APO-TGP Joint Project 2007

Handog Kapatiran

(Vic DeLeon, Epsilon Psi 82A)

Handog Kapatiran (translated, Fraternal Offering) - a joint service project of Alpha Phi Omega District of Columbia Alumni Association (APODCAA) and Tau Gamma Phi of the Mid-Atlantic Region (TGPMAR) in partnership with The World Bank-IMF Filipino Staff Association and The Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines was held on November 3, 2007 in Prince Georges County Maryland.   

Move over Willy Revillame, Cultural Attaché Rico Fos upon retirement will take over the show “Wowowee.” His overflowing energy and able stewardship of the evening’s festivities truly ignited the spirit of Friendship amongst those who were present, both teachers and volunteers alike. Fantastic job Rico!

Due credit also goes to the Philippine embassy staff along with the WB-IMF Filipino Staff Association led by their president Solita Wakefield as these contingent of volunteers cheerfully welcomed the migrant teachers from the Philippines.  Over eighty of them were treated to a sumptuous early Thanksgiving Dinner along with winter clothes and other household wares.  Little did they know, they stood to witness the dawning of a new era as members of APODCAA and TGPMAR laid the foundation towards peace.

APODCAA exchanged peace offerings with Tau Gamma Phi.  To commemorate this occasion, members of these once fierce rival fraternities, Alpha Phi Omega and Tau Gamma Phi, joined hands to welcome these new migrant teachers at the home of Marco Venida in Prince Georges County.  A new era has dawned, indeed.  This marks a new beginning for the two fraternities as each strives to promote better understanding and mutual respect towards one another.   

Over three decades of fierce encounters between these rival fraternities often resulted in needless loss of life from both parties and lasting bitterness aimed against each other.  This long history of hatred most assuredly contributed to the destruction of bright and promising future of untold number of youths.  Countless parents who sacrificed to send their children to college agonized over the loss of their loved ones.  Many more had to leave college in order to survive thus abandoning what was once a promising future.  Untold number of lives drastically changed and affected in the worst possible ways.  

Strike after counter-strike continues to this day seemingly with no end in sight.  Alas, courageous members of APODCAA and TGPMAR from the local area saw an opportunity to change this violent culture [of the past].  APODCAA President Ding Gomez with the sage counsel from past president Mody Olympia worked tirelessly with Dale Aguirre, Alan Uyenco, Eric Talavera, and the gracious host – Marco Venida - to take advantage of this opportunity to jointly welcome the newly-arrived teachers from the Philippines .  Both parties hope this joint Service project will help pave the way towards better understanding of each other, but more importantly, lead to mutual respect and lasting peace.  

Each party, however, recognizes the difficulties that lie ahead.  Undoubtedly, many are skeptical about this joint project from both sides of the aisle.  Fortunately, APODCAA members and, almost assuredly, TGPMAR members in the local area have come to realize that violence only begets violence; hence, this dire need to take this very important and historic opportunity to step-up to the plate [so to speak] to work diligently towards lasting peace.  As the saying goes, “Rome was not built in one day.”  Each recognizes the need to take concrete steps, no matter how small they may appear.

Mother Theresa once said, “Do small things with great love.” This simple but powerful phrase symbolizes the efforts undertaken by APODCAA and TGP of the Mid-Atlantic Region members. Perhaps these comments best illustrate our hope that APO and TGP have indeed planted the ‘Seed of Peace.’ “If I was your teacher, I would be proud to have you as my students.” “Never could I have imagined members of Alpha Phi Omega and Tau Gamma Phi together in the same room, much less working hand-in-hand to serve their fellowmen – in this case, we, the teachers from your homeland.” [University of the East professor, 1976]

The prayer below was written to capture the evening’s essence as well as to serve as the guidepost to steer the two fraternities’ activities towards reaching their goal: To promote mutual respect and understanding and to establish a lasting peace.  
Praise and Glory be to you O Heavenly Father!  We give you thanks for giving us the opportunity to be your humble servants this evening as we welcome the newly-arrived teachers from our native land.  We ask that You grant these teachers the courage and strength to face the challenge of adjusting to a new environment, the wisdom to impart to their students, and perseverance to build new relationships in the community.  As we work towards helping to enrich the lives of our “kababayan” teachers, we beseech you Heavenly Father to send us the Holy Spirit that we may learn to embrace each other as brothers in Christ.  May this occasion serve as the catalyst to open our hearts (as we seek your blessings) to grant us the courage to embark on this uncharted path towards peace between our fraternities.  Grant us the wisdom to guide our youths in their quest towards a better future.  Bless each and every one of us that our efforts may lead to lasting peace and understanding, not only between our fraternities, but also with others as well.  May You bless us to bravely labor to bring Glory to Your Holy Name.  We ask this in the name of Your Beloved Son, our Dear Lord Jesus Christ.  AMEN!

Photos contributed by TGP, Rhadee, Mody, Tita Fely
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