Philippines: Our Community and pastoral Project
Our community in the Philippines has five Spanish members. There are four consecrated missionaries and a missionary priest: Belén Gómez of Madrid, Toñi Martinez of Iznalloz (Granada), Manoli Sanchez of Monesterio (Badajoz), Ana Palma of Granada, and Darío Marote of Salamanca.
We arrived in the diocese of Lingayen-Dagupan, about five hours north of Manila, in December 2015 where we were welcomed by the church. Our two houses, one of which is for the missionaries and the other for Dario, are in the municipality of Malasiqui in the province of Pangasinan, which is made up of about 130 thousand inhabitants.
Our main pastoral work is carried out in five rural chapels. Dario celebrates Mass regularly during the week, and together we take care of children’s catechesis, young people’s formation and weekly house visits where we take communion to the sick.
Toñi and Manoli are still living in Manila where they are studying Tagalog to prepare themselves for becoming part of our Malasiqui mission.
We are a missionary community and our preferential love and dedication goes to the young. In this specific moment in the Philippines, young people are at a disadvantage and form one of the most vulnerable sectors of society.
For over a year now there has been a new president, (Duterte) and as you will have heard in the news, the government’s priority is the elimination of the drug problem. Its policy is to kill all the people involved, whether they are consumers or traffickers.
This way of tackling things is leading to the death of many innocent people, especially those who are poorest, including many of the youth. The current death toll is around 14,000 people who have been effectively murdered. In the country this situation is known as "Extra Judicial Killings"; because there are no trials and people are murdered on the spot, by a gang of hired assassins. The Church of the Philippines has reacted strongly mounting a campaign called "Not killing, But healing". We know this is a problem that is not going to be solved by shooting on the streets of poor neighbourhoods. It requires a serious process because the root causes of the drug problem are linked to other international areas of drug trafficking and commerce and there are many more people involved than the young consumers of the neighbourhoods.
This is the reason why we have chosen to work in the formation of young people, in the Public Institute. It teaches more than 4000 young people, who are the poorest of all Malasiqui. We go to the institute once a week to be with them, to give them talks about values and to offer retreats, so that they have the experience of a personal encounter with Jesus and feel loved and valued. They discover that there is Someone who believes in them and that they have so much to give. Our work is preventative, because we invest our time in them, we believe in them and we give them a new missionary horizon so that they can also help others. We want to focus on the root of the problems and dedicate ourselves to healing hearts. As José Rizal, one of the national heroes of the country, said: "Young people are the hope of the country."
If you want to get in touch with our community directly you will find our email below and we can tell you more about our missionary work in this lovely community of the Philippines.
Ana, Belén, Toñi, Manoli and Dario