by Pastor Abel Vergara | WMC Communication Director
Silang, Cavite, Philippines – November 11, 2023
In a heartwarming display of camaraderie, Cebuano-speaking gospel workers hailing from the South and Central Philippines converged at the AIIAS Gazebo for breakfast during the 26th Annual Forum hosted by the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS). The event brought together around 250-300 dedicated individuals, creating an atmosphere akin to a familial gathering.
Dr. Reuel Almocera, the retiring Director of the Ellen G. White State, characterized the gathering as “Organized Chaotic,” capturing the spirit of unity that permeated the breakfast meeting. When asked about the driving force behind this strong bond among the participants, Dr. Almocera attributed it to two key factors – tradition and language. The tradition, according to Dr. Almocera, traces its roots back to a thoughtful initiative taken years ago. Recognizing that AIIAS students from the Visayas and Mindanao regions often lacked friends to celebrate their graduation, Cebuano speaking professors took it upon themselves to ensure that these students felt the warmth and joy of a traditional Filipino graduation ceremony. By providing them with a celebratory meal, the professors aimed to replicate the experience of being surrounded by loved ones during this significant milestone.
The second and perhaps more profound unifying factor is the shared Cebuano language. As Dr. Almocera emphasized, “It is the language that truly unites us.” In a diverse country like the Philippines, where various languages and dialects are spoken, the Cebuano tongue acts as a powerful common thread that binds these gospel workers together. Beyond a means of communication, the language serves as a cultural bridge, fostering a sense of belonging and mutual understanding among the attendees. The AIIAS Annual Forum breakfast has thus become more than just a routine gathering; it is a testament to the enduring strength of tradition and the unifying power of language. As gospel workers continue to face challenges in their mission, these shared moments of fellowship serve as a source of inspiration and solidarity, reinforcing the bonds that go beyond the boundaries of duty and service.