IEC delegates from Basilan: Danger not hindrance to practice faith

(The Freeman) - January 29, 2016 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - While Catholicism is not a predominant religion in Basilan, a number of delegates for the International Eucharistic Congress came all the way from the province to prove that nothing, even danger, can stop them from practicing their faith.

Winn-love Jayson, 34, a youth coordinator of Prelature of Isabela de Basilan in Tumahubong, Sumisip Basilan, shared how life is living as a Christian in a warzone area.

“Everyday, mobiyahe ka og 20 ka barangay.  Unya naay adlaw nga ila rang pahunongan ang sakyanan unya mamusil ra sila og kalit,” Jayson shared as he attended the IEC Youth Day 2016.

The island of Basilan, composed of 12 municipalities, has three Christian communities. Jayson lives in one of the communities, where their parish is also located, and is surrounded with a Muslim neighborhood.

“Kung nana ka sulod sa among lugar, maglisod naka og gawas kay mahibaw-an nila kung dili ka Muslim tungod sa language,” said Jayson.

But despite the risk, Jayson does not want to leave Basilan because he can see how Christians strengthen their faith as days pass by.

“Ang naka nindot lang dira, even though dangerous kaayo ang area, pero ang faith sa mga Kristiyano, nagtubo, nagtubo, ug nagtubo,” Jayson said.

“Maski madunggan nimo sa news nga naay gipamatay, bisan gi bombahan na ang uban lugar, wa gyuy Kristiyano nga mihawa sa Basilan. Nagkatubo gihapon ang faith nila kay diha nakita sa mga Kristiyano ang level sa ilang pagtuo,” he added.

On the other hand, Shiela May Calixto, 29, a youth ministry staff member at a diocese in Isabela City, Basilan, shared how Christians live a harmonious life with the Muslim community.

“Sa lugar namin, kahit dominant yung Muslim, masaya naman kasi malakas doon ang inter-religious dialogue,” Calixto said, explaining that while some areas in Basilan may be dangerous, the problem is not due to religion.

“Hindi naman talaga sa religion yan, mapa Muslim or Christian or ano, meron talagang mga tao na makikitid ang utak.” Calixto said.

Calixto said this is one of the reasons why she attended the IEC Youth Day- to show the people that Catholicism still exists in their place.

“Our presence — malaking impact na ito na masasabi nila na ‘ay, hindi pala ganito sa Basilan, may Kristiyano pala doon,” she said.

“We want to grab this opportunity because we want to be a part of the history as well. Minsan lang na mangyari na may IEC Youth Day.” she added

During the IEC Youth Day 2016, Jayson personally prayed for peace while Calixto hopes that the youth have a joyful experience, just like she did.

“Prayer lang jud nako nga nay paglambo ug kalinaw na mahitabo dili lang sa Basilan, sa tibuok kalibutan sad,” Jayson said.

“For the young people, through this event, sana ma i-experience din nila ang kasiyahan na-experience ko. Hopefully, yan ang magiging way na mas lalo pa silang maging active sa youth ministry,” Calixto said. (FREEMAN)


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