Jesuit Communications Foundation’s (JesCom) newest publication, COURAGE!, made its successful launch before a gathering of esteemed educators, public servants, social workers, and peacekeepers last May 22, Tuesday at the Ben Chan Art Suite, Arete, Ateneo de Manila University.
Dubbed as “A Celebration of Courage”, the event marked the public debut of the latest book written by the distinguished professor, international peace worker and 1987 Constitutional framer Ed Garcia. Inspired by his poignant encounter with a Columbian revolutionary leader in 1980, Garcia shared his rallying message of unwavering hope and the rousing conviction that indeed, “Dawn comes even after darkest night”.
Faced with the current challenges of fake news, partisanship and radical political beliefs that have deeply divided the Filipino, Garcia remained steadfast in his belief that his countrymen still proudly carry the virtue of courage.
“Today, courage is made real by our people…who have sent messages about the meaning and importance of courage in their lives, and countless others in the streets of our cities and the paths in our towns and barrios who remain nameless. Yes, courage is well and alive in our country. Indeed, courage is a verb, and the noun is the Filipino.”
Accompanying Garcia onstage was a select group of reactors from the academe, public service and social work, all contributing their own messages and personal stories on the compelling power of COURAGE!.
Renowned professor, poet, and literary critic Jimmy Abad captivated the gallery with his stirring delivery of the poem “From Rage to Courage,” where he artistically recounts the Filipino’s rich heritage as keepers of peace and justice.
“To remember and to sing” is our calling; Our people’s cry shall yet resound, “Never again!” A country is only as strong as her people’s memory.”
Professor Benjie Tolosa, of the Ateneo de Manila University Department of Political Science and Associate Dean for the Core Curriculum, spoke of the serendipitous launching date of COURAGE! and its great potential to “change hearts… change situations – even the most unimaginable ones.”
“It is kairos, an opportune, grace-filled moment that we are launching Courage! two days after Pentecost Sunday… Pope Francis said that “[the Spirit] changes hearts… It does not free us from the weight of our problems, but liberates us [from] within so that we can face them…”
Marco P. Gutang, President of the Angel C. Palanca Peace Program Foundation, Inc., shared how COURAGE! serves as his “ ‘gas tank’ for inspiration” and motivation “to keep going in doing peace education work”. Atty. Erin Tañada recalled his own childhood memories of Garcia, fighting side by side with his late grandfather, Senator Lorenzo Tañada, in their brave stand during the Marcos dictatorship.
Sister Patricia Fox, Regional Coordinator of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion, talked about how COURAGE! directly touches on her recent work as part of an international peace keeping mission dedicated to the Martial Law victims in Mindanao, as well as the marginalized and displaced indigenous lumads.
“We are a people of hope. Even though darkness is there, we will overcome because we believe that Jesus is alive, the Spirit is alive and active. We Christians can show this through our actions, through being with people, struggling with them, continuing on for them- and this is the challenge of this book.”
Vice-President Leni Robredo, Senator Leila M. De Lima, and Joren Sereno, son of deposed Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, all expressed their messages of support, encouragement, and praise for COURAGE! through their representatives.
Prior to giving the final blessing, Bishop Ambo David, Bishop of the Diocese of Kalookan read the official statements of the Archbishop of Tuguegarao and the Bishop of Kalookan, in response to the President’s public accusations against the murdered priest, Fr. Mark Ventura.
Providing both welcome and closing remarks was JesCom Executive Director Fr.Emmanuel Alfonso, SJ, where he gladly shared his opportune and inspirational encounters with Garcia. Delighting the audience with his soulful opening prayer “Lord Grant Me Courage” and own rendition of the EDSA Revolution classic “Handog ng Pilipino Sa Mundo” was JesCom sound engineer and acclaimed recording artist Toto Sorioso.
“Courage” is now available at all Tanging Yaman outlets. For inquiries on bulk orders, please call 426-5971 or 72 local 113. Like us on Facebook @ facebook.com/jescomph and follow us on Twitter @ JesComPH to get an exclusive look at the “Courage” book launch. Also find here the compiled proceedings of the Celebration of Courage launch.