College of the Holy Spirit of Manila has been an advocate of Human Rights for many decades now and this annual observance of the International Human Rights Day is a concrete manifestation of such commitment. This year’s theme, “Speak Up – Stop Discrimination” centered on non- discrimination as “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity,” as stated in the UDHR. The Community Involvement and Human Rights Month is celebrated every December to reaffirm the school’s commitment to human rights and justice.
An exhibit on the present human rights situation was mounted from December 9-11 to raise the CHSians’ social awareness, and impel them to action. On December 10 at 4:00 pm during the global observance of the Human Rights Day, CHSians gathered for an afternoon of reflection and prayer. There were testimonies on the people’s continuing struggle for human rights given by Dr. Edita Burgos, Chairperson of Desaparecidos and mother of Jonas Burgos, one of the victims of enforced disappearance, Mrs. Ofel Balleta, mother of Jane, one of the “Morong 43” and Mr. Alwyn Alburo, Vice Chairman of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and Senior Desk Editor of GMA News and Public Affairs. It was followed by a Eucharistic celebration with Rev. Fr. Joey Evangelista, MJ as the Presider. Inspired by the gospel of Luke, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord!,” his homily centered on the present human rights situation in the Philippines and the call for Christians to be the prophets of today—ordinary vigilant people who courageously respond to the cries of the world for compassion, justice and freedom.
As a closing rite, a candle lighting ceremony was done to pay tribute to the martyrs and human rights defenders who selflessly offered their lives for the cause of justice and human rights. The participants left with a hopeful prayer that the Lord of Advent will lead them through until the oppression and exploitation of the struggling masses and God’s Anawim will be put to an end.Felicitas Vito Coordinator of Student Ministries and Office of Social Concerns