December 2007 Newsletter
The following articles are reproduced from the December 2007 Newsletter to members. Non-members may or may not be able to relate to the contents.
The 10th Indo-Pacific Conference
The 10th triennial conference of the Indo-Pacific Federation of the Theosophical Society was held on 2nd to 4th November 2007 at SEAMEO Innotech which is in the centre of Quezon City near the University of the Philippines and City Hall. More than 160 delegates attended the conference. The Singapore delegation was the largest foreign delegation with 21 members plus 4 relatives followed by the Australian & Malaysian delegations with 7 members each, New Zealand with 3, India with 2 and Myanmar 1.
Credit must be given to the host for a well-organized event. All the foreign delegates stayed at the International House in SEAMEO Innotech making it very convenient, especially for early morning programmes. The theme of the conference was “Live to Benefit Humanity”. Interesting talks relating to the theme were given by various speakers from the region. The Singapore delegation contributed two talks, a short talk by Chong Sanne on “Popularizing a Knowledge of Theosophy” and a presentation by Lily Chong on “Spiritual Healing—A Theosophical Perspective”. Both talks were well received by the delegates. The guest of honour was the Chief Justice of the Republic of the Philippines, the Hon. Reynato S. Puno, who is also a member of the TS in the Philippines. Other prominent speakers included the Vice Mayor of Quezon, Mr. Herbert Bautista, who also arranged a police car to escort the coach when the delegates went for the city tour on 5 November. Delegates were thrilled by the VIP treatment with the police car siren blaring, clearing the way for the coach on the heavily congested roads— quite an experience!
Delegates were feted to three meals and two high-teas a day, all vegetarian of course, with the ubiquitous “magic meat”. One of the highlights of the conference was the “cultural night” when each country had to perform for the benefit of the others. Singapore’s performance was a song and dance choreographed by a new member Harris Krishna with Lily Chong playing the electronic piano to provide the music for the amateur troupe. Everyone participated enthusiastically and unreservedly. It was hilarious. As a matter of fact, the greatest benefit from such conferences is not so much the theme or the talks but the opportunity to meet fellow members from different parts of the world, the brotherhood and camaraderie and the fun we had together.
Following the 3-day conference, we went on a city tour and visited one of the Golden Link schools where the children performed for us. It was a poignant moment for most of us just to be welcomed and to see the joy on the faces of the children who came mainly from the slums. The Golden Link School is a commendable project of the TS in the Philippines. It has a very positive effect on the upbringing of the children.
Through the kind arrangements of our own members, Danny and Josephine Giron, the Singapore delegation went for excursions on the last two days of our stay. The second last day we went to Villa Escudero Plantations where we had lunch downstream of a hydro-electric dam with our feet soaked in the water and we were serenaded by Filipino singers as we sat on bullock carts transporting us from one part of the plantation to another. On the last day, Danny and Josephine brought us to have a wonderful lunch at Sonya’s Garden before going to explore the Taal Volcano in Tagaytay. We had to go by boat to get to one of the small islands on the crater lake. Then we switched to horses to get to the top of the island where we saw another crater, i.e. a crater within a crater. It was a most memorable day as we were caught in a storm on the boat ride back. Everyone was drenched!
All too soon our Philippine trip had to come to an end. Everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy the trip. Luggages were noticeably heavier when we checked in for the return flight. Surely the heavy bags must make some people very happy.