Bought and Beaten Realities

Last July, the Vatican hosted a meeting with mayors around the world to deliberate on the pressing environmental challenges and how they contribute to the humanitarian crisis in migration and modern slavery.

The conference began by hearing disturbing testimonies from two Mexicans who experienced the pain brought about by human trafficking.  One of them, Ana Laura Pérez Jaimes, spent five years chained up and forced to work 20 hours a day in Mexico.  She added she had to urinate in a plastic bag; her labor forced her to iron for many hours a day without food or water.  She then showed the mayors photographs of the scars she got from her abusive employers.

These individual experiences of the two women are only a small portion of a big horrendous system.  According to the International Labor Organization, human trafficking is the second largest source of illegal income worldwide, surpassed only by drug trafficking.  It is the fastest growing means by which people are enslaved, the fastest growing international crime, and one of the largest sources of income for organized crime (UN Office on Drugs and Crime).  In the Philippines, the need to overcome poverty and find work has led millions of Filipinos into this cruel fate for the past years.

The conference’s goal–to combine environmental issues with these human trafficking realities–was greatly highlighted by Pope Francis in the encyclical Laudato Si’: “…a sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings.  It is clearly inconsistent to combat trafficking in endangered species while remaining completely indifferent to human trafficking, unconcerned about the poor, or undertaking to destroy another human being deemed unwanted. This compromises the very meaning of our struggle for the sake of the environment” (Laudato Si’, 91).

Thus, human trafficking was seen not only from a global crime perspective but as an issue revolving around man’s relationship with his natural, social, and built environments.

Because human trafficking is a social system based on deception, control and power, its success has always been contingent upon the acceptance or resistance by the majority of the community.  Condemnation of this modern-day slavery by the community, in turn, has led to its eradication.  The answer, therefore, is for individuals and the society to identify this crime, be aware about it, talk about it, and take action to disrupt its operation.

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Considering these points, the Archdiocese of Jaro, through the Jaro Archdiocesan Youth Commission, is implementing a program called “DOULOS”.  The goal of this project is educate the Filipino youth about trafficking in persons.  As part of the project, forums about human trafficking will be conducted to different schools in the provinces of Iloilo and Guimaras starting 2015 August until 2015 December.  The team to conduct the forums will be composed of some trained youth of the archdiocese, and a member of the Visayan Forum, one of the country’s key anti-human trafficking crusader.

During the International Day Against Trafficking in Person last July 30, project DOULOS was launched.  It was attended by 1,000 students and parishioners of the St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish in Leon, Iloilo.  Also present was Mrs. Cauntic, the DSWD officer of the municipality of Leon, who assured those present that the DSWD office is always available to serve their needs.

To complement the program, “TIPster”, an awareness campaign against trafficking in persons, was also launched on social media.  This social media platform aims to educate and involve the youth in the fight against human trafficking.


Archdiocese of Jaro: Fr. Rafael Luis Clavel, Archdiocesan Youth Director, and Mr. Keneth Gadian

Empowering Youth Ministers Against Human Trafficking: Talitha Kum partners with ECY

The Philippine Catholic Church fortifies it commitment to stop trafficking in persons through its bold step of gathering more than 70 delegates from 17 dioceses nationwide for an intensive training course on trafficking in persons. Organized by the Episcopal Commission on Youth (ECY) represented by its President, Most Rev. Leopoldo Jaucian, SVD, DD and Talitha Kum- the International Network of Consecrated Life Against Trafficking in Persons represented by its International Coordinator, Sr. Estrella Castalone, FMA and Asia Coordinator, Sr. Maria Victoria P. Sta. Ana, FMA, this project aims to empower the youth ministers to stop this modern-day slavery.


Experts and well-known counter trafficking advocates lead the provided significant inputs in this 5-day training course held from April 20 to 24, 2015 in Lipa City. They were: Ms. Sally Ujano (National Coordinator of Philippines Against Child Trafficking – PACT); Ms. Jean Enriquez (Executive Director of Coalition Against Trafficking in Women in Asia Pacific- CATWAP); and Sr. Henedina Mananzan from the Religious of Good Shepherd. The Laura Vicuña Foundation’s experiences  on Protection, Prevention and Partnership strategies in Counter Trafficking were also presented by its Executive Director Sr. Maria Victoria P. Sta. Ana, FMA.


The very rich and interactive discussions harnessed the potentials of youth ministers toward the prevention and protection of children, minors and youth from the grim reality of trafficking in persons specifically in the dioceses which are disaster prone, i.e. frequently devastated by natural calamities:  typhoons, earthquakes, floods, landslides.


