Nesat's damage
working by candle light
The darkness and heat won't stop this General Convention Committee members from accomplishing their tasks.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Typhoon NESAT (Pedring) aftermath at NCCP

It's back to work for most.
commuters lining up to ride the MRT at the North Ave station

At the National Council of Churches in the Philippines compound, its clean-up day.
Almond, Oblay and Jhun sweeping the leaf litter

Nanie (left) helping out. Government workers (top right) hauling the trash. Even the guard (bottom right) is doing his share in the clean-up

Unlike most of the Metro and the rest of the country, the Council was spared heavy damage needing only minor building repair.  As of this writing, power is still cut off due to a huge tree branch that fell on the electrical wires causing the transformer outside the gate to trip and explode.
(top and bottom photo) damage to the third and second floor window of the main building

tree that broke one of its main branch (top left of photo) causing the power failure in the area

front view of the main building

I am thankful that Typhoon NESAT (Pedring) spared the Council from damage.  Still, the country is suffering from the destruction brought by strong winds and floods.  I encourage everyone to pray for the victims of this latest tragedy and if you are able, please do help through the many institutions and organizations helping those in need.  You can also contact the Council at (0632) 922 8141 for info regarding its Relief and Rehabilitation efforts. - the library staff

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

NCCP Supports Campaign to Free All Political Prisoners, Join the Campaign

“I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
Luke 9:40

click here to go to the online petition site
The declaration and pursuit of justice in the Philippines is a continuing apostolate of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, for as long as people are unjustly vexed. We recognize the importance of relating with church bodies in countries similarly situated. We value immensely the solidarity of people and church agencies advocating the upholding of human rights everywhere. A violation of human rights anywhere is a violation of human rights everywhere.

Wherewith, I issue this appeal for you to stay on course with us by signing on to the enclosed signature campaign. Our similar endeavors in the past contributed enormously in upholding peace and justice.

We are calling for the general, unconditional and omnibus amnesty to all political prisoners in the country. It has been done before it can be done again.

In the name of the 354 political prisoners as of June 2011, and in the name of all that is just and peaceful, we sincerely covet your support.


General Secretary

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Biblico-Theological Reflection

Below is the text of the Biblico-Theological Reflection of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines' General Secretary during the opening of the seminar on Building HIV/AIDS Competent Churches in the Philippines.  This seminar is a cooperative endeavor of the NCCP and the Christian Conference of Asia.

A Biblico-Theological Reflection
Padi Rex RB Reyes, Jr.
General Secretary, NCCPhilippines
September 14-16, 2011

Last Saturday, the Executive Committee of the Christian Conference of Asia listened to the testimony of Pastor Ponsawan Khankaew. It was a powerful and moving testimony. Moving because it was a first person story – her life story. She told of her blindness and how one eye eventually gained sight. She talked of her isolation from her friends, from the hospital staff and above all her isolation from her own pastor and the members of her community. She was dismissed as a hopeless case, a sinner and her community talked about rituals and customs related to her impending death. She also told of how her love for her two sons and the apparent love of her sons for her carried her through the painful ordeal. It was powerful because her testimony is a challenge to the church and Christians about our notions of sin, mission and pastoral responsibility. There she was - well recovered singing of her faith in a Jesus who stood by her and healed her. There she was opening up a ministry for people bearing the suffering she underwent by putting up the Adonai Church in Pattaya and the Glory Hut Foundation out of nothing but her indomitable spirit to minister to people isolated by others. There she was receiving, without resentment, referrals from pastors who still think they have nothing to do with people living with HIV and AIDS. May she live much longer than the fifteen years she prayed for. There she was singing of the victory that was hers in Jesus Christ and the joy of watching her two boys grow up in a hostile world. There is no other profound and genuine witness to the love of Jesus and His command to love than the testimony of our own lives.

