MANILA, August 8, 2013—Six Swiss youth leaders from Jungwacht and Blauring (JuBla), Switzerland got immersed in Filipino culture during their visit with Filipino counterparts last July 16 to August 2. 

Themed “Tuloy Po Kayo!” meaning “Come in!” which what Pinoys typically say when they want to invite someone to enter their homes, the Swiss youth leaders visited  Manila, Cebu, Infanta in Quezon and Baguio City. 

According to Atty. Marie Gutierrez of Chiro Youth Movement, the Swiss youth leaders expressed early on that they wanted to spend more time with Filipino host families to see the people, learn the culture, social problems and the way of life, as they are. 

“They wanted more time with host families and did not mind that they always had to wake up early for the long trip. The program on the other hand was well balanced, according to them. They expressed when they arrived that they did not like to travel like tourists but as missionaries where they can immerse with the communities, see the people, culture, social problems and our ways of life as they are,” Gutierrez said. 

The Swiss youth leaders were welcomed at the San Fernando de Dilao Parish where Chiro leaders serenaded them with Pinoy songs. 

During their visit, they distributed uniforms to pupils of Sto. Niño Pre-School in Infanta, Quezon and participated in the Nutrition Day. 

They also stayed with fishermen and went fishing with their families. 

In their trip to Baguio City, they shared a cultural evening with Chiro leaders and CICM seminarians of Maryhurst with Fr. Tony Tanchioco. 

From Baguio, they went straight to Cebu for the children’s day where they handled activities for 100 kids in Danao City at the Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Parish and participated in a community mass with Fr. Roel Marigomen, the parish priest. 

On July 29, they had breakfast with Cebu Auxiliary Bishop Emilio Bataclan who warmly welcomed the youth leaders and exchanged stories about the Philippines and Swtizerland.

The youth stayed with host families in Argao, Langtad, and Sangi where they spent time with the families. They met again in Oslob for a trip to the sea for a live interaction with the whale sharks. 

Still in Cebu, they went to the minor seminary for morning prayer and breakfast with young seminarians of the Pope John XXIII Minor Seminary in Mabolo

According to Jonalyn Molina, head of Team 4 of the Chiro International Committee, the Swiss youth leaders had a positive evaluation of their entire visit, saying “it was a good and balanced program, all in all. And will continue the partnership exchange with Chiro in the future.”

She said the Swiss youth also had an interaction with mental patients a day before they left for Switzerland. 

“It turned out that some of them are nursing and medical students. They all eagerly went to a nearby mental ward in Tanza, Cavite, and spent some time talking to the patients,” Molina shared.

According to Chiro leaders, the visit was a unique experience for all involved. 

“We had a good exchange of activities with them and even got attached to them. Friendships were formed after. Each batch is always different but their batch is truly a very good one. They were able to adjust well with our Pinoy way of life,” Molina furthered. 

The partnership has been in existence since 2006 where Jubla youth leaders were able to see and understand the realities of the Philippines and the Pinoy youth. 

Each youth movement take turns in visiting the other country. In 2006, Chiro Philippines visited Jubla Switzerland; in 2007 Jubla visited Chiro; in 2008 Chiro’s Team 2 visited Jubla; and in 2009, Jubla returned to visit Chiro. 

Team 3 of Chiro visited Switzerland in 2010 while Jubla Team 3 visited the Philippines in 2011. Chiro Team 4, all of them students, visited Jubla last year. 

Jubla and Chiro are organizations under the International Federation of Catholic Parochial Youth Movements (FIMCAP) which supports encounters like partnerships and roundabouts among different member organizations. (Jandel Posion)