I am sitting at my daughter’s dining room table looking out the window. I am always struck by what I can see when I am high up on top of something. It gets me thinking about how space is arranged within cities and how at times diverging or even opposing parties find themselves adjacent to one another.
There is a house immediately behind the condo building that has two prominent, colourful, pictures of Jesus — one on the garage and the other beside the front door (you can see them in the photo above). I should point out that having a picture of Jesus on the front of your house is not at all unusual in Metro Manila but in this instance it seems like a different message is being portrayed. Then I noticed that on the next street over was a small Iglesia ni Cristo [Church of Christ] chapel and I realised that this particular area has an abundance of members from that church. The Iglesia ni Cristo is a Filipino new religious movement whose main location is just a few minutes down the road. Because of this reality I suspect the homeowner is sending a message to their neighbours: We are Roman Catholics in this house.
Thinking along these lines got me to take a closer look at the other spaces I could see. The largest part by far is indeed taken up by the properties of the Iglesia ni Cristo. Sticking up from the greenery of the surrounding mango trees is the new hospital, media center, member apartments, and university. A little further around we can see the main worship center with its grand spires.
Immediately behind the INC site is the beautifully-treed University of the Philippines Arboretum. The space, although transited by a 16-lane highway, is connected to the greater University of the Philippines, the premier university in the Philippines and the place where three members of my family went to school.
Immediately in front of the vast INC estates lies the Culiat Muslim Compound, an islamic community made up of people whose primary origins are in the far south of the country. The space contains a large community of people and is also home to at least five mosques.
Several Roman Catholic orders also occupy adjacent space including the Augustinians who have a variety of training centers and chapels, the Claretians who include the Claret Seminary, the Claretian Missionary Sisters, and the The Institute For Consecrated Life In Asia, and the Adorers of the Blood of Christ with their St. Maria de Mattias Center Inc.
There is also the smaller Our Lord’s Temple Ministry compound squeezed in between these different groups.
Interspersed in between these various institutions are houses and homes occupied by people from all walks of life. From the wealthy members of exclusive subdivisions to the poorer members of various informal communities squeezed in between other more formal establishments.
What is interesting is that while there are a variety of religious beliefs, practices, and traditions represented, at the core they are all interested in making the world a better place. I wonder how the different beliefs impact this desire?
Another question it raises is how such diverse groups manage to survive beside on another. Certainly the niceties of modern societies prohibit any overt forms of harassment from one to another. I wonder if there is any cooperation between these groups as they try to make the world a better place?
Which, of course, leads to a question that is relevant to whoever is reading this blog: How do we survive in close proximity to others with divergent beliefs, practices, and traditions? Any suggestions or examples from your own life? Please comment below.
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Image is mine.