Youth from the the Apu Palamguwan Cultural Education Center (APC) and Balay Laudato Si’ with the River above Asia Oceania Ecclesial Network (RAOEN) gathered together on 5 October in Bendum to launch Living Laudato Si’: The Synodal Journey of the Pulangiyēn Youth, a booklet that celebrates the youth’s journey in discovering hope, love, and faith amid the contemporary challenges they face, and their dreams for their community and culture.
APC Grade 12 students and staff were joined online by previous APC staff who accompanied the youth, network partners, and other colleagues. “This is the story of how the youth are learning to listen to self, to others, and to God as they engage life,” Pedro Walpole SJ, APC Executive Director and RAOEN Coordinator, shared in his opening remarks.
Three young speakers joined the launch and shared their testimonies and reflections on their synodal journey, and how this led to a deeper appreciation of their identities and relations with the gaup or ancestral domain.
Karen Ampildon, Coordinator of Balay Laudato Si’, shared how her synodal journey helped her realize her identity as an indigenous youth and her relationship with Creation. She also shared some of the challenges in her life, and how she perseveres to take action for the community. “It is a challenge to live a simple life and relate with our ancestors. It is challenging for me to understand what it is served on the table when I eat. It is also challenging to engage [my fellow] youth in socio-cultural and ecological concerns, yet this is what I want to do in my life,” Karen stated.
Jason Menaling, Coordinator of the Forest, Farm, and Leadership in the Margins (FFLM) unit of APC, described how his journey with the youth helped deepen his relationship with nature amid the realities of living in an upland community in the margins, emphasizing how caring for the ancestral land enables them to dream. “We know we [the indigenous] have a responsibility to care for Creation. But we need the help of every individual,” Jason said. “It is important to listen, understand, and learn about our situation to make good decisions and to see the continuation of our dreams for the next generations.”
Gera Jean Lipanda, a Grade 12 student at the APC school and who previously joined and participated in Laudato Si’ workshops, shared how her perspectives in life changed and how this helped her realize the deep connection between their identity as Indigenous People and the natural environment. “It is hard for us to do simple things together such as caring for the trees in the gaup. But we need to find the courage to keep trying.”
The journey that the youth shared also relates to the ongoing synodal journey the Church is undertaking to listen to the voices in the margins. The effort is to share with the Church the voices of the youth as they continue to act and dream for their community and life.
As echoed by Sue Martin, Assistant Coordinator of the Reconciliation with Creation ministry of JCAP and the event’s moderator, “our hope as we launch this publication is to encourage an answer from the Church that, yes, we are listening to the youth and we are listening to the margins.”