The Words of the Gabb Family
What has been happening in the Philippines over the past year is nothing short of miraculous. Working in this country with our dear brothers and sisters who have gone through so much, we are keenly aware of the watchful and loving eye of our True Parents, especially of our True Father, who is now free to travel anywhere at any time to inspire us.
Leading up to the eighth Interfaith Peace Blessing Festival was an all-out, day-and-night effort to reach the areas surrounding metro-Manila. The Smart Araneta Stadium in the heart of Quezon City has a capacity of sixteen thousand. However, to actually bring that many people requires a commitment to finding at least twice that number.
In addition to organizing this event, no less than six other events were being arranged at the same time: an International Leadership Conference (ILC) involving 300-400 dignitaries from the Philippines and ten other Asian nations; the Inauguration of the Asian Global Women's Peace Network (Abel Women's UN); a Youth Assembly organized by World CARP in association with YFWP; a Pure Love rally in downtown Manila; the official opening of the new International Peace Leadership College (a university for young Filipinos committed to serving as FFWPU volunteers after graduating," and the "soft" opening of the new FFWPU headquarters in Manila (it is still under construction). All these events were accomplished successfully over a four-day period beginning January 11.
The Filipino members were organized into different groups under the inspired leadership of Dr. Chung Sik Yong, who follows True Parents' formula course with absolute love, faith and obedience. Forty to fifty minutes of Hoon Dok Hae at 5 AM and twelve minutes' prayer were the starting points of every day. Testimonies from members' daily experiences often followed. Afterward, Dr. Yong would go around the room and personally greet each member. Once a day for eight days, young members and elders alike took part in "Jericho" walks around the event venues, including the Smart Araneta Stadium, where the Blessing Festival was to be held.
At first, and even up to a week before the event, we did not have the support of the major government offices. However, by the day of the event, the mayors of both Quezon City and Manila, and even the president's office, had all come around and sent letters expressing support for the program. The government actually encouraged people to come to our meetings. One reason is that we cared about the simplest people. Whether you are a government official or a poor person on the street, you could receive the blessing.
Our role in the campaign was on the public relations team, reaching out to prominent members of society to invite them to the ILC, and to the embassies to gain the support of the ambassadors. We were also inviting individuals to come to the stadium for the Blessing Ceremony. We would travel to the barangay offices to present videos and lectures on Divine Principle chapters one and two to the captains and to inspire married couples to register to attend the festival.
Left: Religious leaders give their blessings at the inauguration of the International Peace Leadership College; Middle and right: Scenes from the Blessing Festival
Constance: Most of the people I witnessed to were Catholic, and always the doors opened to me, I never had anyone reject me or saw any sign of disapproval. I grew up Catholic. People noticed I was someone of faith, who loved God; they noticed how passionate I was about morality.
Traveling was hectic and often long due to the rough roads and heavy traffic. Finding the barangay offices was sometimes a real challenge, even for local taxi drivers. We had to compete with other groups also trying to win the people. Every day was a battle!
As we got closer and closer to the Blessing Festival and ILC, the house we were staying in became increasingly full, starting out with about ten members and ending up with about fifty, sleeping all over the place. Bishop Elias Soria was there, inviting religious leaders, and there were lectures going on in the main PR office, which was our bedroom at night.
We sent out invitations to the embassies and repeated the invitations by fax. Our headquarters building is under construction and the phone and fax machine were in the guard house outside the building. It was just a hut on stilts, ten feet off the ground, so we had to climb a ladder to get to the fax and phone.
Ate met personally with representatives from a number of embassies. Jacv Manabat from Brazil came with me to her embassy, where the deputy minister welcomed us warmly, and accepted Father's autobiography. After two months of outreach, the Cambodian embassy responded best. They sent their chargé d'affaires for the first night of the conference; moreover, on the night of the Ambassador for Peace Awards the Cambodian ambassador and her husband arrived unexpectedly and sat at the head table with the guests of honor.
A Pure Love demonstration and rally held in downtown Manila was well attended by members and associates.
At the Interfaith Peace Blessing Festival, more than 13,000 couples came to receive the blessing. An overflow crowd filled an adjacent conference hall. As husband and wife we had the honor of serving at this additional venue through blessing the crowd with Holy Water.
Former Speaker of the House Jose de Venecia was completely won over. To the vast crowd in the stadium, he declared that Father Moon was "absolutely with us today!" He declared that this signified a whole new stage for UPF and the movement in the Philippines. Twenty-one religious leaders, including prominent members of the Roman Catholic Church, offered their prayers of blessing.
One of our guests not only attended a four-day workshop but also paid to attend the ILC, and even was made an ambassador for peace.
The day before the conference we met a medical doctor, who after a one-hour presentation committed to the conference and attended the Interfaith Peace Blessing Festival, staying up all night to attend the following day's events because it was too far for him to travel back and forth from his home.
All our members had such testimonies. The spirit of the Philippines is truly the spirit of miracles!
At back, left to right: Umberto Angelucci (in the yellow shirt) and his wife Marilyn, Ursula McLackland and Constance Gabb with local members who mobilized themselves to invite people to the Interfaith Peace Blessing Festival
When Dr. Chung Sik Yong instructed us to mobilize 13,000 couples for the Peace Blessing in Manila we all thought it was impossible. In March 2012 we mobilized 40,000 people to attend the Blessing Ceremony in the rural area of Mindanao with the support of the local government and community. That in itself was a miracle, but how could we repeat with similar large numbers in the capital city with no support from the local government and not much support from the community? A key factor is that the members in the Philippines are people of heart and loyalty. This proved to be our strongest asset.
Dr. Yong gave us deep internal guidance every day and worked side by side with the members. This gave us power and strength to face this seemly impossible task. We just went forward remembering that Mother had told us "for us, there is no stopping." It was really like that. We didn't think too much; if we had, we would have had difficulty believing that we could do it.
The Filipino members work so hard, young and old alike, without exception dedicating themselves to a task. They have a deep commitment to the mission, and even the home members work as if they are full-time members. I believe it was through their faith in the goals given to us by Dr. Yong and their total dedication that God could accomplish the impossible.