When her colleagues and friends ask her why she visits bars in Pattaya which is a popular tourist destination in Thailand, she counters “Why not”? Indeed, why not? Pastor Ponsawan proclaims God’s love and healing in a place where it matters most – where love and healing is not felt, utterly hidden by the vicious cycle of people who exploit those who are already marginalized and vulnerable for profit. In this case it is called tourism. Last week, the cover of the in-flight magazine of an Asian airline caught my attention (that is what in-flight magazines are supposed to do – catch attention, of course). Tourism is a dollar-earning industry in many parts of Asia. The magazine cover projects a certain aspect of tourism in an Asian country and targets a particular section of tourists. It is very subtle but the message is there. We have our own in the Philippines – pictures of beautiful and “submissive” women and projections of our hospitality.

The stories of healing and perspective-setting for people of faith in Matthew 9 are instructive for our purpose today. We have a situation here where the religious leaders, contained as they are by their concept of ritual purity, religious rigidity and their authority fail to see the divine agenda of healing. Healing does not only address the issue of physical wellness but also those that cause broken relations – people being cast into the margins, isolated and made more vulnerable in their vulnerability. Our text does not provide the reason or reasons how one got paralyzed, how is it that the woman suffered hemorrhage for years, how the two men became blind or how one person became a dumb demoniac. But, it does tell of how they drew near or were brought near to Jesus. Drawing near or being brought near suggests not just physical nearness but a conversation that results into conversion and healing. To the paralytic Jesus says: “take heart, your sins are forgiven. . .rise, take up your bed and go home”. To the woman, he says “Take heart. . . your faith has made you well”. To the blind men, he says “according to your faith be it done to you”. There is less of “moralizing” but more of compassion. He says “take heart”. None can be more compelling for a sick person than the desire to be healed and not be a social outcast. Jesus knows that and acts on that basis.

At a cursory glance, physical unwellness is caused by sin. To hold on to this view is to confine a portion of the total self as bad – in this case sexuality – and must be conquered at all costs so that we do not sin. This leads to a tendency to moralize – that one gets sick because of sin. Moralizing tends to espouse segregation or perhaps generates hatred or attitudes of domination or superiority and blocks the way for rendering loving service and creating an inclusive community. It complicates relationships. It is not uncommon to find people who hold the view that people contract HIV and AIDS because they are sinful, that regions are hit by tsunamis, earthquakes and hurricanes because the people there are sinful, that Padi Rex has not grown any taller because of his sins, etc. . . . . Such posturing defies and denies the place of scientific breakthroughs, which are also the results of another of God’s gift – the human mind.

I believe that our text is also intended to humble the Pharisees in their constant moralizing and hypocrisy. Because Jesus knew that they are consumed by “evil in their hearts” he healed people “that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins”. But beyond that is the lesson that Jesus wants to impart to the Pharisees: “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice’. Jesus sees mercy from the perspective of those who suffer, instead of from the perspective of those who are in the position to dispense of it. In this way can genuine compassion come about – solidarity with those in pain. This suggests an approach our churches can take in dealing with the issues that matter most to people. First, to be with them, and, second, to be for them. It emphasizes the “Word (which) became flesh and dwelt among” us. If the Word remained a Word, would Christianity be there or would God be relevant? I surmise that if God did not come to be in solidarity with us in Jesus Christ, we would still remain like the people of old, each tribe or nation having their own god with no mission to speak of. As it is, even the first Christian community recorded in Acts was marked by the genuine concern of its members to attend to the needs of the weak – “not one of them was hungry”. Paul, addressing the Romans gives some practical advise, too. “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (8.1). . . . You are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you, Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (8.9).

At the heart of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines’ self-understanding is faithfulness to Jesus who said they who want to be great must serve. Service or diakonia is the hallmark of the church. Service is extended not only to our own members but especially to others. “Others” does not just refer to non-members. “Others” refers to those to whom that service is most needed – those who are denied opportunities to live abundant lives, those who are isolated/ignored by their families, friends and even by their own members and pastors/priests, regardless of who they are. The NCCP’s self-understanding also seeks to be consistent with the definition of Paul of what churches are – communities built upon “the foundation of the apostles and prophets” and Jesus being the chief cornerstone, in that order. Apostles teach the essentiality of service and prophets call us all, especially those powers and principalities, to repentance and to love peace and justice. I have earlier cited the cover page of an Asian Airline in-flight magazine. Things like those are where the prophetic witness of the church comes in. Any demeaning or diminuition of human life is always a violation of human rights and should be exposed and denounced.