Four bishops who diligently completed the four-day session namely: Most Rev. Guillermo Afable, DD, Most Rev. Ricardo Baccay, DD, Most Rev. Romulo Dela Cruz, DD, and Most Rev. Buenaventura Famadico, DD served as inspiration for the youth ministers to be well-informed, courageous, daring, innovative, vigilant and be Christ-centered and ecclesial in their response in counter-acting human trafficking.In order to address the reality of trafficking at the diocesan level, some of the commitments were:

1) conduct advocacy and awareness program on Human Trafficking in schools, parishes and communities;

2) strengthen partnership and networking with LGUS, NGOs and like-minded organizations addressing the issue of trafficking in persons (TIP);

3) integrate TIP issue of trafficking in persons in their existing programs and formations for youth;

4) cascade this training course to their youth leaders;

5) create a special council or committee that will focus on TIP and extend services to TIP survivors such us identifying victims and open dialogue with them;

5) (sic) extend volunteer services to NGOs that serve trafficked victims such as Laura Vicuña and ECPAT;

6) conduct interfaith dialogue to solidify effort of the church against human trafficking;

7) conduct research and training of volunteers and advocates; and,

8) monitor the implementation of these action plans.


The training course was concluded with a show of commitment and strong conviction of implementing their plans to the following dioceses that were represented in this training course: Archdiocese of Tuguegarao; Archdiocese of Jaro; Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, Archdiocese of Manila, Diocese of Kalibo, Archdiocese of Zamboanga, Diocese of Legazpi, Archdiocese of Palo, Prelature of Isabela de Basilan, Diocese of Malolos, Diocese of Daet, Archdiocese of Davao, Diocese of Cubao, Archdiocese of Cebu, Diocese of Digos, Diocese of San Pablo, and the Archdiocese of San Fernando.


Source: E-newsletter no. 10 (April 2015) of the Laura Vicuna Foundation, Inc.

Memoirs of a Taizé Permanent

Prayer works!


I have always dreamt of travelling to other countries. Being raised in a family which is not able to afford this privilege, I kept this dream locked up in my heart.


When I was new to the Youth Ministry, I was invited to attend a prayer. They explained that the prayer will have a lot of singing and a long period of silence. This intrigued me because I have always lived in a busy city and I got used to a vibrant, lively and energetic youth ministry. How could so many young people stay quiet for such a long time? What do you do during silence? Pray? Sleep?


After my first prayer in the way of Taizé, I got hooked to this way of praying. I had the chance to connect with God by singing the chants repeatedly and feeling God’s presence during the time of silence. Since then, I always came to Taizé prayers in the archdiocese. Little by little, I got to know more about the brothers and the community.


In May 2014, I was given the chance to apply for a slot to go to the Taizé Community in France. A few weeks later, I received the confirmation that I was qualified and was informed that I would leave later in the year.


In coming to Taizé during the winter months, I needed to prepare myself to spend Christmas and New Year thousands of miles away from home. I also had to adjust to the climate and the different cultures of the different people I had to live with. Thankfully, I was able to breeze through all of those challenges and focus on my mission in Taizé: to reflect, especially on the theme of the European meeting in Prague, of being “salt of the earth.”


When you go to Taizé, you have to participate in the common life which includes praying three times a day and helping out with some practical things. During the latter, it allows you to get to know the people whom you share the common life with. I was also given the chance to meet a lot of young people who came to Taizé for a week or just a few days. I met believers (Catholics and Protestants), non-believers (those who do not believe in God or a God but have open minds) and seekers (those who are seeking their faith). Through them, I was able to share the joy of the Good News and the joy that radiates from every Filipino. This is, for me, one way of being “salt of the earth.”


“If salt loses its taste, it would be of no use.” When sharing, you must also have the capacity to receive. I also needed to nourish myself during those days. I received this nourishment during the silence, especially when I spent a whole week in silence. According to Brother James, “Silence is a time to be alone, to know that you’re not”. During the whole week, we had daily Bible reflections in the mornings and plenty of time to take long walks around nearby villages in the afternoons. I took this time to remain in God by opening my whole being to Him and most importantly to listen to His voice. It was also during these times that I truly understood the fruits of silence. As my contact brother explained, silence is a time to “rest in God”. It became a time for me to reflect on my day, the reading or the message of the icons that are found around the Church. It also somehow amazed me to see so many young people being silent together for eight to ten minutes, three times a day. During these times of being in silence, our relationship with God became even stronger.


One of the many gifts of Taizé is friendship. I have grown a love for the Icon of Friendship. It reminds me of the friendship that God extends to us; in return, it is a call for us to share this to others. Staying in a community for three months allows you to form strong friendships. This may mainly be because faith was one of the foundations of this friendship and God is at the center of this. These friends became our family in Taizé. It is hard for us Filipinos to be away from our families for a long time especially during the Christmas season. During these days, our friends in Taizé made us feel like we were home. I was also able to appreciate the sacrifices that overseas Filipino workers make for their families to have a better life.

