Pres. Aquino cites World Vision’s 55 years of service to Filipinos

President Benigno Simeon Aquino III was the guest of honor during the recently-held World Vision National Prayer Assembly at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum last November 9, marking the 55th anniversary of the humanitarian organization.

In his keynote address, President Aquino commended World Vision for its efforts in improving the lives of children and poor communities in the Philippines and consequently, its contributions to national growth.

In his keynote address during the recent National Prayer Assembly last November 9, President Benigno Aquino III commended World Vision for its efforts in improving the lives of children and poor communities across the Philippines.

World Vision has given children a chance to realize their dreams, while also giving those with resources a chance to enrich their lives by helping others,” said the President before a crowd of 11,000 composed of guests and key partners who participated in the prayer gathering which culminated the child-focused agency’s 55th anniversary in Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

“Your work has empowered many from different sectors to defeat the culture of negativity, and replace it with a culture of compassion. For that, I thank and congratulate you. I also thank as well all those who have contributed to your causes,” he added.

“We are also celebrating an organization dedicated to giving others back their ability to hope,” concluded the President, in reference to World Vision’s anniversary theme “Sharing the Joy of Hope”.

After his speech, the President was prayed over by church leaders and members of other faith-based groups, lead by K4 Philippines Intercessors Movement founder-president Bishop Jonel Milan. 
 PNOY being prayed over, lead by K4 Philippines Intercessors Movement founder-president Bishop Jonel Milan.
 K4 Philippines Intercessors Movement founder-president Bishop Jonel Milan lead the prayer for PNOY.

“It started with a prayer”

 “World Vision was born from a simple prayer,” Executive Director Elnora Avarientos told the crowd of 11,000 participants. She shared how World Vision founder, Christian missionary Robert “Bob” Pierce, began his lifelong ministry of helping poor children and families all over the world with a heartfelt plea – “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.”

These words, written on the flyleaf of the bible Pierce carried throughout his missions, became the foundation of what is today known as one of the largest Christian advocacy, relief and development organizations in the world – operating in over 100 countries, including the Philippines. Today, after more than five decades, Pierce’s legacy of prayer continues to be a mandate every World Vision office around the world serves to uphold.

Over 11,000 participants came at the SMART Araneta to pray for the nation.
Over 11,000 participants came to celebrate at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

World Vision recognizes God’s faithfulness and favor throughout its vast work for children and communities in the last 55 years. Through the event dubbed Mahal ko ang PIlipinas: National Prayer Assembly’, World Vision engaged its wide network of partners, donors and supporters to humbly offer the organization’s blessings and success back to God through prayer.

Generous partners from the business community also poured gifts-in-kind during the special event. The  Universal Robina Corporation (URC) lavishly provided snack foods, juices and energy drinks to the thousands of participants. Other corporate donors who helped include Liwayway Marketing, Jack n Jill, Robinsons Supermarket, Mannasoft Technology Corporation, Boardwalk, Maynilad, and Julie's Bakeshop.

The prayer assembly was likewise aimed at gathering people from various sectors – government, non-government, faith-based groups among others– to fervently pray for the country and its leaders as well.

A host of media also covered the event, including ABS-CBN’s Karen Davila who also led the prayer for the media and colleagues in the news industry. Official media partners DZAS-FEBC, Radio Veritas, and CBN-Asia also pitched support to cover the prayer gathering.  

 “The National Prayer Assembly is a way of celebrating our anniversary by committing to prayers our national leaders, headed by the president.” We want to have a transformed Philippines for the sake of the Filipino children,” said Rev. Joey Umali, Strategic Engagement Advisor of World Vision.

In partnership with K4 Philippines Prayer Movement, World Vision hosted a three-hour programme comprised of prayer intentions for the different branches of government, and other non-government sectors, praise and worship songs, dance numbers and speeches lead by guest-of-honor President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, World Vision Philippines (WVP) Board of Trustees Chairperson Atty. Liwayway Vinzons-Chato, and other notable guests.

There were also featured performances from the Ebenezer Children’s Choir, whose members are sponsored children from the Cavite ADP; the Quezon City Performing Arts Children’s Choir; Fil-American singer and WV child sponsor Stephanie Reese; WV celebrity advocate Nikki Gil; and much-respected singers Gary Valenciano and Kuh Ledesma.

Gary Valenciano's rendition of  "God Alone" struck everyone's hearts. 

WV celebrity advocate Nikki Gil sings "Thanks to You" to the crowd.  

Present during the event were World Vision leaders, partners and stakeholders, including WVP Board of Trustees member retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno, World Vision International South Asia and Pacific Regional leader Trihadi Saptoadi; World Vision International Global Field Operation partnership leader Dirk Booy, and former World Vision sponsored children – Bishop Leo P. Alconga, executive area director, East Asia Biblica; and Lt. Cdr. Armand Balilo, spokesperson of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG). 

Karen Davilla and former sponsored child, Armand Balilo now the spokesperson of the Philippine Coast Guard.
Karen Davila with former sponsored child Lt. Cdr. Armand Balilo, now the spokesperson for the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

Also in attendance were Senator Franklin Drilon, who lead a prayer for the legislative branch of government; Senator Francis Pangilinan, Samar’s First District Representative Mel Senen Sarmiento, Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada, Cebu’s 6th District Rep. Gabriel “Luigi” Quisumbing, Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas, Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Joseph Emilio “Jun” Abaya, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr., Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Office Secretary Ramon Carandang, among others.

The Chief Justice gives a heartfelt prayer

Meanwhile, there was barely a dry eye inside the Big Dome when Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno delivered her heartfelt prayer. The newly-installed chief justice was moved to tears while praying for the plight of judges in the country, many of which she said are being killed because of their job. She also prayed for the state of Philippine prisons and the many innocent that are languishing in jails.

“Lord God, protect our judges. Many of them have been killed. I cry out to you for their families and our safety,” Sereno prayed.

“I seek help to solve our problem with jail congestion. There are more than 70,000 prisoners all over the country, more than 60,000 awaiting processes to be fulfilled. This is such an injustice in our land. Forgive us, Lord, for we have forgotten our prisoners,” she added.

Retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno and Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno.

Sereno likewise thanked all those who supported and prayed for her when she assumed the top judicial post last September. The 52-year-old Sereno will serve as chief magistrate for 18 years until the mandatory retirement age of 70 as required by law.

“Tanging Panginoon lang ang nakakaalam kung bakit ang anak Niya ay tinalaga sa liderato ng hudikatura. (Only the Lord knows why He has appointed His child to head the judiciary),” to God, the chief justice sought for guidance in the performance of her duties.

“Lord, guide me, protect me, give me a humble spirit, let me never lose my focus,” she implored.

11,000 raise hands for child health

The two top government officials, Aquino and Sereno, likewise lead the 11,000 present to raise their hands in support of child health. Executive Director Elnora Avarientos called upon the participants to raise their right hands to signify their commitment to help reduce child deaths in the country.

From Left to Right: Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, President Benigno Simeon Aquino III,World Vision Philippines (WVP) Board of Trustee Chairperson Atty. Liwayway Vinzons-Chato and Bishop Jonel Milan.

From November 13-21, 2012, World Vision International celebrates The Global Week of Action. The campaign is a call to government leaders to take urgent action to address child mortality. Every year, nearly seven million children all over the world die before their fifth birthday – the causes of which are identified as easily preventable or treatable, such as pneumonia, malnutrition, and diarrhea.