5 Questions with Floyd P. Lalwet
1. Who are you?
Floyd P. Lalwet, Provincial Secretary of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines.
2. Where are you finding hope during the time of COVID-19?
If the question refers to the source of hope as we cope with this crisis, then I would say that it is the worshipping community of which we are a part because it is in this community that we pray and care for and uphold each other.
People are saying that this COVID-19 pandemic is a reset button for humanity. Indeed, despite the gloom and sorrow that this crisis has brought, we see very significant bright spots suddenly appearing within our horizons that we hope we will collectively appreciate, protect and uphold as the new normal when this has passed.
I have a small farm in Nakawang up in the mountains of Besao, Mountain Province where I go at least once in two months to be healed by the peace and calm much needed by my weary soul, constantly battered by the highly stressful life in the big city. For the whole day, I could listen to the soothing songs of birds in that mountain hideaway 10 hours drive from Manila.
For the past almost 40 years, I have studied and resided in Quezon City. At the Cathedral Heights compound of the Episcopal Church where we now live, we still have so much trees and vegetation around but over the recent years, the sight and sound of birds have become less and less as the smog that envelops the city gets thicker every day. Three weeks after the lockdown, however, I woke up a number of times feeling that I was up in Nakawang. No, I am in Cathedral Heights and the signing of birds have come back. It now greets our mornings and livens up our day as we stay at home to keep ourselves and others safe from the virus that has turned our world upside down.
I do not know up to what extent the life of our city has come back. From “dead waterways”, “dead air” and “dead communities”, life is coming back and we see these in corners, streets and homes in social media postings. There are so many other positive things and advocacies of the ECP being realized at this time. I really find hope in this situation and I pray that many people will realize that we can actually turn the world upside down in favor of life and a renewed earth.
3. What is your community’s greatest strength?
I believe there are various strengths of our communities that are enabling them to cope with the challenges posed by the covid-19 pandemic and that these can not be easily ranked as greatest, greater or great. It all depends on the particular context as well as the specific issues that are being addressed. Some of these strengths include: our culture of being together and finding strength in and caring for each other; our ABCD approach to community welfare and development; our approach to DRR which involved providing alternative livelihood skills to our people, who are now utilizing these skills to generate income even while staying at home. At the same time, some of our cultural strengths make it difficult to come up with alternative ways of worshipping together. For example, our greatest joys and hopes are expressed collectively and physically in a group or in a community. That’s why it remains a challenge for us to find full expression of praise, worship and thanksgiving in live-stream services when we are actually physically apart from each other. Also, our offerings are given as part of an actual ritual or celebration. When we do not celebrate together, how can give our offering in a way that reflects our full sense of praise and thanksgiving.
4. Why is being a part of the world-wide Anglican Communion important to you?
As various church leaders have said, we are in this crisis together. Our being a part of the Anglican Communion is very important to us as we are assured that we are not the only ones suffering and at the same time we are not the only ones praying and working for God’s continuing care and blessings on all people. This is a time when we need to get out of the box to be able to work within the limitations imposed by the pandemic but getting out of the box is, of course, the most difficult thing to do as, for one, certain courses of action would need to have or evolve a strong theological foundation. This is one area where we value our part of the Anglican Communion because there are vigorous and progressive theological reflections, debates and guides on some of the crucial issues that we certainly benefit from.
5. How can we be praying for you and your community?
On the request of USPG, its General Secretary will be joining a live-streamed service of St. Luke’s Episcopal Cathedral of our Episcopal Diocese of Central Philippines on May 3rd. Since we already have Bishop Ernie Moral of our Diocese of Southern Philippines preaching on that live-streamed service, we would not have the General Secretary preaching but he will be giving a message during the service. This is a great way of being in solidarity in prayer and worship.
Find out more about The Episcopal Church in the Philippines on their website: https://ecphilippines.com/