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Philippine-Wide Youth Congress 2008, Youth it’s time!!!
By: Jonathan Divina

 

Picture this in your mind: around ten or more groups of Adventist young people gathered in an open field with each group composed of not more than 15 members. Sounds ordinary for a gathering like this, right? But here’s the fun part. Each group was a mixture of Ilocano, Bisaya, Ilonggo, Waray, Kapampangan, Tagalog, and other delegates from all over the Philippines. That gives it a very unique blend for a group, doesn’t it? That’s just one of the activities that made this years’ Philippine-Wide Youth Congress in Mountain View College  (MVC) Valencia City, Bukidnon a very much fun-filled event. From April 14 to 19, 2008 the force of the Filipino Adventist Youths was felt in MVC. The theme for this event , “Youth It’s Time!” certainly aroused sleeping neurons in our brain.


 I and the other delegates from the  South-Central Luzon Conference (SCLC)  were not able to make it for the opening program because we opted to travel from Manila to Cagayan de Oro (CDO) by ship.  After 36 hours at sea, we arrived CDO, the “city of golden friendship” at around 7:30 in the evening of April 14.  Another 4 hours was spent travelling by bus before we finally set foot on MVC campus at approximately 11:30pm. We were then so exhausted!  And so, after we were able to locate our dormitories and selected our rooms we immediately fixed our beds and dozed off. The dawn worship was scheduled at 5 in the morning so we barely had five hours of sleep that night. Having spent four years in a dormitory in Adventist University of the Philippines (AUP) during my college days made me feel so comfortable sleeping in a double-decked bunker. My body clock woke me up at around 4:30  that Tuesday morning of April 15  just in time for the dawn worship. Even though I’m still craving for more sleep,  I had to get myself ready for the day’s activities. First activity:  bath time on a cold morning!


The scheduled speakers for the worships and devotionals  were our very own leaders from the three unions: South Philippine Union Conference (SPUC), Central Philippine Union Conference (CPUC), and North Philippine Union Mission (NPUM).  Romero A. Daquila, the treasurer of NPUM shared an awakening message entitled “Youth It’s Time to Wake Up.”  After the worship, I and Benjie Base, my buddy from Lucena City spent some  time walking around the campus since it was  our first time to be there. We were so amazed when we saw different types of vehicles parked near the hundreds of tents scattered on the grounds of MVC. From ten wheeler trucks  to buses, jeeps, AUV, SUV, PUV, motorcycles, name it and you’ll see it there. These are the “kuyogates.”  This so called “kuyogates“ are brethren from Mindanao who attend  almost every event  like this as a large group of supporters to their official youth delegates. Aside from these hundreds of tents and vehicles we also noted  the long line of booths along the sidewalks that offers food ranging  from the ordinarr the short introduction our facilitator left and I was given the task to lead the group (maybe because they thought I was the oldest one in our group).


We chose the “human tic-tac-toe” as the first game of our group. Since this requires another team as an opponent it was more enjoyable. We won, and that was so special because it was our first game and immediately we emerged as winners! We searched the MVC drill ground for more fun games and we enjoyed playing the dodge ball game, the shoot the hoop (putting  in 3 hoola hoops in poles), basket niyog (played like basketball but using a coconut as the ball instead), bowling (using coconut also as the ball), happy feet walk (with all members’ feet tied together), hit the score (like a dart game but using a small ball to hit the scores),and many other fun games. We barely noticed the time when we were doing these fun games.  Laughter, whistles, funny comments and jokes were heard all over the open field. We had a great time!


The plenary sessions that were held every afternoon for the second group offered different flavors. Lectures varied from “proper waste segregation,”   Christian and love, courtship and marriage, anatomy of a happy marriage, strategic plans for small groups, empowering youth, drowning generation, and others topics that focuses on how to be an ideal youth for the church  and for God’s services. Some of the resource persons for these lectures were:  Jonathan Tejel, our World Pathfinder Director; Hiskiah Missah,  World Associate Youth Director;  and Dr. Baraka G. Muganda,  World Youth Director. Seeing these people in person and hearing them speak of God’s word was indeed a great experience.