HIV and AIDS are not a curse. The first is caused by a virus like tuberculosis is caused by bacteria. The other is equally a serious condition gravely affecting the body’s immune system. Those who have contracted the virus and those with AIDS need care and not condemnation. A loving church will try to understand and know what these are in order to seek the people living with the HIV or PLHIV and people living with AIDS (PLA) out so that not one of them is lost. The book “Building HIV Competent Churches” is a valuable resource material for the churches in the Philippines and elsewhere. Every church should have it. A series of Bible studies could be formulated from its pages. After reading it, one is faced with the undeniable reality of HIV and AIDS and of the compelling need to respond. PLHIVs and PLAs are not faceless. They too, are the image of God.

It is not late for the churches, or the ecumenical movement for that matter, to extend loving service to the PLHIVs and PLAs and key affected populations. Let it be said that this concern is equally for our sake as it is for them. Now is also the time to engage in prophetic witness such that the many myths about HIV and AIDS, how they are contracted and how to prevent the same can be more objectively known and addressed. The fact is clear: the number of PLHIVs and PLAs is increasing in our country and the environment that allows that number to increase is also widening. We should not wait until the numbers reach thousands upon thousands.

Pastor Ponsawan has had a very personal experience of healing. Her faith has made her whole again. That wholeness goes beyond herself to the restoration if not renewal of social relationships. Her love for life is not only her personal claim but also propelled her to live out and express that love to those who have been made outcasts by their own kind. The Bible which is our source of personal and private devotion is the product of the engagement of God’s evangelists and prophets of the real issues that made people behave the way they did in those days. The faith that we claim, wrestles with the issues of power relations, of vulnerable people and of the gap between people – and proclaims a community of love, of hope, and of salvation.

photos: ian ileto

Friday, September 2, 2011


The National Council of Churches in the Philippines renews its call for the Philippine Government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to proceed with the formal peace talks.  The peace talks is a response to the yearning for peace and justice by the long-suffering majority in this country.  To delay it further is to pass on a responsibility which was within the means of the present to resolve, display the lack of will to deal with the barriers to a just and lasting peace and betray the faith in the Filipino.

Many agreements and resolutions have already been signed by both parties.  Among them are The Hague Declaration, the Breukelen Joint Statement, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees, the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and recently, the Oslo resolution of February 2011.  We have celebrated the signing of these agreements aware that these were achieved painstakingly and with the welfare of the people in mind.

The NCCP believes that these agreements are guideposts towards a successful peace negotiations.  These are consistent with the Biblical mandate to “seek peace and pursue it” (IPeter 3:11).  Furthermore, we understand that the greater population of this country has delegated the power and authority to pursue just and lasting peace to those who are now called to see it through.  We enjoin the parties to consider the foregoing charge.

We urge both parties to abide by and build on all previously signed agreements.  Continue the discussion in a manner befitting a genuine advocate of just and lasting peace.  May the God of peace give you the will and the grace to accomplish this task.

We also urge our constituents in the ecumenical movement and to fellow citizens of this country to hold on to the vision of peace.  Amidst the diversity of gifts of the faith is the divine invitation to proclaim and live out the call for peace on earth and with the earth.  Let us be steadfast in chanting God’s greatness and power in the struggle for abundant life.  Our unceasing prayer for peace and injustice includes our prayers that the men and women involved in the peace talks will persevere.  As the enthusiasm of the people for just and lasting peace refuses to fade away so do we urge the two parties to hold on to that same enthusiasm until we shall all dwell comfortably in our homes, own the lands we till and live in dignity according to the work of our hands.

General Secretary


September 2, 2011

to download the PDF file, click here