The Words of the Villagante Family

An Interesting Place to Work

Bernardino Gonzaga Villagante
October 2009

On January 14, I received a phone call from Master Venus Agustin, my leader in Tong-il Moo-do. He told me I have a new mission and must report as soon as possible to the national headquarters in Manila. When I arrived the next evening, my leader introduced me to Mrs. Marilyn Angelucci, the wife of the national messiah to Afghanistan, Umberto Angelucci. She asked me if I would like to be a Tong-il Moo-do instructor in Afghanistan. Without hesitation, I said, Yes! Sure! Why not?

I had been teaching Tong-il Moo-do in Indonesia, but at that point, I packed my things and left for Afghanistan. I didn't have any fear about going to Afghanistan, even though I had heard so much gloomy news about the situation there.

For a long time, Umberto and Marilyn had been looking for members to come to Afghanistan to support their work. The leaders in the Philippines decided they would help. I arrived in Kabul on April 5, and I have been staying with the Angeluccis.

My family lives in the southern part of the Philippines, in Mindanao. I was blessed among the 360,000 couples in 1995. We have two daughters. Our Unification Movement in the Philippines supports them there, and the Angeluccis have been supporting me here. This is not easy, but my family, especially my wife, supports me very much and understands the importance of the public mission.

During my first week, the Angeluccis introduced me to some of our ambassadors for peace. Even though they are the only national messiah couple working in Afghanistan, they are doing many projects and activities in different areas -- sports, peace education and micro-finance, to name a few. They always have a tight schedule for their activities and meetings with contacts in different fields. They really show a good example as a blessed couple, working hard to build a good foundation for our movement in Afghanistan.

A warm welcome in a conflict zone

Afghanistan may be a country at war but its people are wonderful. They have big hearts and are very accommodating. There are many people who truly embody the words of Prophet Mohammed (pbuh). When I started to share and explain Dr. Moon's teachings, I was inspired to hear from their own mouths that he is really a man of God. There are many Afghans who have preserved good values in their families. Most of the young people respect their parents and older brothers.

I feel that I can contribute to the providence in Afghanistan through martial arts, where I can focus on young people. I can share the Divine Principle indirectly through martial arts philosophy and activity. There are many opportunities to inspire young people to involve themselves in our programs, especially the projects for peace.

Naturally, there have been many challenges since I started my mission in Afghanistan. Since this is a war-torn country, you cannot freely go anywhere you like. We always need to consider our security when we want to go some place.

The Afghan character is very strong; this is a masculine country. I also have to be sensitive to the culture of the country, which is quite different from others. For example, during martial arts training men and women have to be separated. They are not allowed to study together in the same classroom or gym. When I am conducting training for women and need to touch them in order to show the proper execution of a technique, I must ask their permission. Afghanistan is 99 percent Muslim, so I have to familiarize myself with what is acceptable here. I'm always careful in choosing the right words to convey our True Parents' teachings, because students might otherwise misinterpret what I say.

The fighting arts that make for peace

Though martial arts are fighting arts, they emphasize not only the training of the body but more importantly the training of the mind. Tong-il Moo-do emphasizes self-sacrifice, self-discipline and self-control. It has been developed to unite martial arts and their philosophies through practicing universal values. In Tong-il Moo-do, we train the body to be one with the good motivation of the mind. If people train well and develop self-control, that control can be the foundation to achieve the three life goals of Tong-il Moo-do martial artists. These are aligned with the three blessings in the Principle. Martial artists must become mature individuals by practicing self-control. On that foundation, we can realize good families and prosperous relationships among people. Ultimately, we can develop our talents and skills in martial arts and other fields in order to contribute to the society, which is the third life goal of Tong-il Moo-do martial artists. If all practitioners train themselves like this, there will be peace and prosperity among nations and the world at large.

One father testified how precious this martial arts project was, because it had changed his children's lives. He was moved by the result of his two boys' training. These children had never been respectful to their elders or their parents, but through the training, they had changed.

During training, the children recite the seven tenets of Tong-il Moo-do and put their hands on their hearts. They shout in a loud voice, "I pledge to be filial and loyal to God and to my parents." Because of this, children must change their behavior; they are reminded every day of their duty. Often, parents are surprised to see their children bow to the gym and the instructor and also bow to their fellow practitioners and say, "Thank you so much for your hard work." Parents have expressed sincere appreciation for the training their children are receiving.

I have one student named Wahidullah Khalili, a twenty-one-year old boy; he studied martial arts in other clubs and was a gang leader in one of Afghanistan's provinces. He was trained to be a religious extremist and his family encouraged this. In the beginning, he would challenge anyone to fight, even to the point where he challenged me!

Later on, when he started to learn Tong-il Moo-do and became familiar with the philosophy of martial arts, he changed dramatically. He challenged his family members to be people of peace and reject their extremist ways. Now he has become one of our full-time instructors in one of the schools. He is also one of the most active members of the Young Ambassadors for Peace. Every day, it is a challenge for him to keep a peaceful mind. With the support of our members, he is becoming a true man of peace. He is rejecting his old ways of fighting and confronting people, which is so common among Afghan youth.

Growing friendships

At this point, we have about sixty students in four centers with five trained instructors. We have had two promotion tests and one mini-tournament. We are now raising funds for our first national training seminar this month. Fortunately, because of Mr. Angelucci's foundation with the National Olympic Committee, we have made a partnership with the National Ashihara Karate Foundation. The director of the Ashihara Foundation, Ahmad Wahid Joya, is a recognized karate teacher and has centers throughout Afghanistan. Mr. Joya was impressed with Tong-il Moo-do, especially its underlying philosophy, and would like to train all his instructors in this tradition. I am now training his instructors in Kabul with a plan to expand Tong-il Moo-do nationally with the help of his foundation.

At present, our headquarters is in Kabul in a partnership with the Ashihara Foundation, the Central Academy of Ashihara Karate and Tong-II Moo-Do Afghanistan.

I hope that while doing my mission here I can develop my talents and skills and find more financial resources, so that I can sustain both my mission and my family.

That is always a concern. In this way, I will be able to go to other countries to introduce Tong-il Moo-do and expand its global foundation. 

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