Summer Programs....

UGAT gave a Basic Counseling for the Poor Seminar-Workshop last April 8-14 at the Tahanan ng Mabuting Pastol in Tagaytay City. It was an eclectic group, with care-providers from different ministries (school, community development--- even law enforcement!) in attendance.

April 16-20 found the team back in Mirador Jesuit Villa in Baguio City for the Family Interventions for School and Community Care-Providers.

And then it was the long-waited celebration. It's the 15th Anniversary of the Inter-Core Group Formation Program, the annual get together and continuous education for Basic Counseling graduates from Visayas and Mindanao. This year's theme was "From Family Space to Relational Space: Exploring Spirituality in Family Healing." The event was held at the Via, Veritas et Vita Retreat House in Lanipao, Pantukan Compostela Valley. Our grateful appreciation to the Diocese of Tagum, headed by Bishop Manlapaz, Mrs. Esther Benedicto and the Family and Life Apostolate for their efforts in coordinating this event.

Summer is also an opportunity for extending ministyr with the Jesuit brothers and this year UGAT was forunate to have with us Bro. Bong Tobe, SJ and Bro. Neo Saicon, SJ who assisted in some projects like KAPILAS (support group for wives of seafarers) and a recollection for children of seafarers at the Camella Homes in Lapu-lapu City, Cebu. This project is in coordination with the Apostleship of the Sea-Cebu.

The team also headed to Iligan City to give a two day Basic and Crisis Counseling Seminar for parish careproviders and teachers/guidance counselors of the Catholic schools in the Diocese. The seminar was held at the Crystal Inn last April 30 to May 1.

After which it was back to Manila for a seminar-workshop on "Psychodynamics: Implications to Formation" for local formators. This was organized by SAIDI (Southeast Asia Interdisciplinary Development Institute) and was held in SAIDI Antipolo last May 8-10.

Other summer activities conducted by the team were:

"Advancing Competency Outside the Classroom Seminar-Workshop"
May 16-18, 2007
Sacred Heart School -Jesuits
Cebu City
Staffed by: Fr. Nilo E. Tanalega, SJ, Fr. Jose C. Embile, SJ, Karen Rose Vardeleon, Mrs. Donato Abalo of the University of San Carlos-Cebu and Mrs. Annie Manzano of the University of the Philippines-Cebu City.

"Basic and Addiction Counseling"
May 17-19
Toyota Motors , Santa Rosa Laguna

Psycho-spiritual Integration for Teachers
May 21
Mary Help of Christians, Mabalacat, Pampangga

Basic Counseling Skills for Teachers
May 22
Sta Clara Parochial School, Pasay City

Psycho-spiritual Integration for Teachers
May 23-24
Sta Clara Parochial School, Pasay City

Basic and Family Counseling Seminars in Cebu

UGAT, with the Family Resource Group of Cebu and the Apostleship of the Sea, conducted a Basic and Crisis Counseling Seminar last February 10-11 at the Stella Maris Seafarer's Center in Cebu.

February 16-17, UGAT gave a Basic Couseling Seminar to the managers of Sunlife Financial-Cebu. This was held at the Archbishop's Palace and the Sunlife Financial Office.

Lastly, February 23-25 found UGAT giving a Basic Family Counseling Skills for Care-providers at the Stella Maris Seafarer's Center in Cebu. The seminar was attended by counselors from the different parishes in Cebu City.

An Anniversary of a Tragedy

Last February 17, 2006, a landslide wiped out the baranggay of Guinsaugon, Southern Leyte. It undoubtedbly changed the lives of so many people--- not just the survivors but also their careproviders like us. Ministering to them last year had been life-changing for us in UGAT, and it has always been the hope of this organization to come back to Guinsaugon, and follow-up how they have been.

Last February 18-20, an opportunity had been provided, through Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan, to return to Guinsaugon. This was in time with the anniversary of the tragedy. Anniversaries of tragedies can be difficult times for many people. For some it is a powerful reminder of a loss and for others it is a milestone in recovery. Through the grace of God, UGAT had been able to organized a counseling team of 13, mostly Cebuanos, to assist in a follow-up psychosocial mission to Leyte.

The following are some of the highlights of the mission:

1. An Internal Capability Building Seminar on the different seminar-workshops was held February 8-9, 2007, 6pm to 9pm at the Multi-purpose Hall of Stella Maris Seaman’s Center, Pier 4 in Cebu City. Participants were local counselors both from the parish level and the local schools. The meet served to:

a. Orient the new volunteers and update old volunteers on the Guinsaugon situation
b. Extend the invitation to local counselors to assist in the mission
c. Finalize the members of the mission team.
d. Leveling of counseling skills
e. Orientation to the modules to be used in the formation-seminars.

There were 18 participants on the first day (February 8) and 16 participants on the second day (February 9). The group was organized by Ms. Florina Mercader of the Family Resource Group-Cebu.

2. The seminars:

2.1. Seminar-Workshop on Building Survivor Famiies

This Formation-seminar, intended to build the resilience of the family unit after the tragedy, was held at the ABC Hall of St. Bernard’s Municipal Hall February 19, 2007, from 09:00am to 04:00pm. It was attended by 57 survivors.

2.2. Seminar-Workshop on Solo Parenting for Men

This Formation-seminar, intended to build the support system among male survivors after the tragedy, was held at the ABC Hall of St. Bernard’s Municipal Hall February 20, 2007, from 08:00am to 12:00pm. It was attended by 9 male solo parents. There were also 3 female participants.

