The Words of the Navalta Family

Unexpected Grace in Rural Philippines -- A local government hosts an Original Divine Principle workshop

Celestino Jose V. Navalta and Nasius Elias T. Soria
September 2011

Left: Datu Suharto T. Mangudadatu, governor of Sultan Kudarat Province, addressing the graduates Right: Bishop Soria at a meeting in April presenting the proposal for the workshop to former congressman Sultan Pax Mangudadatu Al Haj.

Nasius Elias T. Soria

The seven-day Mindanao Leadership Training Course held July 23-29 in Sultan Kudarat Province on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines was fulfilling and rewarding -- fulfilling in the sense that it was a mission accomplished. The provincial government sponsored the event in the capitol, in Isulan, the provincial capital. We held an Original Divine Principle (ODP) Seminar, five CAUSA presentations, and we read a one-hour Exposition of the Divine Principle overview lecture for Hoon Dok Hae. We conducted a Holy Wine Ceremony and held a regional level launching of the Asian Clergy Leadership Conference (ACLC).

There were fifty-eight participants at the seminar, plus ten staff members and two lecturers from overseas. Our daily schedule started with morning exercises followed by morning devotions, where we read a section of True Father's autobiography and reflected on it. We pursued this project with faith, not knowing what it would bring to us or contribute toward establishing Cheon II Guk until we were there and had started and finished it.

The inspiration to have the provincial government of Sultan Kudarat Province sponsor and host the Leadership Training Course came in January during an Original Divine Principle Seminar in Tagum, another city in Mindanao. Sultan Pax Mangudadatu Al Haj, a former congressman from Sultan Kudarat Province attended as our honored guest and speaker. He then invited us to conduct a seminar in his province. Everything would be provided, free of charge. Our continental director, Dr. Chung-sik Yong, requested that the sultan sponsor a forty- day advanced seminar. So, last April 18, our regional director, his wife and I visited the sultan at the Governor's Palace in Sultan Kudarat Province to submit the proposal. He approved an only a seven-day seminar. He felt forty days was too long as he was planning to run, during that time, for governor of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. The seminar was finally scheduled for July 23-29.

Left: Pastor Camilo E. Dela Fuente, reading a one-hour English Divine Principle lecture manual; Right: Mr. Celestino Jose P. Navalta, presenting a lecture to the sixty participants in a room called the King's Hall in the capitol, in Sultan Kudarat Province, the Philippines,

Many things happened in the meantime. On May 23 my grandnephew, the son of my nephew George and his wife Amita, and a blessed child, died. On July 1, our Philippines national leader Rev. Rolando Basuil, Jr., also went to the spirit world. In the Philippines, we have a holy ground in each of 165 cities and key municipalities. The tradition of Hoon Dok Hae is spreading throughout the nation. Members are starting with the one-hour Exposition of the Divine Principle,' and following that with the eight textbooks our True Parents have bequeathed to us.

I had felt that the Philippines should have a seven-day Divine Principle seminar sponsored by a provincial government. In my prayers, 1 had even gone to the extent of asking my good ancestors to help. So, when the seminar finally opened on July 23, all my anxiety over whether the program would be realized or not disappeared.

We had not realized what the seven-day Mindanao Leadership Training course, which took place in the King's Hall of the capitol, would offer us until it actually happened. Mindanao is the second largest island in the Philippines. As there had recently been flooding in the nearby provinces of Cotabato and Davao, it is my reflection that the provincial capital was like Noah's Ark. I believe this was the Holy Spirit showing us the way to restoration and salvation. What is asked of us is to have absolute faith in God and in our True Parents and to act based on that faith.

We did not know the results and fruits of the seminar, which many provincial government officials attended, until we had concluded it. We have established a solid partnership with a provincial government for our activities. We have set an example for the rest of the provinces in the Philippines to follow.

The seminar in Sultan Kudarat Province, which is predominantly Christian (although the provincial governor is a Muslim), proved that the Divine Principle is an educational tool for moral, ethical and universal values of the people regardless of religion, culture and tradition. I believe it is the only force that can unify Muslims, Christians and the indigenous peoples.

Bishop Soria is the secretary-general, in the Philippines, of the Inter- Religious Federation for World Peace. Please see overleaf for testimony about teaching the seminar and the response of participants.

Mr. Celestino Jose P. Navalta praying at the Blessing Ceremony

From Behind the Lectern
Celestino Jose V. Navalta

UPF Ambassador for Peace Sultan Pax Mangudadatu, Al Haq has been more than just a friend of UPF. After attending several UPF conferences, both local and international, he became one of its strongest supporters, sponsoring events in his province in partnership with UPF.

A high point of his valuable contribution was when he brought UPF's Mindanao Peace Initiatives to the attention of the members of the Philippine House of Representatives in Manila in 2009, while he was the representative of Sultan Kudarat Province in Mindanao. The historic meeting was held inside the Congress where Ambassador Mangudadatu personally introduced UPF and its delegates to his colleagues in the House of Representatives.

Ambassador Mangudadatu became famous after having won the gubernatorial election despite being the lone Muslim among nine candidates in a province that is predominantly Christian. The incumbent governor, Suharto Tan Mangudadatu, Al Haq, is his son. Like his father, Governor Mangudadatu is loved by the people of Sultan Kudarat Province because of his selfless generosity, work ethic and inter-religious work for peace.

For the seven-day seminar, not only were our participants and staff members permitted exclusive occupation of the air-conditioned rooms of the beautiful provincial palace, the government extended to us all hospitality by providing UPF a secretariat office plus a spacious and elegant meeting room where we would gather each evening to evaluate the day. The governor additionally sponsored all meals throughout the duration of the seminar. He even assigned a very high ranking official of the province in the person of Deputy Governor Grace O. Pingoy to assist us on practically anything we needed for the activity.

The more than sixty participants from around Mindanao were from different religions -- Islam, different Christian denominations and various tribal minorities. One participant pastor took two days to travel from a far distant part of Mindanao.

Many of the participants had attended and been touched by a five-day Original Divine Principle seminar held near the end of last year and wanted to deepen their understanding. Some have accepted True Parents as the Messiah, while others still want more evidence.

The lectures were based on the same outlines as those in the five-day seminar. Since the participants were all expecting something much deeper than what they had experienced earlier, I had to exert more heart and effort to elaborate every presentation with new examples and practical guidance. It was quite exhausting, especially at the start, but as the participants expressed how much they loved and appreciated the lectures, I received power to sustain my energy level.

I feel renewed awe and inspiration for the Divine Principle. That the Divine Principle consistently moves people's hearts in an emotionally powerful way astounds me. From such responses, I derive power to lecture, despite my having repeatedly addressed the same topics. The Divine Principle has the power to impress people with the truth, whether the person is a Christian, Muslim or a Lumad (the largest grouping of indigenous Filipinos). The use of other scriptures -- the Bible, Koran, Bhagavat Gita, Dhamapadha, etc. -- helped wonderfully to demonstrate the universality of True Parents' message.

During the graduation program, Governor Mangudadatu called for members of the Provincial Board to join the closing. They did not just come but even participated in the Holy Wine ceremony, which I believe was a very important condition for God to claim and work His providence in the province.

Mr. Navalta is the president of the Universal Peace Federation in the Philippines. 

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