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World March Blog
9 October 2009

Philippines, 6-7 October: 120,000 steps, 81 km, Manila and Lucena

The more we move forward in our adventure, the less words I have… and it’s hard to tell. And yet, I have to transcribe these such-strong emotions that we have just experienced to feel connected with you…

Our welcome in Manila was just incredible. Upon our arrival at the airport, a wonderful welcoming committee awaited us with open arms. We took a bus that had been reserved for us and we were escorted by motorcycles and vehicles of the Manila police force, opening the way. Our World March flags banners fluttered proudly in the windows. We arrived at a small hotel, received in person by the police chief of Manila. We made progress with the comfort of our sleeping accommodation: sleeping 2 per room. This is a change from recent days when we were 17 people sleeping in the same room!

The next morning, we were received with great fanfare, so to speak, by the Mayor of the city of Manila in person. One by one, the officials presented us with a shell necklace around our necks. The Mayor officially presented the Keys of the City to Rafael de la Rubia as a sign of their support for the World March. The delegation of marchers and the authorities laid a wreath on behalf of peace and nonviolence at the foot of a monument to peace.

At 10am, we were expected at a university where a show had been organized for us. And what a show! Philippine folk dances of great beauty. Hundreds of students in uniform, under the shade, listening to our testimony and our words with kindness. We had lunch with the director of the school who we left at 1pm to reach the starting point of the peace march in downtown Manila. More than 1,000 schoolchildren welcomed us with lots of flags and banners. The most breathtaking was the participation of fifty unarmed military (so to speak) wearing T-shirts bearing the logo of the World March and a banner on which was written ‘The Army supports the World March for Peace”! Unbelievable but true! (See the video from my favourite cameraman, Alvaro). It’s very moving.

We walked a few miles, always escorted by the police to facilitate our movement in the heart of the capital. The walk took us to a large sports centre where the crowd was invited to a multicultural show in honour of the World March. The stadium was full and the cheers of young students came from all sides. Between techno and traditional dances, the audience went wild. Us too! The most beautiful? Our dance group with members of the Philippine Army, grandmothers with generous curves and traditional dress and the audience of young schoolchildren with which we performed the famous “Mexican wave“. We were living a moment of complete spontaneity, a moment of intensity, of a rare fraternity. Then we were invited to go on stage and introduce ourselves one by one. The screams of the young audience was worthy of Juventus fans! This affected us as it disturbed us a little. We are not used to receiving rockstar treatment!

Already this first day was a gift. And we did not expect at all that the next day the most unforgettable surprise would be waiting for us… that is in Lucena in southern Philippines.

We were up at 3:30 in the morning. The mood still foggy, we went reluctantly into our mini-bus. Geez, why do they make us get up so early? We followed this regime for 10 days and we were cruelly lacking sleep…

Tonight, as I write this, I promise never again to complain in anticipation of a day about which I know nothing. Because October 7, 2010, for me, for us, was a miracle. I just experienced a state of rapture for at least one hour. … What’s a state of rapture? It is a moment of communion with 12,000 children and adolescents in the city of Lucena who have achieved the greatest symbol of peace in the world in a sports stadium! Despite the typhoons and natural disasters that had made the area a disaster zone, they had rehearsed for a week of painstaking and delicate process to make this famous symbol of peace.

Our entire team was moved to tears and the energy of love and hope was so intense that my heart was beating like a cuckoo clock.

We first set off on a march of several miles with citizens of the town of Lucena, patiently recorded by Gerard, our beloved photographer from France. Although he recorded 700 walkers in the parade, it was very much a surprise when we entered the stadium, face-to-face with 11,000 people waving millions of small orange flags!

I’ve never had as strong an experience in my life. I filmed through sobs of tears. Then several of us took the microphone. I addressed this audience full of enthusiasm, freshness and youth to tell them that “it is such moments that transform the energy of humanity and that their action lights a candle on Earth”. Then we lit the flame of peace before taking a walkabout as never before! Children in their thousands came to ask to be photographed with us and we were offered hundreds of flags that we didn’t know what to do with!

The Philippine organizers, members of the humanist movement, worked for 1 year and half to receive the World March delegation here. Besides this huge symbol for peace, we were also received with great fanfare by the Mayor of Manila who gave us the keys to the City and at the City University where a folklore show was performed in our honour. Three days of madness, pure beauty and total success for the World March. “Our work has made a giant leap here,” confided last night Rafa de la Rubia, our “boss” during our daily meeting. He himself had met with parliamentarians during the day and several agreements were signed at a political level to undertake a campaign called “zero violence” in the provinces most sensitive in the Philippines which is still beset by tensions and various forms of violence. Our work is a reality every day and I feel humbled by the unfailing commitment of my fellow human beings on the other side of the planet. 

Le plus grand signe de paix jamais réalisé, 12'000 étudiants!

Spécial Show en l'honneur de la Marche mondiale
Spécial Show en l’honneur de la Marche mondiale

Isabelle Bourgeois (Suisse)

8 comments to Philippines, 6-7 October: 120,000 steps, 81 km, Manila and Lucena

  • Greetings to the base team and thanks for this incredible adventure! Wish all members of the team a lot of power and peace, force and joy!

  • Carlos del Pozo

    Queridos amigos mis felicitaciones, comparto la emoción día a día con vuestros pasos por el mundo y vuelo hasta vosotros. Espero que cumplais los horarios de sueño razonables y os encontreis fuertes y contentos. Un fuerte abrazo para todo el equipo.

    Con todo mi afecto, carlos.

  • Elena

    Beautiful video, Isabelle, you are doing a great job of transforming your emotions into these movies!

    Take care and big hugs from Spain,

  • Natacha Mota

    Un saludo fraterno a todos los participantes en el Equipo Base, que os vaya muy bien todo!
    Abrazo a Alvaro Oruz y Fulvio!

  • Gloria

    Sois muy valientes.
    Es increible como estan movilizando al mundo entero.
    Por que sois personas comun y corriente llevando un mensaje universal. PAZ NO VIOLENCIA.
    Que Dios los bendiga.

  • Thank you, Isabelle, for sharing your experience at Lucena! I eagerly await more status reports from you on the World March.

  • claudie

    Wouah !!! Isabelle, merci de nous partager cet enthousiasme, ce vécu, ce moment de grâce !! Tu sais quoi ? j’ai pleuré en voyant la vidéo et ce stade rempli de milliers de porteurs d’espoir !!
    On vous suit pas à pas si j’ose dire, tous les jours on vient voir les nouvelles : vos images nous transportent, vos mots nous enchantent…

    partout ailleurs, des centaines d’actes, de rassemblements, de concerts, de conférences… et des diffuseurs de flyers partout la planète, en train de dire et redire l’importance de la non-violence !!

    Nous sommes tous ensembles dans cette grande vague, on vous suit, on vous aime et on compte sur vous.

  • gerald

    BBG>>GeRaLd<< nC poH ahihi….