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When the opportunity to come to Taizé happened, I have been active in the archdiocese for a few years and I was always busy that I did not even have the time to arrange some of my documents. But through constant prayers, with the intercession of St. John Paul II and St. Therese of Lisieux, I was able to work everything out. I just needed to turn to God and remain in Him.


“God, gather and turn my thoughts to you. With You there is light. You do not forget me. With You there is help and patience. I do not understand Your ways, but You know the way for me.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer


Archdiocese of Jaro, Winter 2015

Remittance of share of NYD2013 Mass collection

Happy Easter!
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The CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Youth expresses its deep gratitude
to the following ecclesiastical territories
for their remittance of financial support to our office
as represented by the 30% of their Misa de Gallo collections
last 16 December (list as of 31 March 2014)

Diocese of Bangued

Diocese of Bayombong

Diocese of Cabanatuan

Archdiocese of Manila

Diocese of Novaliches

Diocese of Parañaque

Diocese of Boac

Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan

Diocese of Libmanan

Diocese of Calbayog

Archdiocese of Cebu

Diocese of Naval

Diocese of Talibon

Archdiocese of Jaro

Diocese of Digos

Diocese of Kidapawan

Diocese of Marbel

Prelature of Isabela

Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo

May we take this occasion to appeal to those who have not yet remitted their share to do so, as this will be a great help to support our commission to fulfill its mandate.
Thank you very much for your kind attention!
In this Year of the Laity, may we continue to choose to be brave:
to make into saints and heroes the youth entrusted to us by our Lord,
by becoming saints and heroes ourselves.

Youth urged to re-discover virtue of purity

JARO, Iloilo, Feb. 11, 2014—As the world celebrates February as the month of hearts, a medical doctor and her husband urged young people to re-discover the virtue of purity.

Popularly regarded as a month for lovers, February should also remind young people that true love between man and woman is shown by mutual respect through chastity, pro-life couple Dr. Dolores Octaviano and husband Erlando, said.

Understanding the pressures that the youth are subjected to in present society through pornography, peer-pressure, and the so-called “alternative lifestyles”, the couple encouraged young people by affirming that “purity is still possible nowadays”.

The wife and husband team shared a lesson from the testimony of a young American couple that recently visited the Philippines, chastity speakers Jason and Crystalina Evert. They said that the best gift people in love can give to each other is one’s purity.

They also said that, while everyone is called to live pure and chaste, those who have fallen should never give in to discouragement.

Erlando recalled Jason Evert telling people that for those who have fallen, the surest way to a get up again is to have recourse to the sacrament of Confession.

For her part, Dr. Octaviano strongly advised young people to never resort to thinking that they never can overcome temptations or that they never can change for the better.

“If you end up thinking that way, remember that such thoughts come from the evil one,” Octaviano said.

She explained that in the Gospel, Jesus Christ leads sinners to begin again, citing the case of the woman caught in adultery who was told by Jesus, to “Go and sin no more.”

Erlando and Dolores Octaviano are both members of the Jaro Archdiocesan Commission on Family and Life. They host a radio program on family and life concerns every Sunday at noontime in Aksyon Radio Iloilo.

Source: CBCP News Article by: Fr. Mickey Cardenas

Collated Report of the WYD2013 Local Celebrations

The 28th World Youth Day has been a strong experience of the universality of the Church, of faith, communion and mission, and of a living relationship with Christ.

Due to different limitations, not all Filipino youth were able to go to Rio de Janeiro.  But thanks to many youth ministry offices which courageously exerted effort to organize simultaneous local WYD2013 celebrations, many Filipino youth in different parts of the country were able to  experience the WYD2013 spirit.

The CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Youth commends all those youth ministry offices which organized these local WYD2013 celebrations; we especially affirm the following youth ministry offices which sent us reports of their WYD2013 local celebration:

Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro

   Immaculate Conception Parish Youth Apostolate

   St. John Marie Vianney Youth Apostolate

Archdiocese of Cotabato (Archdiocesan Pastoral Team of Cotabato)

Archdiocese of Jaro (Jaro Archdiocesan Youth Commission)

Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan (Archdiocesan Youth Council) 

Diocese of Bacolod (Diocesan Commission on Youth)

Diocese of Butuan

   St. Michael the Archangel Parish Youth Council

   St. Vincent Ferrer Parish Youth Ministry

Apostolic Vicariate of Tabuk (Commission on Youth)

And the joint efforts of the Regional Youth Coordinating Councils of the National Capital Region (10 dioceses), Military Ordinariate and Federation of National Youth Organizations


Click here to download the Collated Report of the WYD2013 Local Celebrations.