The Philippines, an archipelagic country composed of 7,600 islands, breeds diversity in culture, language, tradition, and customs. Inevitably, such diversity could sometimes lead to misunderstandings, form a regionalism perspective, and disunity.
Faith + Love = Unity
by Elbert Balbastro, Columban seminarian from the Philippines
The Philippines, an archipelagic country composed of 7,600 islands, breeds diversity in culture, language, tradition, and customs. Inevitably, such diversity could sometimes lead to misunderstandings, form a regionalism perspective, and disunity. Some would even brag that their culture is better than the others. However, as I journeyed here and abroad, I observed that wherever I go, what brings Filipinos together is their faith and love. The Church is very instrumental in uniting us despite our diversity and differences.
When I was working in South Korea, the Catholic Church in Hyehwa-dong is the most popular Church among Filipinos. They gather from every part of the country to celebrate the Holy Eucharist. Also, in most of the industrial cities where Filipinos are working, the migrant centers are present where the Holy Sacrifice of the mass is also celebrated. I saw and experienced that when Filipinos work abroad, unity despite diversity happens. In the migrant center where I was involved with, we helped Filipinos because they are our fellowmen, regardless of their religions. It appears to me that our faith is deep enough to prevail over our differences even though we are living in an archipelagic country. Indeed, our faith which transforms in love brings us together as one Filipino community.
In Pakistan, I also saw and experienced a Filipino community flourish by being united because of faith. Mostly, our masses were held at rented apartments or at the houses of Filipinas married to a local. Birthday celebrants will contribute for us to have a salo-salo after the mass. Some would request a special mass for their deceased relatives and others would ask for a house blessing. Our rich faith is our identity and the hallmark that we bring as Filipinos wherever we go. Through our faith, we find comfort, care, joy, and support from one another.
This year 2021 is significant for us Filipinos as the whole country is celebrating the 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines. More than the Church structures that the missionaries in the past left us, I believe that one of the greatest legacies they left behind is our faith, resulting to love for God and love for others. It empowers us to set aside our differences and embrace our diversities.