Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A little late...

It's been a long time since I really surfed the Internet, and I know I missed all the hype about the Simpson's movie and the marketing strategies behind their success. I admit that I did not grow up watching the Simpson's because the only people I know in Springfield are Homer and Bart! But anyway, saw this site where you can be Simponized! I don't know about you, but I think they got it down here with my picture... Hahaha!!!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Conferences and changes

Jan Alistair L. Villegas
08 August 2007

A conference, to me, entails a group of people from different sectors in society gathered and seated before a giant podium, sipping coffee and eating doughnuts while listening to a certain "expert" talk about a specialized field that everybody knows about but just needed to attend the conference because their boss told them to go in their stead.

But the recent 13th Asia Pacific Youth Conference (APYC) I attended in Pagadian City hosted by MRA-Initiatives of Change (MRA-IofC), was everything but a "conference." It was more of a learning experience that just gets to you because it was guided by the four Absolutes: absolute honesty, absolute unselfishness, absolute love, and absolute purity.

On their website ( MRA-IofC is a global network committed to building integrity and trust across the world's divides through change in individuals and relationships, starting in their own lives. MRA is the acronym for Moral Re-Armament, which was a movement founded by Frank Buchman and inspired university students in the 1920’s and 1930's to spread social change amid a backdrop of Communism and Fascism. They also promote "quiet time," which is usually done in the morning to let the person listen to the inner voice of conscience to consider changes in one's own life and seek direction.

The following is a small (edited) testimonial speech this writer gave at the end of the conference:

"At the onset of this conference, I had no real idea or good enough reason why I decided to join this. The reason why in the end I attended was at the insistence of my good friend Efren Buendia that I should join the conference because of the values it advocates, and the conference's theme (“Change Begins With Me: Who I Am Today Will Make A Difference in the Future”) perked my interest a bit.

I was very much afraid of what I was expected to do since I was to receive a scholarship that made it possible for me to join the conference. The funding came from people all over the world, and it made me think harder and deeper if this was really the thing for me, and would I be doing justice to this noble undertaking.

But as the days went by, I had a hint of what I was to do for this organization, because I believe that everything I do has a reason that will be clearer each passing day. I am still young and I have a lot of things ahead of me – good and bad. This APYC has given me reason to think clearly about my relationships with my father and family. There have also been realizations that have cleared up and let me understand what I have to do to address issues that are currently bothering the Philippines.

The APYC has also let me realize that it is okay to tell people what I think of, and the good thing is that they will not criticize, look down, ridicule, and think differently of you. They help you more as a person by listening to you, supporting you, and crying with you.

I have had much respect and appreciation from my family group since there were issues that I have always hidden deep inside my heart, which somehow was coaxed out of me and forced me to think if this was really me. This further led me to a realization that even though I think that I am invincible and nothing can stop or affect me, the truth of the matter is, I am very weak and vulnerable. The whole week, I have realized that being honest and open to my feelings is very healthy for me.

Other thing that on hindsight I should have done was join the family workshop (though I enjoyed the dance workshop), because they challenged me with their skit question: "Do you think you know yourself?" The whole conference has helped me find out that little voice (though it still is whimpering and trying to be a difference).

I thank the organizers for giving me this opportunity and scholarship to be a difference in my life, and hopefully I can become a difference in other people's lives no matter how small it is. Thank you."

The MRA-IofC believes that moments of personal transformation often mark a new direction in a person's life. And personal change can often lead to change in situations. I believe I can and will change. And it started with me.


It has been a fruitful five and a half years since I first started in Silliman University, and I have had the privilege to be part of a diverse and important part of the University, and it is with this publication. tWS has always been my life, especially when I was still a writer until I became the Associate Editor. This is hopefully my last semester in Silliman, and I fondly reminisce the drunken, craze-filled and teary-eyed nights I have spent inside the torture chamber and Guy Hall. The torch has been passed, and I am just a spectator. So with bittersweet memories, Persiflage is signing off.