By Br. Junmar Cris Caputolan
Most of the beneficiaries who joined the youth camp did not know each other. Only a few of them had been acquainted with each other, whether as close kin or as neighbors. Within three days and a half of being together, they got comfortable with each other. Some formed bonds that one can only hope would last a lifetime. They went to the camp without a tinge of certainty as to what this would even mean for them. There was only one certainty though: in their minds and in their hearts, they knew that each one had a history, had wounds, that they came from wounded families, that they came from communities that did not deserve to be robbed of justice yet until now continues to seek it. Even just the desire to restore fidelity to the law of conscience was marred by distrust.
Some of them have seen first-hand how blood trickled to the ground, how a lifeless body covered with scarlet patches breathed its last. Others can still vividly hear cries of desperation, cries that echoed from the abyss of emptiness and loneliness, cries that call for help…
The Psycho-Spiritual Integration (PSI) program aims to contribute to a special kind of healing. These individuals have been victims of unwritten criminal conduct that only the soul cares to acknowledge as violent, as something that damages one’s well-being. Some of them have seen first-hand how blood trickled to the ground, how a lifeless body covered with scarlet patches breathed its last. Others can still vividly hear cries of desperation, cries that echoed from the abyss of emptiness and loneliness, cries that call for help, cries of surrender. They have heard whispers that put their families to shame, false accusations against their beloved, and words that were spewed by the side of the road, bereft of even a scintilla of evidence and truth. All these, collectively taken, had caused irreparable damage to them, leaving wounds that until now, have never turned into scars.
As sons and daughters, as brothers and sisters to the victims of a violent campaign, they bring hope to their families. Their own desires are what they brought with them to the camp. They were guided to discover themselves, their gifts, their strengths, their weaknesses, their limitations. To reach the dream of healing, their participation was required. All of them shared stories about themselves in small groups and in plenary, articulating their feelings, their thoughts, their learnings. These individuals are gifted and one can see their potentials come to the fore. If there is one thing their hearts wish to cry for, it would no longer be one of deep hurt but a cry of liberty, liberty from the oppression being inflicted by their fellow countrymen.
They may not have fully found the justice they have been seeking, but Program Paghilom tries to pave the way for the experience of liberty within, a liberty that heals. As the camp ended, I was moved by the song rendition of two individuals. I bet they just love the song. They probably didn’t intend to sing it for the purpose of the culmination activity, at the camp’s closing. They shared their gifts because they felt encouraged to. Yet the lyrics of the songs kept resounding again and again in my ears, words like “Natutong lumipad kahit pagod at sugatan” (from the song “Balang Araw” of the band I Belong to the Zoo) and “Ang bawat piyesa na bumubuo” (from the song “Bawat Piyesa” of the group MuniMuni) are words that capture Program Paghilom’s wishes for them.
To learn to fly even while wounded is the goal of the PSI. To pick up the pieces of the self and to put them back together again, slowly but steadily is the dream of the Program for them.
Encountering people through their stories has become an encounter with life itself, with reality itself. To encounter the broken reality of these people is encountering the brokenness of humanity and my own brokenness. With this brokenness, the face of God is concretely palpable, He who made Himself broken to restore us in grace, in love. ∎