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Cyril Ryan Alcala Lituañas-Manila, Philippines (English)

My name is Cyril Ryan Alcala Lituañas. I am 36 years old from Loay, Bohol, Philippines but migrated to the city of Manila for work  more than ten years ago now. I came from a big family of 14. I am the 9th of the 12 siblings, 8 of whom are based in Bohol together with my parents. Two are living and working abroad, and two are based in other provinces. My family runs a small business in town.

Since my involvement with the youth ministry back in Bohol more than 15 years ago, I worked with the young of different ages. Currently, I am engaged as coordinator for community building and faith formation programs of the Lasallian Pastoral Office at De La Salle University in Manila. My work practically brings me to engage with different kinds of people in the university, mainly student leaders of diverse backgrounds. Much of my time is spent with students through consultations, meetings, organizing, implementing and evaluating programs. My ministry would not be complete without a space of accompaniment with them. It is one of my passions that makes my work more meaningful. My office, together with my director and another ten members from various areas of expertise, create opportunities to interact with the Lasallian community at different levels through worship, formation, community building and research. This kind of work demands much interaction time and engagement with people from various stakeholder positions in the university. I spend some time being alone in silence in the garden of the school or the chapel. Sometimes, biking or going to the gym can help me digest the events of my day.

Aware of what is happening in my reality, I am easily disturbed by some violent situations that confront me. As a community builder, I am always called to build bridges between and among peoples in the university. Working with people entails skills of active listening, reflecting and discerning, and acting and responding to their needs. Moreover, working in a complex and colossal institution and organization, leads me to consider what is best for all. As far as my work and involvement are concerned, I integrate peacebuilding activities in my field of work. I organize community building activities which are basically peace programs in nature to the Muslim, Buddhist, Non-Catholic, and even Foreign and Chinese or Filipino-Chinese communities the whole year round. This is, in a way, my niche of building bridges and peace. As it is vast and dynamic, I organized Basic Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) within my colleagues, at the university level, and am trying to expand the program to the nearby college. Plans and logistical preparations are quite tough as we do these projects, however what is more important working in this field is the practice of being a person of peace. To practice a nonviolent approach in this area of work is perhaps a challenge in my everyday life. It calls me always to discern what is best for the group. There may be a lot of conflicting ideas in organizing and running the programs, or challenges such as cultural differences, backgrounds, and religion, however there is always a call on my end to create peace and harmonious relationship between these structures and agencies.

Building a community for me is about friendship. I understand that the process of creating a community starts when I relate, interact and make friends. I believe I win friendship among young people, colleagues and in other networks because of the idea that I value and respect them as who they are. I may be influential in some ways to my circles of friends, but I give them high value and respect for who they are. I pay attention to some of their concerns or needs. I interact with them, which is very essential to the youth and students. I provide them a space at home when needed. I go out with them. I play, celebrate, dine, and drink with them in moderation. This is my way of giving them importance as friends. In this manner, I am building space to interact and understand each other better.

My life as community builder and leader follows the principle that everything in this world is created for each other. My family, circles of friends and colleagues at work, students, youth, work, engagement with other good initiatives, and initiatives created by people with good intentions, even realities around make me believe and hopeful that life on earth is worth living. With all these things that give meaning to my life, I am ushered into a more  a comfortable and affirmed life. This is most important above all as a human being: to be in touch with my true self while engaging and interacting with the world. Everything becomes meaningless when all efforts are not sincere and coming from within. We know, and I know that across the world, there so many things to do and a lot of people are working for peace and doing a great job for the good of the others. However, I am compelled that the strongest initiative to make our world a better place to live in is learning to make peace within myself. When this is established, I can easily make peace and work for the good of the others or another.