by Consolacion R. Alaras
In 1994 – as chair of the Department of English and Comparative Literature in the University of the Philippines, I was given a grant by the Philippine-USA Faculty Development to study Writing Centers in the United States. It was during this year that my research on Covenant Writing emerged, influenced by the Covenant Writing of the ancestral spiritual groups in our country as documented in my 1988 book Pamathalaan: Ang Pagbubukas sa Tipan ng Mahal na Ina (Sacred Prophetic Politics: The Unfolding of the Covenant with the Great Mother).
As I toured the United States and experienced identified Writing Center, I began to realize that I must expand the idea of University Writing Center to Community Writing Center: Community Writing Center to mark the Community Covenant for Transformation and Peace, Unity and Development. This notion was strengthened when I discovered in 1995 the Covenant Cave in Pamitinan of Rodriguez, Rizal. This Covenant Cave is the site of the April 1895 Holy Week Pilgrimage Covenant of the Philippine Revolutionary Movement called Katipunan which means the sacred coming together of Worthy Sons and Daughters for God, Country and Compatriots) for Freedom Nation with Honor and Holiness.
My discovery of this Covenant Cave in 1995 led to the Centennial Celebration of the Katipunan Pilgrimage Covenant in 1895 – which led to the July 7, 1996 Declaration of the place as a National Historical Site – and the October 10, 1996 Presidential Declaration as a Protected Area Landscape. My Photo-Text book on this Covenant Cave published by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts led to the immediate beginning of the Pamitinan Protected Area Management Board – and in this Board I was recommended to be the representative of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
My 1994 study of the Writing Centers in the United States and my 1995 discovery of the Covenant Cave in Pamitinan made me realize the need to establish a National Monument to mark the Philippine Pilgrimage Covenant for Freedom Nation with Honor and Holiness, as done by our Philippine Revolutionary Movement in Pamitinan Cave – the Covenant Cave. The model for this National Monument to distinguish the Philippines will be America’s Statue of Liberty – a gift from the Freedom-Loving People of France and the American citizens – since the citizens contributed to build the massive base of the Statue of Liberty.
In addition, the Centennial of the Covenant Cave was also marked by the June 1995 Filipino Earth Charter – which enshrined the concept I studied – Pamathalaan or God-Centered Governance. This 1995 Filipino Earth Charter marks the Philippines as the first government to contribute to the drafting of the People’s Earth Charter – the Pilgrimage Covenant of Nations of the World for sacred ancestral and heroic legacies – to ensure an Earth that is a Caring Home, a Caring Community, a Caring Nation.
As head of the National Committee on Cultural Information and Special Events, National Commission for Culture and the Arts – I conceptualized special events to make alive basic cultural information like 1) the result of the three world studies indicating that the Philippines tops the list of countries in terms of values and spirituality; 2) the transforming and unifying Presidential Commitments of Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph Ejercito Estrada and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to the Pilgrimage Covenant of the Philippines for Freedom Nation with Honor and Holiness in the Covenant Cave of Pamitinan Protected Area Landscape; and 3) the need to realize these transforming and unifying Presidential Commitments through the establishment of the Millennial Monument in Pamitinan Protected Area Landscape – to distinguish the Philippines, just like America’s Statue of Liberty, France’ Eiffel Tower, China’s Great Wall, etc. The Philippine Millennial Monument will rise as our leaders and citizens will make their Pilgrimage Covenant for Freedom Nation with Honor and Holiness.
So far I have identified the two sources of my concept of Covenant Writing: 1) the University Writing Centers in America and the Statue of Liberty which I now consider the Covenant Monument for Freedom Nation with Honor and Holiness, just like the Millennial Monument I envision to mark the Philippine Pilgrimage Covenant for Freedom Nation with Honor and Holiness; and 2) the Covenant Cave in Pamitinan Protected Area Landscape which marks the April 1895 Holy Week Pilgrimage Covenant of our Philippine Revolutionary Movement for Freedom Nation with Honor and Holiness.
The third crucial source of my concept of Covenant Writing is the Covenant Writing of our National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. This Rizal Covenant Writing embodied the entire being of the hero in the prison cell – as he prepared for his execution on December 30, 1896. Translated in major languages of the world, this Covenant Writing of Rizal addresses all – leaders and citizens – in a Covenant with God, Country and Compatriots – without bitterness and hatred. For this reason, among the folk or ancestral spiritual groups I studied, this Covenant Writing of Rizal is sacred, almost like the New Testament of the hero with his people.
It is not surprising that I have made Rizal as the model of English Language Education. In my classroom teaching and community training, I always say that Rizal excelled in various knowledges and languages to exalt his native culture. Rizal then is my source for the concept of English for National Purpose (ENP).
Providentially, in December 2004 – the Rizal Shrine Complex in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya – will provide possibilities for leaders and citizens to fulfill the expectations raised by the Covenant Cave of Pamitinan Protected Area Landscape of Rodriguez, Rizal and the Covenant Writing of Dr. Jose Rizal.
This biggest Rizal structure in the World is done by Jordanian Sir Mahmoud A.M. Asfour, the Deputy Area Commander for Northern Philippines of the Order of the Knights of Rizal, chartered under Republic Act 646 – which provides for the establishment of chapters in nations of the world.
This Mahmoud Asfour Rizal Shrine Complex epitomizes for me the concept of English for National Purpose – since the complex pays tribute to the Filipino people and World.
The Covenant Writing anchored on English for National Purpose is – therefore – transformational, unifying, integrative, multisectoral, interfaith, interdisciplinary. This thrust and focus is been seen in the project I conceptualized called English Plus for the Filipino Earth Charter as supported by the University of the Philippines and the Commission on Higher Education. The Plus in this English Plus I viewed in terms of culture, history and spirituality. For this reason, the Covenant Writing through the English Plus or English for National Purpose, will document the communities implementation of the Filipino Earth Charter Preamble, Principles and Values – since the Philippines is the first government to contribute to the drafting of the People’s Earth Charter – as the People’s Pilgrimage Covenant for sacred ancestral and heroic legacies to ensure the Community of Life, Community of Ideals.
The visuals of the Community Covenant Writing will form the Travelling Exhibit called Rizal and the Katipunan Pilgrimage Covenant in the Philippines and Earth Charter Countries. The initiative for this Travelling Exhibit was launched in September 2004 at San Fernando City, La Union – led by Czech Republic Ambassador Stanislav Slavicky, La Union Governor Victor Ortega, Mayor Mary Jane Ortega, and Sir Mahmoud A.M. Asfour, KCR. Highlights of this La Union Launch were 1) the presentation of the draft bill for the establishment of the Millennial Monument to Mark the Pilgrimage Covenant of the Philippines for the People’s Earth Charter; and 2) the Renewal of the 1999 La Union Consecration to God the Father for the People’s Earth Charter – in support of the August 6, 2004 Consecration of the Philippines to God the Father by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in Malacañang Palace.
Significantly, the draft bill was presented to the folk spiritual groups which nurture the Pilgrimage Covenant of the Philippines for Pamathalaan or God-Centered Governance as enshrined in the Filipino Earth Charter.
The Millennial Monument to rise in Pamitinan Protected Area Landscape is envisioned in spirit to be like America’s Statue of Liberty – marking the sacred coming together of nations striving to realize the Pilgrimage Covenant for Freedom Nation with Honor and Holiness as embodied by Rizal Covenant Writing and the Katipunan Covenant Cave of Pamitinan Protected Area Landscape in Rodriguez, Rizal.