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  •  The Beauty of Taal Volcano

    Friday, Oct. 12, 2012

    This past weekend Casa Bayanihan students and staff took a day trip to hike Taal Volcano, just an hour and a half drive outside of Manila. The day's adventures took us to the lake shore town of Talisay, where we took a relaxing boat ride out to Taal Volcano. We then began the 45 minute hike, enjoying the lush views of the surrounding ridges and the lake on the way. Upon reaching the peak, the view of the sulfuric lake, Crater Lake, inside the volcano was stunning. The beauty of nature in the Philippines was both serene and rejuvenating for all of us, and we left feeling inspired to keep seeking out all that the Philippines has to offer!

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  •  Some Thoughts from the Philippines

    Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012

    "I have no grammatically correct sentences that can adequately portray the feelings, experiences or insights I’ve brought back with me from Calatagan. All I have is awe. Awe for the fishermen who go out to sea early in the morning, awe for the women who go out to the market to sell, awe for the children who constantly carry with them the hospitality and love of their parents and awe for the entire province for their trust and loyalty with one another. "

    -Amber Cavarlez, USF

    "There was something very peculiar about the energy of Calatagan that reminded me of my father, so I wrote this poem the last day I was there. After having lost my father five years ago, it was refreshing to know that his presence still remained in what I encountered in this very special and sacred place."

    I will remember the rain.

    I will remember the ways in which it poured down, washing away my tears

    and reminding me that my father is still here.

    There is something sacred about this place.

    My father's spirit dwells with me here.

    In the dancing of the tree branches in the wind,

    in the gentleness of the ocean waves in the shallow,

    in the drops of rain that fall-sometimes light,

    sometimes powerfully falling down, fleeting.

    In the love that is shared, through the spirit that is Angel.

    When I look out at this beauty I imagine myself

    seeing through his eyes.

    I will remember the rain.

    -Jules Peithman, UC Santa Cruz

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  •  Celebrating Life

    Tuesday, Sep. 25, 2012
    Last Sunday, the same weekend that I spent in Las Nubes, I hiked down the mountain with Elsa a little before 7:00 and I went straight to El Pueblo de Dios en Camino. This day was the day that the community was going to celebrate the life of Carlos Acevedo (the catechist that was martyred) as well as the lives lost in the Mudslide of Montebello. Since I arrived so early, I began my day by helping Anita with some last minute things that had to get done- setting up chairs, sweeping, getting supplies ready, etc. Around 8:30, we took some large photos of some martyrs, some crosses, and some signs to the Ermita. If you recall, this is where the discovered bodies were laid out during the mudslide for family members to come and claim. As people arrived, we distributed flowers and signs with scripture verses on them. All in all, there were well over 100 people that came to share in this special service! Around 9:30, we all began a procession through the streets of San Ramon. This was a super chivo experience for me. The young and old alike were walking through the streets of San Ramon singing songs of liberation together. A large wooden cross led the procession, followed by huge pictures of some martyrs that were particularly close to the community. I was asked to help to carry the picture of Silvia, one of the martys that Anita knew very well- I was definitely humbled. As we walked through the street singing together (well, I was listening) we also shouted out chants. So somebody would scream out “Viva _____ (martyrs, victims of the mudslide, Monsenor Romero, Christian Base Communities, etc)” And we would all respond “Que Viva!” Which means, in a sense, “Long Live the King!” Or in our case, the presence of those are still with us. This was just a really cool experience of solidarity with the Salvadorians.
     

    Finally, we arrived at a large park. This park is made of the dirt mound leftover from the mudslide. So essentially, the earth that we were standing on was once part of the upper volcano and had caused many deaths. While nobody can confirm it, the park is also a sort of mass grave, since it was never formally overturned to ensure that no body parts were left. So we were really standing on holy ground, with a cross to commemorate the event. Here, we (over 100 of us) had a worship service. We sang songs, learned about Carlos Acevedo and the Mudslide of Montebello, and had communion together. Several youth from the community shared the sermon with us. At one point while we were singing a solemn song, the youth spread hundreds of rose petals all around us in the park. To me, these red petals among the dry, brown ground signified so many lives lost- a solemn occasion indeed. All is all, it was an incredible experience. But perhaps the most exciting part of it was that they used pan dulce for communion. Pan dulce is essentially any type of bread that is sweet- cookies, pastries, etc. I’m convinced that if churches in America gave out cookies instead of cardboard wafers for communion, all of our churches would be packed!

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  •  Here from SLU Alum

    Thursday, Sep. 13, 2012
    Dear SLU students,
     
    Hello and greetings from the Philippines! As a SLU graduate and a current Community Coordinator with Casa Bayanihan, I'm extending a warm invitation to consider studying with us in the Philippines! Living and working in the Philippines has already been a rich experience of cultural surprises, hospitable welcomes into the Filipino communities, and continued questions of how to respond to the realities we see around us. If you too have felt a similar tug to further immerse yourself in the diversities of a new culture as I did, then I encourage you to simply pay attention to it. As you consider what a semester in the Philippines may mean for you, please know that the Casa Bayanihan staff and praxis communities are all ready to welcome you warmly into our community here. Together we share a lot of energy around creating an experience that challenges students in the right ways and always supports them individually and communally. During my short amount of time here in the Philippines, I'm already discovering a culture that celebrates life deeply, even in the midst of harsh realities. It's the kind of daily life that's hard not to want to share with others. So, please know that we'd love to share life with you here in the Philippines! Feel free to contact me with any follow up questions, as I'm happy to accompany you through your discernment of studying with the Casa. 
     
    Salamat!
     
    Sarah Young
     
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  •  Here from Marquette Alum

    Thursday, Sep. 13, 2012

    Dear Marquette Students,

    Greetings from the Philippines! I am a 2011 graduate of Marquette University, and in my time at MU I had the great privilege of studying abroad with the Casa Educational Network.

    For the past year and a half, I have been working with the Casa staff—moving from El Salvador to my current life and job in the Philippines. I wanted to reach out to you as Marquette students to tell you about the wonderful opportunity to study abroad in this unique and remarkable program, Casa Bayanihan.

    Casa Bayanihan is a cultural immersion into the beautiful, gritty reality of life in the Philippines. It is a chance to experience a new culture, live in an intentional and holistic community, stretch your mind beyond boundaries and borders, and learn more about how we all fit into this mysterious and, at times, challenging, world. I invite you to come to the casa. To experience the joy, the reality, the Philippines. If you want to learn more or APPLY, please visit the program site: (http://www.scu.edu/casa/bayanihan/) OR our new Casa Bayanihan tumblr page (http://casabayanihan.tumblr.com/). Pictures, videos and real life experiences tell the story much better than I could on my own!

    Gratitude and Peace,

    Sullivan Oakley

    Marquette University, 2011

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  •  Casa co-director is visiting Marquette University!

    Wednesday, Sep. 5, 2012

    If you are in Milwaukee or have some friends there, please, spread the word!!

    Kevin Yonkers-Talz, co-director of Casa de la Solidaridad is promoting Casa Programs!

    Please, join to us in some activities:

    Thursday, September 6th, 2012
    4:00pm Information Session for Casa programs, @ Holthusen Hall (4th Floor).
    6:00pm Alumni Dinner @ Riverfront Pizzeria Bar & Grill (509 E Erie St Milwaukee, WI 53201).

    Friday, September 7th, 2012
    12:00m-2:00pm Study Abroad Fair @ West Towne Square, AMU.


    Feel free to share this information with friends, MU students, other Casa alumni or Faculty!

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