2.3. Care for Blended Families
This Formation-seminar, intended to build the support system among widows and widowers from the tragedy who have remarried. It was held at the ABC Hall of St. Bernard’s Municipal Hall February 20, 2007, from 01:00pm to 4:00pm. It was attended by 5 participants.

2.4. Peer Counseling Training for Youth Leaders in St. Bernard
Through Plan International, UGAT also gave a Peer Counseling Training for the Youth Leaders in St. Bernard. This seminar-workshop was held at the Cristo Rey High School Old Convent and was attended by 44 participants.

3. Special thanks to the following people who have made this project a reality:
* Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan: Br. Javi Alpasa, SJ, Br. EJ Gerilla, SJ, R.C. Batac, Pao Legaspi and Bernie Aton.
* To our volunteer counselors who gave their time and energy: Lyra Versoza of the Psychology Department of Ateneo de Manila, Warlit Fonatanoza, Raul Fontanoza, Louie Dungog, Romy Lim, Tessie Lim and Josie Simbajon of the Family Resource Group in Cebu, Abigail Laurente and Marwen Castaneda of the University of San Carlos in Cebu and Ms. Annie Manzano of the University of the Philippines in Cebu.
* To Ms. Florina Mercader of the Family Resource Group in her efforts in organizing this team.
* To Mr. and Mrs. Fred and Cristine Veloso, and Mr. Pepe Cinco of Gawad Kalinga for all your assistance in local organizing.
* To Fr. Manny Lagumbay of the Parish Social Action in St. Bernard
* To Mr. Baltz Tribunalo, Jr. and Ms. Jojo Canisguin of Plan International
and *Ms. Celsa Mondalla for her generous loan of her home.


This is Mayon Volcano, situated in Legazpi City, Albay. She is hailed as one of the more majestic and picturesque volcanoes in the world, owing to her almost pefect cone.

And this is the havoc that she left after Typhoon Reming.

Typhoon Reming(International Name: Durian) which arrived in the Bicol Region last November 30, created a mudslide of volcanic ash and boulders that killed an estimated of 1,000 people and destroyed an estimated PHP 274 million worth of property. (As of press time, official death toll has risen from 198 to 450, with more bodies still to be dug.)

Last December 7 to 9, UGAT staffers Kay Vardeleon and Carlos Lagaya joined the Simbahang Lingkod Bayan and the Ateneo de Manila Psychology Department in conducting psychological debriefing to the survivors of the Albay mudslide.

The SLB-PsychDept team left for Albay at around 8pm via Isarog Buslines from Cubao. It was a 12 hour drive from Manila to Albay. A team of Ateneo High School students was also present to assist the Relief operations.

At around 10:30am, December 8, the team, headed by Lyra Versoza, conducted a crash course on Critical Incident Stress Debriefing to volunteer debriefers from the Diocese of Legazpi.

After lunch, the group started debriefing in Binitayan Elementary School (evacuation center) and to survivors at the Daraga church.

At December 9, scheduled debriefings of the team had to be cancelled as some evacuation centers had to be re-evacuated in lieu of the upcoming storm. The group decided to help out the group seeking temporary shelter at the Daraga Church and engage them in one on one debriefings when possible.

The SLB-PsychDept team left for Manila at around 2pm.

Lyra, UGAT's Caloy Lagaya and Kay Vardeleon remained and met up later with UGAT volunteers Mark Antony Abenir and Nerisa Dimapilis to join with ABS-CBN Foundation's and Dreams 71's Paul, Emong and Mam Vicky. Nerisa and the Dream 71 staff started debriefing as well that morning. Further plans for debriefings had to be cancelled as well in lieu of teh re-evacuations that are going on. The ABS-CBN team continued with their relief operations, soup kitchens (shall I say lugaw kitchens) and entertaining the survivors.

The team resumed debriefings December 10-11, 2006 and had an opportunity to visit ground zero at Caraga and Sto. Dominggo, as well as converse with the survivors.
The team left for Manila at around 6pm of Monday.

What are we waiting for this Advent?

Last November 25, 2006, UGAT conducted a Psycho-spiritual Intervention Seminar for Teachers for public schools in Montalban. This is the 5th run of the seminar, a joint project of UGAT and the Montalban local government.

In the spirit of formation, UGAT conducted an Advent Recollection for its volunteers. The Recollection was facilitated by Bro. Jordan Orbe, SJ and held at Valle Verde 4 in Pasig City (one of our long-time sponsor, Ms. Aurora Dee, generously lent her home for this event). Advent is a season of waiting, but do all of us know what we are waiting for? I hope we do, because waiting for Christ and His Kingdom to come is something that is guaranteed to give you joyous anticipation. The advent retreat was followed by a Christmas Party for the volunteers.

Mission To Rome

Fr. Nilo E. Tanalega, SJ and Jimleth Dulla went to Rome, Italy last November 13- 29, 2006 to give Peer Counseling and Family Ministry Seminars to Filipino communities there. The seminars were organized by the Sentro Pilipino-Chaplaincy of the Diocese of Rome under Fr. Albert M. Guevara, Jr., CS.

The seminars were as follows:

Orientation Seminar for Lay Pastoral Workers on Family Ministry (November 16 and 23)
Training Workshop on Counseling for Religious Workers (November 18 and 25)
Training Workshop on Peer Counseling for Family and Youth Volunteers (November 19 and 26)

The seminars were held at the premises of the Basilica di Santa Pudenziana, Via Urbana 160 in Rome.