AMICUS volunteers celebrate global youth day in Metro Manila park

On March 15, 2014, the country's premiere national park became the site of one of the more than 100 acts of kindness conducted by Seventh-day Adventist youth through metro Manila.

Luneta Park, in the heart of the city of Manila, was one of the sites for the second annual Global Youth Day celebration of the Southern Asia Pacific Division. The event aimed to promote compassion as a lifestyle by encouraging youth to "be the sermon" via random acts of kindness throughout the city.

Representatives from AMICUS, an organization for Seventh-day Adventist youth studying in secular universities in the Philippines, distributed roses, bookmarks, and coupons to unsuspecting strangers strolling around the park. The bookmarks had the words, "God loves you," while the coupons bore positive statements and instructions to the recipient to pass the kind deed forward. The group prefaced the gifts with singing and an offer to pray for recipients.

The group also set up a Call and Text Booth in the middle of the park and invited people to contact their loved ones anywhere in the Philippines for free.

"We believe in the power of communication, and we want people to reach their loved ones. And because God's love is free, our service today is free as well," Raffy Hormaza, one of the youth leading out in the booth, said.

Powerful Message

Among the recipients of the group's act of kindness was Mang Noel, an 82-year old who frequents the park with friends and was touched by the attention from the AMICUS volunteers as they sang to and prayed for him. After receiving a rose from them at the end of the prayer, Noel kept repeating, "God bless you," as he immediately paid the good deed forward by giving each of the volunteers a brief arm massage. The smile on his face and the twinkle in his eyes expressed his gratitude profoundly.

A group of students working on a school project in the park were also treated to a serenade and prayer. When asked how they felt, the students responded enthusiastically.  "I didn't expect to receive a rose today (after the prayer) - I'm very touched,” commented one of the students. “Very few people do things like this nowadays," she added.

More blessed to give than receive

After they fulfilled their good deed quota for the day, it was no surprise that the people who benefited most from the event weren't the receivers, but the givers.

"I didn't join programs like this before because I felt shy, but today I experienced just how good showing compassion to strangers feels," observed Tristan Duaso, an AMICUS volunteer.

His fellow youth echoed his sentiments. One commented that "I used to think you can only show love and compassion to people you're in relationships with, but now I learned that giving love to strangers is just as meaningful. One mother cried when we gave her a rose. She said it was her first time to receive one, and it made her feel very loved."

The group wasn't alone in the celebration of Global Youth Day. They were joined after noon by more than 1000 youth from different churches all over Metro Manila for a Compassion Walk from Luneta Park to Harbour Square, where the event culminated in a program that was broadcast live through Hope Channel. [Weanne Estrada/AND]
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