Asia West Pacific

Let’s go back to the roadmap! Initial Covid-19 Response in the Philippines

By Kins Aparece

Participants of the April 3 morning workshop from the Philippines, Kuwait, UAE, Malaysia, and Indonesia,  Photo by Carmela Ariza

A week after the Philippine COVID quarantine, the Manila team and Kins got together online for a good companion meeting to discharge emotions and share concerns. Afterward, we agreed to invite key student leaders, advisers, peace advocates, Cultures of Peace/AVP facilitators for an online session for listening and visiting. The Student Catholic Action of the Philippines (SCAP) offered to host a Friday Peace Practice Program.

Frence and Jonel, full-timers of the SCAP and alumni of the Creating Cultures of Peace training in Indonesia, offered to co-facilitate with Kins. When we did our first teambuilding, we took the time to stop and asked ourselves how to proceed. We agreed to do a two-hour peace practice and to refer back to the AVP Roadmap to build on the activities.

On the first Friday, March 27th, the opening was, name and “one good act that I did in this quarantine time.” Some participants actively supported the front liners and reconnected with their families. We introduced the AVP roadmap, cooperative agreements, affirming words, and affirming names. The participants were amazed at how the zoom technology could efficiently offer a way to share moving between the breakout rooms and the whole group. After the call, some of the participants also made use of online technology to reach out to their local groups.

On the second Friday, April 6th, we opened with positive name, and “one goodness I noticed at this time.” We allotted more time for the opening by providing breakout groups for them to share deeply. We practiced good listening and affirmation in pairs. The participants were more comfortable with and open to one another. We introduced the use of a journal during the activity debrief. One participant realized how much she needs to write her reflections, and promised to always come to the sessions with a notebook to journal. The participants acknowledged that they were in distress, and the practices helped them. The participants shared creative ways they used their capabilities during the quarantine, such as taking time to do gardening in their own homes, caring, and finding goodness. We adapted the light and livelies, such as lap tapping, rhythms and sounds, mind counting, big wind blows, and picking rambutan from the tree. We also encouraged the 30 participants to have a supply of drinking water at hand.

Lessons learned:

  • The quarantine period is not an excuse for us to stop affirming that peace is possible.
  • Good friends reach out to each other and offer spaces of listening and sharing.
  • Affirmation is a key to notice goodness within us and in others.
  • Start small and be prepared!