From Sacred Springs to Via Dolorosa | Inquirer Opinion
Human Face

From Sacred Springs to Via Dolorosa

With the political venom and a heightened level of toxicity fouling the air nowadays, it is indeed a treat to find one’s self immersing vicariously in a hidden oasis that is soon to be, cooling one’s soul in the promised freshness it hopes to offer in challenging times ahead. May it be.

Sacred Springs, Dialogue Institute of Spirituality and Sustainability was launched last week at the Jesuit-run Ateneo University’s Loyola School of Theology (LST) headed by Fr. Jose Quilongquilong, SJ. It is meant to assist the LST in its “mission of theological formation and reflection and formation, geared toward bringing justice to the poor and healing to sacred earth.”


It is called Sacred Springs because it draws from the collective wisdom of diverse communities with rich cultures and deep faith, who have a common concern for safeguarding and sustaining the precious resources of the earth.

Pope Francis’ “Laudato Si,” an encyclical on “care for our common home,” serves as an inspiration for Sacred Springs, in particular a line in Chapter 2, The Gospel of Creation, article 63: “If we are truly concerned to develop an ecology capable of remedying the damage we have done, no branch of the sciences and no form of wisdom can be left out, and that includes the religious and the idiom proper to it.”


And so it was but fitting that the launch of Sacred Springs began at the Laudato Si Terrain (Garden of Spirituality and Sustainability) at the back of the LST building overlooking the valley. Led by Edna Zapanta-Manlapaz, the rites began in the pocket Zen garden which is Sacred Springs’ own addition to this meditation area that celebrates the major figures in the history of Western Christian spirituality. (More on this leafy terrain at another time in a separate article with photographs.)

The event lasted the whole day, with one set of attendees in the morning and another in the afternoon that was highlighted by interfaith rites. In between were three separate mini-book launchings: “Creation is Spirited and Sacred: An Asian Indigenous Mysticism of Sacred Sustainability” by Fr. Jojo Fung, SJ (dressed like a shaman), Sacred Springs executive director; “Nabighani: Mga Saling Tula ng Kapwa Nilikha” by Fr. Albert E. Alejo, SJ (of the “Sanayan lang ang pagpatay” poem fame), Sacred Springs chair; and “Breath of a Stone God: A Journey of Awakening in Faith to Interfaith Dialogue” by Marites Guingona-Africa, a member of the board. Assumption College president Dr. Carmen “Pinky” Valdes introduced Fung’s book.

Others in the board are Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, Cielito Habito, Alan Cajes, Ruben Habito, Honeybee Hubahib, Edna Zapanta-Manlapaz and Carissa Singson.

Yes, the Singsons’ Field of Faith, a 4-hectare garden sanctuary in Laguna, is now an affiliate site of Sacred Springs. I have been there twice. Behold faith, art and nature embracing.

Among Sacred Springs’ programs is the Sacred Circle of Spirituality and Sustainability that aims to deepen the students’ “experience of God who suffuses, sacralizes, sensitizes and sustains nature.” The experience should enable participants to grow “in the sacred web of interdependent interrelations with the Divine Creative Spirit (Ruach Elohim), self, neighbor, the poor and creation.” Figure that out.

The gathering was not without its light moments, what with the irreverent pronouncements of former Jesuit superior general (they are not called the “Black Pope” for nothing) Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, SJ, a Spaniard, who has chosen to retire in the Philippines. (Quoth he: “Rome cannot be helped.”) Pope Francis is a Jesuit.

I say: Sacred Springs deserves support and bears watching and participating in its growth.


From spring waters to Via Dolorosa. The next day I waded into the second most populous area, next to Tondo, in the Manila archdiocese. I will not mention names and places now. But what does one say to a mother whose two sons and a brother were shot dead in one fell swoop in their home in a police “tokhang” operation? I listened. And listened to several more.

“Tok-Bang!” was more like it, a nun solemnly told me. I met the church women volunteers, fearful but committed. I saw the footsteps of the Good Shepherd in the alleyways.

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