The first three evenings of this event was filled with a different kind of entertainment because after the evening devotional the three unions presented their cultural show. The full support of our brethren from Mindanao is clearly manifested by their nightly attendance which was estimated to be around 20,000 (including the official delegates). The first one to showcase their talents and cultures were NPUM, where SCLC belongs. The program kicked-off with the opening bicolano song rendered by the Southern Luzon Mission (SLM) delegates. The highlight of the program was the Ifugao native dance by the Ilocano delegates in full ethnic attire. Dr. Baraka Muganda and Jonathan Tejel were even asked to join the dance and they didn’t hesitate to do it. They danced to the tune of the kulintang and it made the audience, both the delegates and kuyogates  burst with laughters and cheers. We were in awe as we watched our Adventist Youth world leaders join in Luzon’s cultural presentation. The program ended with  the NPUM delegates (including myself) singing onstage “Isang Lahi.” The following night April 16, was CPUC’s turn to present their talents and cultures that are uniquely from the Visayas  through songs and dance numbers. The third night was the host’s time to shine. Different singing groups, quartet, trio, and solo artist rendered a mixture of gospel and ethnic songs.  Youth delegates from Davao Mission made the night even more special as they performed a dance number like the one shown on Davao’s famous Kadayawan festival with matching red tribal uniform.


The activities from Tuesday to Friday were a mixture of fun things that we had experienced for the first time, and some old things that we still enjoy doing. That Friday afternoon, since it was declared as free time, the SCLC delegates gathered as one group and hiked together to the MVC  waterfalls. This is made up of 3 falls, the first one was a very high waterfalls, the second one looks like a stairs of water, and the third one are twin falls (which unfortunately wasn’t reached by my group because of the fast approaching sunset).  Simply amazing!


Sabbath day, April 19 was  extra special for me. It was my first time to attend a Sabbath worship service with an estimated congregation of 60,000 Seventh-day Adventist (it includes the official delegates, kuyogates and our brethren from neighbouring towns, cities, and provinces who joined us on that day). Dr. Baraka G. Muganda delivered an inspirational message that challenged the youth as well as the older folks who were there with us. The week long program ended on that Sabbath afternoon with the commitment service that was led by our World Youth leaders. Dr. Hiskiah I. Missah, the GC associate Youth Director gave the message and the candle lighting followed as the symbol of our commitment for a life and service for God and humanity as Seventh-day Adventist young people.  Dr. Muganda offered the commitment prayer after that, and then Pastor Jobbie D. Yabut, the SSD Youth Director declared the closing of the youth congress.  The theme song “Youth it’s time” was sang by the delegates together for the last time and then it’s good bye time for some of our new friends for they have to go home  that Saturday night. Our last night at MVC was spent taking pictures together with our new friends from Visayas, Mindanao and Luzon, as well as our fellow SCLC delegates who became closer to each one of us during the week long event.


Sunday morning was time to say farewell to our fellow delegates. We had mixed emotions. Sad for we might never see our new friends in person again, but happy for the unforgettable experiences  we shared for the week. The rough and dusty road down to Valencia  City never bothered us as we waited for over an hour  for our bus which took us back to Cagayan de Oro. The dizzying road never made our spirits go down, we are still one happy group of SCLC delegates. We spent the night at the SPUC headquarter, and even though we slept on their tennis court it doesn’t matter, we were still glad to be a part of the Philippine-Wide Youth Congress. The following morning, we were headed to CDO airport and after spending an hour and ten minutes on a plane, and about four hours on a bus, I am back here in my home town, Atimonan. It’s nice to be home, but what made it even nicer was that I have spent  one of  the best week of my life at the Phil-Wide Youth Congress at MVC. It made an impact in my life as an Adventist Youth. It made me grow wiser and more mature spiritually. I made new Adventist friends from all over the Philippine archipelago, and that’s just the best bonus any Adventist youth can have for a week long stay in Mindanao.


 

 

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