About a year and a half ago, New Stories Team Member Valmae Rose introduced me to Juan Kanapi, Jr. It was just after the devastating Typoon Haiyan and Valmae hoped that my work in Japan’s disasters might offer some insights in the Philippines. Juan and I started into a series of conversations which included introductions to a number of his colleagues. I did what I could to listen and sometimes offer counsel from a distance. It was somewhat embarrassing in the beginning to realize I couldn’t even spell Philippines (one 1 and two p‘s — not the other way around!) and that I knew practically nothing about their local context. I made video appearances in a conference or two and just kept being touched by the deep integrity and commitment of the people I met. Finally, this February, I was able to arrange an overnight stopover in Manila on my way to Japan and had a lovely dinner with Juan, some of his colleagues as well as another Team Member, Sarah Queblatin.
It was so good to be there, if only for an evening, to get a taste of these warriors of the heart.
I have the opportunity to work with wonderful people all over the world. I find myself especially touched by “this work” in the Philippines. Even my work in Japan’s disasters has been done from the comfort of relative stability. I’ve never had to worry about getting shot up because of political violence. Tensions between people with different spiritual outlooks have been minimal. That’s not the case in the Philippines where volatile conditions place those who host conversations that matter in harms way.
Just this week Juan shared a report on Art of Hosting in the Philippines. Here’ what Juan wrote about the report in an e-mail to Valmae, close friend and colleague Toke Moeller and me: