Honoring the Nestorian Christians

Friday, May 23, 2014



By Fred Vergara

 (Editor's Note: This short story won a prize at St. Andrew’s Theological Seminary in Creative Writing contest in 1976. I think it was because it was the only entry. Just kidding.  Someone has kept it and sent to me. I am intrigued by what I wrote in the past and sharing it with you as it painted the context of martial law in the Philippines and the cynicism of the time. The article written was November 24, 1976 the celebration of St. Andrew’s Festival - Fred Vergara.)

 In the year 1975 traffic congestion in Manila was real. Candido was experiencing its discomforting regularity as when a girl suffers a menstrual cycle. But this last traffic jam was a dysmenorrhea.  It was too irritating to create pain in his lower abdomen.

From the intersection of Taft Avenue, entrance to Jones Bridge in Quiapo, a long line of buses, trucks, jeepneys, taxicabs and private cars were at a standstill. No one could figure out how to escape from the bumper to bumper formation. Several drivers would honk their horns like devils thinking the sounds would make a difference.

From inside the bus, Candido could see black smoke belching from the vehicles. He shuddered at the thought of toxic substances from these emissions: sulfur oxide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, nitrogen oxide aside from tar, nicotine foul odor, etcetera. That recent article from Time Magazine about the causes of lung cancer and heart disease flashed in his mind. Ah, this pollution in Manila would shorten the Filipino life span. He made a slight quiver.

He settled his left foot gently on the floor and adjusted his balance. He discovered that he was actually stepping on someone’s shoe and the man was looking at him with sinister eyes.

“I’m sorry, “he mumbled. Could not this insect see that they are all standing like sardines in a Ligo can?
“It’s OK,” the man muttered, releasing a lousy grin. Candido understood this as an insult. Filipinos often cry when they are happy and smile or laugh when they are hurt or angry, a cultural nuance that sometimes baffle the foreigners.  He looked at the man. He can challenge him to a fist fight.

He glanced at his wrist watch. Seiko time: 4:30 P.M. He made a calculation. If the traffic does not move within ten minutes, he would be late for Evensong at their seminary chapel in Quezon City. If the traffic does not move in twenty minutes, he would be late for dinner and marked absent for Evensong. If the traffic does not move in thirty minutes, he would be marked AWOL and be summoned by the Dean of Discipline. Unless he gave a convincing lie, they would know where he went and maybe given a disciplinary action. He grew more impatient. What is happening to the Bureau of Traffic Management?

The traffic still refused to move and the sounds of blaring horns grew more cacophonous. His eyes wandered around but there was no cop directing the traffic.  He overheard the conversation from those sitting in the bus.  One was telling another, “The bullet train, Shinkansen in Japan had started in 1964. Ten years had passed and the Philippines transport system still operates like a calesa.”  

The other passenger, who obviously was a government apologist, counseled him to be patient: “The government is doing all it can to solve traffic congestion and we just have to bear the inconvenience.”  What?  “We are expanding our roads, building more highways and expressways and disciplining our pedestrians. We do not have money compete with Japan but we are purchasing some Japanese buses to fill the transport needs of a growing metropolis.”

So there was the answer to his question.  Could a theological student ask a more sensible one?

The thought of Systematic Theology class began to bug his mind. He wondered why he could not understand theological books. Theological languages are hifalutin and esoteric for common people to understand. Why do they have to write in languages that are hard to understand? Did not God come down from heaven and dwelt among humans and became a servant? Did not Jesus speak in the language that even the dull and ignorant can understand?  But look what these theological nerds did to the Word of God. Macquarie, Bultmann, Moltmann, Hans Kung, Barth, etc. . Bah, Karl Marx could explain salvation history better than these theological freaks!

But back to the point. Perhaps, he was partly to blame for barely passing the course on Systematics and the languages used may not even be part of it. He let off an air of contempt. The image of fat-bellied English missionary came to mind. He once hated this one-man “Department of Liturgy and Music.” He did not like the way a European missionary telling Filipino students that the rituals of their ancestors had no value in Christian worship. He would often make signs of disturbing chapels by pretending to snore or come in and out of chapel and the restroom as if suffering from urinary incontinence.  

Often he would come late or miss the chapel altogether and Father Ulysses could not take it anymore. He warned him, “Gentleman, if you don’t get serious with the Daily Office, you better reconsider your call. The vocation and office of priesthood may not be suited for you.”

He tried to reason out with Father Ulysses.  He felt that the Anglican liturgy was anachronistic to Filipino feudal society. For instance in the exchange of peace, he could not imagine a landlord extending a hand to his farm workers; a Dona shaking hands with her maids; or a haciendero to his sacadas. He would conjure plenty of contradictions. How could Filipino Christians truly be one in sharing the Body and Blood of Christ when they could not be one in sharing a cup of coffee? And how could a rich church live in a society where so much injustices exist?

But Father Ulysses had no stomach for ideological confrontations. His blood pressure would rise and lest he be blamed for his professor’s stroke, he would decide to dismiss with, “Yes, Father; I am too serious about the Divine Office.  In fact, I have already memorized the Te Deum and the suffrages and I can sing the canticles very well.”

He did it! Father Ulysses would calm down.  A master-liturgist, mindful of his Anglican ethos, the now sober Benedictine monk would ponder and waver and then murmured, “There must be something with this kid that I could not recommend him for expulsion.” Candido would have wanted to say; “Don’t you know Father that I am exactly the kind of guy Jesus is looking for.” But he kept it to himself. There was no need to push your luck.

Yes, there were many who were puzzled why he went to the seminary. Comrades who saw him wearing an immaculately white cassock wondered what he had eaten. Conversion?  Penance? Communist infiltration of a Christian institution?

Candido Brilliantes, A.B. Political Science and Journalism. Political activist. Fiery speaker. Militant. Student of Mao. Rabble rouser.  Studying to be a priest?

Nostalgia. Loud, exciting, risky nostalgia. How he would spit at organized authorities. From one campus to another. From one street to another. Protest demonstrations. Sometimes joining mobs in deafening crescendos:  Down with imperialism! Down with Feudalism! Down with Fascism!

Nostalgia. Painful, bitter nostalgia. Martial law. The police brutality. The political prison. Worst, the cutting off of the revolutionary movement, “ten years behind.” The masses refused to bleed. Marcos was too smart to play on their acquiescence. It took over 300 years before Filipinos rose up in arms against Spain and for fifty years they were lulled by American imperialistic subtlety. Just give them something to hold on and they will increase their level of tolerance.  

 Yes, Marcos “New Society” seemed to be working. The masses were being ‘pavlovanized’ by the sweet voice of Imelda and her ‘cultural center.’ The former revolutionaries were turning reactionaries. Doomsday for oppressors did not come. Candido felt that his mind was clogged and could not think anymore.

Oh yes, the beginning of it all was when his mind was clogged with messy activism. Pot sessions, fraternal rumbles, free love somewhere in the campus. The college president, asthmatic and aging, decided to deal with their notoriety. They were expelled from the college but a group of self-styled student movement, held a demonstration for their reinstatement. At their reentry, he pursued what he called “committed journalism.” Chosen editor of the college paper, he pursued radical ideas and imported socialist ideologies. With mind clouded by Marxist ideology, his writings reflected revolutionary means to achieve synthetic ends:” Destroy in order to build;” “Divide in order to unite.”

Then came Leamor. Yes. Leamor, the absorber of his passion, the tranquilizer of his pain, the iota of his eternal delight. She was na├»ve, pure, utterly ignorant of class struggle. She took out her time for DG’s (discussion groups).  He remembered as she lays naked like the day she was born and saying, “Dids, why don’t you just take an MBA at Asian Institute of Management?  At AIM, you won’t make enemies. And you can be rich someday!” In dreamy eyes, she imagined her future husband getting employed in one of the biggest multinational corporations. She would dream of a mansion, a red car, and a membership in the Blue Ladies Club. She was trying to convince Candido to forget the revolution!

He remembered too how he spat at the pavement of the Episcopalian cathedral and in rage, he responded to her dream with, “Don’t you realize that I am doing for the masses and that includes you?”

Ah, Leamor, the absorber of his passion, the tranquilizer of his pain, the iota of his eternal delight. Frail, virginal, pure until she blurted out in frustration: “Then marry the masses, bastard! You belong to no one and no one belongs to you---except your ideological fantasy!” She fought back her tears and left.

That was the end of it all. When martial law was declared he was among those arrested.  His friends said he was lucky he was released after six months in jail. Some said he raised his right hand and pledged to support the government.  Others said there was a bishop who took him under his custody.

The traffic finally moved and Candido felt a sign of relief. At least, he might be able to reach the seminary for dinner. He might even be able to surreptitiously slip in the chapel before the end of Evensong. Somehow he had come to believe in the power of prayer. Just like a “Hail Mary” pass at American Football games, a prayer in desperation sometimes get good results. Within the two years he had been in seminary, he had learned to pray in desperation. He had a cut his hair short, quit smoking and alcohol, even when other seminarians were learning to do them in seminary.  He even resolved to become abstemious, if not fully abstinent like Father Ulysses.

The seminary is better than Camp Crame, he whispered to himself. Father Ulysses could be right. How wonderful it is when the prodigals come home and repent.  And what joy would a Filipino Church have when one spiritual leader who came out from filth would rise up as an instrument of God’s cleansing power. He could even become the Bishop of Manila. With miter and staff, he could pronounce absolution and influence social change. He could rub elbows with the mayor of Manila and even encourage Imelda in her beautification campaign. He could organize a faith-based coalition to call for solutions to traffic congestion and to combat air pollution!

He was about to get lost in his fantasy and daydreaming when he was awakened by a violent sound of colliding cars. Frenzy broke loose inside the bus when the driver hit the brakes just on time before joining the pile up as multiple cars crashed on rear end collisions. Women shrieked. Men ogled at what was happening. Traffic stopped again and a loud voice was heard. “P..ina mo! Saksak ka ng saksak; lumabas ka riyan!”  The taxi driver was mouthing a Tagalog curse addressed to the man in Mercedes Benz. His taxicab made in Japan was no match to the German made Benz. It was smashed!

I said “P…ina mo! Lumabas ka riyan!” Road rage. The taxi driver was blurting out foul language.
From the dark tinted Benz, came out a man in dark suit. With his bodyguards. Candido made a remark in the bus. Burgis! Politico!

Upon seeing the man with his bodyguards, the taxi driver was halted. He should not have uttered those dirty words. But he was hurt and his taxi was smashed. And there was no time to run.

The burly body guards took hold of the taxi driver on both arms and the man began slapping the taxi driver. What did you say? Take it back or I’ll kill you! Then he punched and kicked as bodyguards restrained the bleeding taxi driver, writhing in pain.  From the bystanders, there was no one who stood up to succor. Everyone was simply watching the assault that was taking place.

The scene was too much for Candido. He felt hot anger in his belly and his eyes grew wild. Seizing a metal pipe from under a bus seat, he rushed to the aid of the taxi driver and wildly swung to the man in dark suit. One of the body guards drew a gun but Candido was already raging with uncontrolled madness, unleashing his fury. He felt like an archangel anointed by God to execute judgment against the oppressors. He felt exalted from his lowly position and given the righteous mission to defend the poor and punish the iniquities of the rich. In his exultation he did not hear the explosion of the gun. He did not even feel the burning pain of the bullets piercing his body. But as he fell to the ground, he saw a glimpse of Jesus’ body on the cross, dirtied, blooded and… dead.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

EMMAUS: Welcoming the Stranger, Walking in the New World

EMMAUS WALK: Welcome the Stranger and Live in a New World (Text: Luke 24:13-35)
(Sermon of the Rev. Canon Dr. Winfred B. Vergara. St. James Episcopal Church, Elmhurst, NY.5.4.2014)

1st Century Israel: It was evening of the day of Jesus’ resurrection. Two disciples of Jesus were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus. One was named Cleopas and the other was not identified. Emmaus was seven miles from Jerusalem so it was quite a long walk. What happened to them on their way would warm their hearts, transform their lives and revolutionize their ministry.

What exactly happened on their way to Emmaus? Three things happened: A stranger walked with them; the stranger broke bread; the stranger turned out to be Jesus!

21st Century New York: What is the significance of Emmaus to our own lives today? Where is our Emmaus? How do we walk with God in this new world?

A.     A stranger walked with them
 We live in a world where we are taught to fear the strangers. We tell our children not to talk to strangers. We are wary of strangers. They may bring us harm. They may bring us disease. They may bring us burdens. They may disturb our peace. They may be a threat to our security.

The history of immigration in this country was in some way tainted by this fear of the stranger. “These new immigrants will take away our jobs and will become a burden to our economy.” So we build walls, we barb wire  our fences,  we strengthen our borders. We tighten our immigration policies.

Some of our fears of the stranger issued itself in the form of racist laws and discriminatory policies. On May 6, 1882, the U.S. government issued the Chinese Exclusion Act. Signed by then President Chester Arthur, it was one of the most notorious restrictions in United States immigration history. The Act not only prohibited immigration of Chinese laborers but also deported many who were already here. After they helped America to develop their mining industry and built its transcontinental railroads, the Chinese immigrants were branded as “yellow peril” and sent back to China.  The Act was initially intended to last for ten years but continued for many years until repealed in 1943.

On February 19, 1942 following the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the outbreak of the War in the Pacific, U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066. It was known as the “the Japanese Internment Act.”  On May 3, 1942, General DeWitt ordered all people of Japanese ancestry to be incarcerated in various Internment Camps in remote areas in the country. Overnight, 110,000 Japanese immigrants--- 62% of them American citizens--- were removed from their homes and herded into concentration camps.

America used to be known as a “Christian country” but because of fear, we forget what the Bible says in Exodus 22:21:"Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were also foreigners.” Because of fear, we forget the inscription written on the Statue of Liberty, a poem from Emma Lazarus:

 Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores. Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

2. The Stranger Broke Bread
So it is a credit to the disciples of Jesus that they welcomed the stranger to walk with them. At this point of their lives, they felt they had nothing to lose. Their leader Jesus had died and they were lonely. This man whom they looked as the deliverer was rejected, arrested, crucified, died and was buried. They felt empty, their hearts forlorn and their hopes droop. What they needed most was a companion on the journey. They forgot their fears; they become vulnerable and they opened their lives to the stranger. Not only that they allowed the stranger to walk with them; they sat down at table and shared their food.

Asian theologian D. T. Niles wrote, “Evangelism is a beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.” When Jesus saw the crowd, he had compassion for they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36). When Christianity was introduced to India, the first ones who responded were the Dalits or the “untouchables.” They were the oppressed, the massa perditionis, the marginalized, the outcast of society.  It is when you feel vulnerable that you are open to the move of the Spirit. It is when you feel you are a stranger that you are kind to strangers; it is when you are wounded that you care for the wounded. Because you remember that you were a foreigner once, that you are also kind and welcoming to the foreigner.

Not only that the disciples listened to his story; they also invited the stranger to dinner.  And the miracle happened! As this stranger broke bread, their eyes were opened and they recognized him as the risen Christ! In the past, their ancestors had welcomed the strangers who turned out to be angels; now, they had welcomed a stranger who turned out to be the Christ!  

As the risen Jesus vanished from their sight, they said to themselves, “Did not our hearts burned within us as while he talked with us on the road and opened the scriptures to us?” Unable to contain this joy, they hurried back to Jerusalem and told the other disciples that Jesus had risen from the dead.

3. The Stranger turned out to be the risen Christ
The experience of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, the lessons they learned from the stranger and the Holy Communion they partook from the risen Christ, were the rewards they received for being open and welcoming to the stranger. Their ears heard the Good News because they were open; their hearts were warmed because they were not hardened; their eyes recognized Jesus because they were ready to see the miracle.

As they shared the Good News, they were willing to enter a new world, a world they have not known before. The Bible would later say that the risen Christ took them as far as Bethany to be a witness to his ascension into heaven. Jesus commissioned them to go and make disciples of all nations and to believe that He will be with them to the ends of the world (Matthew 28:19). Jesus summoned them to live a life without fear, to enter a world where death has no more dominion, a world where all things are possible ----and to a new life can be lived in all its fullness.

Let me now stretch your imagination and ask: What is this new world in our context? What is our road to Emmaus? For me it is the world of the internet. It is a world that for a long time, I had ignored. I grew up in the world of manual typewriters and rotary phones; of transistor radios, sewing machines and black and white TV’s.  In my over sixty years of life, I have experienced that has evolved: from an agricultural era, to industrial era and now the computer-internet era.

 The Emmaus that we are in is changing very rapidly. When I came to New York in 2004, I rode in the subway train and there were still people still looking at me. But now, nobody is looking at each other---because everyone is busy with their iphones or smart phones: talking, texting, twitting or checking their Facebook and other social networking.

Steve Jobs, the inventor of Apple’s iPhone is now dead but the revolution he started continues. He had invented the iPhone; IPod; and iPad. And I invented the iSleep; iSnore and iIgnore. But now, I can no longer ignore it.
 In fact, I am already addicted to this little thing, and so with millions of other people as well. And I am also addicted to Facebook, which is now the second largest population in the world!

This little iPhone has now become my constant companion, my significant other. It is with me when I sleep and when I rise. It goes with me when I fly 36,000 feet on the plane; it is with me when I go to the deepest part of the earth, like Death Valley, California; it is with me when I fly to the uttermost part of the sea, which is Sabah, Malaysia.

My wife should get jealous with my iPhone Girlfriend, but she does not mind, because she also has Mr. Smart Phone, the Galaxy 5, Android. The smart phone can do things equally, like the iPhone. It can find us friends via Facebook; it can give us community via Google+; it can excite us with news and trivia via Twitter; it can connect us with family and friends via Skype; it can put us into group discussion and meetings via Zoom or webex.
This, now, is the world in which we live. We can hate it or love it; we can curse it or bless it; we can reject is or embrace it; but we can no longer ignore it!

So how should we live in this new world? How do we deal with this stranger in our midst?
Do we reject it like the Pharisees and call for its crucifixion? Or do we welcome it like what the disciples did on the road to Emmaus?

Today, our Senior Warden will show us our new Virtual Classroom (our partnership with the Asiamerica Ministries and the Diocese of Long Island of The Episcopal Church). This classroom is equipped with the latest of technology. Through this classroom, we can reach people not only inside but outside the walls of the church.  We can teach, proclaim and share our faith to people abroad as well as receive teaching from abroad. This is our classroom without borders!

It was in 1739 when Anglican clergyman (who founded Methodism) John Wesley uttered this famous phrase, “the world is my parish.” Today, this prophecy has become a reality.  The world parish has no physical boundary. Through the internet revolution, we can be both a local church and a global church; both a real and virtual church; a physical church and a digital church-reaching the uttermost part of the earth.
St. James Multicultural Parish in Elmhurst, New York  stands today as an example of a church for the world. We shall have congregations within and without. We shall have congregations in Queens as well as in cyberspace.  Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we shall walk with the stranger, offer hospitality to all foreigners, and break bread within and beyond time and space. In this openness and willingness to learn to live in this new world, we will discover new tools that will revolutionize our ministry, revitalize our church and move us forward to the Kingdom of God.

Brothers and sisters: Welcome this new world and expect a miracle! Amen.

Thursday, May 1, 2014



Saturday, May 10, 2014 (10am - 5pm) 
Registration Opens at 9:30 A.M.
St. James Episcopal Church   
 84-07 Broadway 
Elmhurst, New York 11373 
 (Accessible by Queens Subway, Trains M & R and Bus Q53) Call   New York 11373
Registration begins at 9:30am or you can register online to reserve your ticket at https://summitonhumantrafficking.eventbrite.com


Human Trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery and is a pertinent issue in New York, in the United States, in Asia and the world. The United States is one of the destination countries for transnational trafficking networks that bring foreign nationals for purposes of both sexual and labor exploitation. Migrants from all over the world are trafficked. A major form is “labor trafficking” in which individuals are made to perform labor or services through use of force, deception, fraud, or coercion.

Jointly organized by Asiamerica Ministries of the Episcopal Church (TEC) and the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) and open to the public, this Summit will bring together members of the religious and civic communities to gain awareness, strategize and get involved in the fight against human trafficking. 

Survivors of human trafficking, community organizations, church groups, and service-oriented groups who work on cases of human trafficking will gather to share their experiences, struggles, and victories.

A part of the conference will highlight the case of the Philippines, being one of the top countries of human trafficking and a speaker from Gabriela Women's Partylist in the Philippines --- who works directly with families and also legislation on anti-trafficking—has been invited. 

The 76th General Convention of the TEC approved resolutions calling for the “protection of all victims of human trafficking, particularly women and children…support legislation and actions” against human trafficking.”

The goals of the Summit are three-fold:
1.    To raise awareness on Human Trafficking especially in Asia-America context;
2.    To help heal and empower survivors of human trafficking;
3.    To start conversation towards an “Asiamerica Coalition Against Human Trafficking” drawing from various churches and community organizations.

Keynoting on “What is Human Trafficking?” will be the Rev. Raynald Bonoan, Rector of Holy Spirit Church in Safety Harbor, Florida who, along with celebrated rescuer, Anna Rodriguez of Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking, rescued several victims of Human Trafficking.

New York State Senator Jose Peralta will lead government officials in giving remarks while the Rev. Charles Mc Carron of Episcopal Services will speak on behalf of Bishop Lawrence Provenzano of the Diocese of Long island.

DJ Arucan from the Gabriela Women’s Party List of the Philippines will speak on the women’s situation and root causes that lead to trafficking in the Philippines.
Candice Sering, Chair of GABRIELA New York will moderate a Q&A with the panel of trafficking survivors and speakers to highlight the case of the Philippines as one of the top countries of human trafficking and to emphasize the transnational reality of the problem.
GABRIELA is a global activist women’s rights organization working directly to serve the survivors and the families of victims as well as working to effect meaningful legislation in the Philippines.

The Rev. Dr. Fred Vergara and Cris Hilo will coordinate the program and serve as emcees. Other speakers and workshop leaders include:

Ms. Lelanda Lee of the Episcopal Church Executive Commission, who will share about the resolution passed by the TEC General Convention;

Monique Wilson of the “Miss Saigon” Broadway Musical and current Global Director of “One Billion Rising for Justice”, will discuss worldwide efforts for global justice.

Atty. Cristina Godinez and Fr. Julian Jagudilla of St. Francis of Assisi Migrant Center, who will speak on Comprehensive Immigration Reform and TPS (Temporary Protected Status) Philippines.

The Taiko Drummers from Metropolitan Japanese Ministry (MJM) will conclude the event with “call to mission” drumming. 

Workshops include: “Breaking the Chain of Internalized Oppression & Empowering Survivors”; “Building an Asiamerica Coalition Against Human Trafficking Using ABCD Approach”; and “TPS Philippines and Comprehensive Immigration Reform.”
Government officials in New York working on the issue of Human Trafficking such as State Senator Jose Peralta, Congresswoman Grace Meng and Councilman Daniel Dromm have been invited to make brief remarks and assist in advocacy.

9:30-10:00 A.M. – Registration and Ushering at St. James Hall & Church Door
10:00 A.M. – Welcome & Opening Prayer – Rev. Dr. Fred Vergara, TEC-EAM         Introduction of Representatives: Ms. Cris Hilo, NAFCON 
Remarks from the Episcopal Church Executive Council – Ms. Lelanda Lee
Remarks from the Diocese of Long Island –Rev. Charles Mc Carron
Remarks from the UN Commission on the Status of Women –Lynnaia Main
Remarks from the Philippine Ambassador to the UN – Hon. Lebron Cabactulan
Remarks from New York State Senator Jose Peralta and other Officials 
10:30 A.M. – Keynote: What is Human Trafficking – The Rev. Raynald Bonoan 
11:15 A.M. – Musical Presentation –Bayanihan Cultural Collective 
11:30 A.M. – Panel Presentation: Candice Sering, Moderator                                 Panelists : Djay Arucan, Elma Manliguez and Trafficking Survivors
12: 15 NOON – Open Forum ( Q & A) – Candice Sering
-       Elmhurst Neighborhood Block Association (ELMNBA)

          1:30-1:45 P.M. – WORKSHOP ORIENTATION – Zarah Vinola
2:00 – 3:00 P.M. – Workshops in Various Rooms
1: Breaking the Chains of Internalized Oppression – Virtual Classroom              (Facilitators: Lelanda Lee with Human Trafficking Survivors)
2. Building Coalition Using ABCD Approach- Choir Room                                 (Facilitators: Fred Vergara, Djay Arucan, Ray Bonoan)
3. TPS Philippines & Immigration Reform – St. James Hall                                  (Facilitators: Atty. Cristina Godinez & Rey Canz)
3:15 P.M. – GROUP REPORTS- St. James Hall – Fr. Fred & Cris Hilo
4:00 P.M. – Concluding Speaker: Monique Wilson
4:30 P.M. – Taiko Drums – Metropolitan Japanese Ministry (MJM)
5:00 P.M. – Closing Prayer – Rev. Noel Bordador
 (Note: After the Closing Prayer, there will be a meeting of Organizing Committee, Trafficking Survivors to organize the “Asiamerica Coalition Against Human Trafficking-East Coast USA” from 5:30 P.M. – 6:30 P.M.)

The Rev. Dr. Fred Vergara, Coordinator 
 Ms. Cris Hilo, Assistant Coordinator

Members:  Lynnaia Main, Candice Sering, Zarah Vinola, Rev. Noel Bordador, Cristina Hing, Tetchie Mercado, Bob Wong, Elizabeth Mui, Charles Martellaro
SPONSORS:                                                                                                                                              THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH-Office of Asiamerica Ministries 
 TEC Office of Government Relations 
 TEC Office of Global Relations
  Episcopal Migrations Ministry  (EMM)
STJAMES EPISCOPAL CHURCH, Elmhurst, New York                                            
Episcopal Asian Commission of Diocese of Long Island 
Episcopal Asiamerica Commission of the Diocese of New York
St. Francis of Assisi Migrant (Catholic) Center, New York 
 Elmhurst Neighborhood Block Association (ELMNBA)  

PARTICIPATING ORGANIZATIONS                                                                      GABRIELA, New York
Anakbayan, New York
Anakbayan New Jersey                                                                                  
 Kinding Sindaw
 Kalusugan Coalition
Philippine Forum 
New York Asian WomenCenter                                                                                                                                                                                     Pakistani Noor Alam Memorial Church
 Elmhurst Korean Methodist Church