Pioneers in Cebu, Philippines
We arrived in Cebu on April 12th after spending a week in Manila. Radhesh prabhu (long time devotee) picked us up from the airport and brought us to Anjali didis house (she was initiated by Gurudeva last year via skype). Anjali is a little fireball. Her home was given to her by her parents and since they have lived here over 40 years, the entire neighbourhood knows her. Lots of people are always coming in and out.
Every time I have come to Cebu it’s a new batch of devotees. I have always felt Cebu is sort of nomadic. I was thinking this time, “What is our purpose here.” There are a few new young men that attend the programs everyday and very enthusiastic. Syamarani didi suggested we go out on book distribution. They chose a park in the middle of businesses to go to. The four boys, Anjali, two young girls (Manjari and Krsna-priya) and Govinda-priya and I all went to the park. It was all of their first time distributing books.
They were all naturals and despite their being so shy, they immediately approached the people and were able to distribute the books and small posters that we had with us. The Philippines is extremely Catholic and so the people were very much attracted to the painting of Damodara-lila because it is a Mother and Child.
The devotees were so excited and encouraged by their success. They said they felt Gurudeva’s blessings with them and wanted to go again. We showed them the movie of Gurudeva’s class here in Cebu in 2009. The last thing he told them was:
“I request that you read my books and the books of Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Maharaja. You should also distribute these books. This will be your service. Syamarani has made so many pictures of Krsna, and others have made some as well. You can sell them as well. This will be your service.”
Then something incredible happened. After Radhesh prabhu heard about this successful evening of book distribution he informed us that he had many books of Srila Prabhupada at his house that he would donate to the new sankirtana army. He got them after the Iskcon temple closed. We went to his house to see them and lo and behold, there were hundreds and hundreds of several titles – The King of Knowledge, Life Comes from Life, Higher Taste, Easy Journey to other Planets and a small Teachings of Lord Caitanya. I was overwhelmed by Gurudeva’s premonition about Prabhupada’s books. We also brought small posters with us which through the GVP sponsorship program we donated to them to get them started and to support their book distribution. Being a third world country, the Philippines is a very poor country.
We went again on Sunday to the market area in the neighbourhood were Anjalis house/center is. The market was so disgusting and smelly – killing chicken and fish on the spot. We started a kirtan and some of us distributed books at the same time. I could feel the whole environment change and the air become purified by the boys chanting. So many people said to us, where have you been for so long (the Isckon temple closed several years ago). Just as Gurudeva ordered and predicted – numerous books of his and Srila Prabhupada’s went out to the suffering souls of Cebu.
We all got on the jipney to return home and continued blissful kirtan, and when I closed my eyes and chanted, the tune and mood reminded me of the early Prabhupada movies I have seen and I was thinking, it is a new era here in Cebu and these new devotees are going to do so much for the community and to spread Mahaprabhu’s movement here.
Srila Gurudeva ki jaya! Srila Prabhupada ki jaya! Harinama-sankirtana ki jaya! Transcendental Book Distribution ki jaya!