At the age of 49, I started to increase my efforts as a spiritual truth-seeker. Before that, in my early adult years, I was involved in social service work fields centered on peace and justice issues, but I was always attracted to spirituality. I acquired many books on religion and spirituality and one of those was The Urantia Book. I read a few papers that interested me but put it aside to become part of my classic book collection.
During my time of searching spirituality, I went to different study groups, teachers, gurus, and I checked them all. I did different types of spiritual and esoteric practices of meditation, affirmation, and prayers.
I also organized a spiritual forum in my home that attracted between 10 to 25 people. We explored all types of spiritual disciplines, from near-death experiences, Ascended Masters, spiritual healing, meditations, prayers, etc. One of the speakers we invited was James Woodward, who had worked in Reader Services at Urantia Foundation. He came to our meetings and gave us an introductory presentation on The Urantia Book.
It was around seven years ago that I finally asked my spiritual group who might be interested in studying The Urantia Book. Not everyone joined the new group but a few did. We hosted the study group for close to a year when we finally decided to be part of the more organized study groups, as none of us really had a comprehensive grasp of the teachings. We decided it would be more efficient and beneficial for us if we attended the two main study groups in the Chicago area.
Seeding The Urantia Book in the Philippines
Propagating The Urantia Book in the Philippines began five years ago with the idea of donating books to public and private libraries in cities, towns, barrios (villages), in high schools, colleges, and universities all over the Philippines. We also thought of translating the book into our own national language so it could reach the majority of the Filipino people. Tagalog is the basis of the national language. We also thought of a teaching school for those who are serious about expanding, leading, and facilitating a study group, possibly even an institution of learning such as an elementary, high school, college, or university level education guided by the ideals of the revelation.
We also considered the importance of the Philippines and why The Urantia Book should be disseminated there. The nation state is the only country in Asia where Christianity is predominant—around 90% of the total population of 104 million people. The rest of the population is divided into Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist, Bahai, Hindu, and native religions. Christianity is present in most Asian countries such as Korea and India, but the Philippines with 90 million has the largest number and also has the largest percentage of Christians in a single country.
English is widely spoken and is considered the second language of every Filipino. In other parts of the country where Tagalog is not spoken, they prefer English. Because of this, Filipinos can easily communicate with the outside world.
So if ever The Urantia Book will spread all over Asia, the teachings will grow from a friendlier religion, which in our view is Christianity. So our conclusion is that the Philippines is a strategic country if we are to propagate the teachings in the whole of Asia.
Another important idea we have to look at is that 10% of the population of the nation live outside of the country as migrant workers spread throughout almost all countries of the world. Organizing study groups with overseas migrant Filipino workers may also be a conduit of propagating Urantia Book teachings in the countries where they work.
So five years ago, we approached the Urantia Foundation and asked if they would donate books for distribution to libraries all over the Philippines. The Foundation was generous in donating 170 books in 2014. We have also received generous support from Urantia Association International.
The first time we distributed the The Urantia Book was in 2014. Our target location for distribution was the National Capital Region (NCR). This region is highly industrialized and the most populous region (12,876,253 as of 2015) in the country. The estimated population in NCR in 2017 was more than 13.3 million.
The second area of our distribution in 2015 is a group of islands in the central part of the Philippines called the Visayan Islands. The population of the Visayan Islands as of 2017 is roughly 20 million.
The third time we did Urantia Book donations was 2017. We targeted Northern Luzon, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon and Southern Luzon. These areas are the most populous and the biggest island in the country. The population of this region is 46 million.
The Fruits of Our Action
All our efforts of seeding The Urantia Book bear fruit as we gain more and more contacts. Our first contact was in Baguio City, a northern city in Luzon where we met a long time reader. We stayed in his house for at least two weeks and were able to establish a study group.
The next group that we made contact with was in Iloilo City located in the Visayan Islands. There we made contact with a long time reader, Ed Armonio. Subsequently, he organized a group of his friends at least three times to meet with us. He also helped us donate books in his city. Mr. Armonio became our main speaker to introduce The Urantia Book.
In Bacolod City, we also met the local branch members of the Theosophical Society after which they asked us to introduce The Urantia Book to their members. We hosted a forum with the topic, “What Happens To Us After Physical Death?” Some of the members of the Theosophical Society attended the forum. It is also because of our contact with the Bacolod branch of the Theosophical Society that we attended their national convention in Davao City in 2015. As a result of our contact with the Bacolod branch, we were able to speak in a forum held at their national office in the Manila area four times weekly in 2015.
In the year 2017 we accomplished the following:
- We distributed The Urantia Book in Northern, Central, Cagayan Valley and Southern Luzon’s top colleges and universities.
- Tightened up the organizational structure and responsibilities of the Metro Manila study group. Had weekly study meetings on topics such as the Thought Adjusters, the five epochal revelations, personality survival, the morontia worlds, and the policy of non-interference by the celestial beings in the affairs of man.
- We suggested adding two additional persons in the leadership position to make the Iloilo City study group ongoing even when the overall coordinator is out of the country. In addition, the mayor of one of the towns in Iloilo province with a radio program became a reader. He even announced The Urantia Book in his radio program.
- In Bacolod City, we organized a forum on the theme of “What Happens to Us after Physical Death?” which touches on the morontia worlds. A dozen participated in the forum.
- The Trustees of Urantia Foundation made it official and gave guidelines regarding the translation to the Filipino Language (Tagalog).
- Healing seminar and demonstration.
- We gave help in the logistics and financial needs to the Manila study group with the help of friends from Chicago who donated cash.
- We developed a one-year assessment of the past year and plan for the following year.
- We initiated meetings with family members of Urantia Book readers in Metro Manila.
- The visit of Pato Banton and his wife, Antoinette.
Trouble Shooting Problems in the Philippine Urantia Community
A big part of what we have done in the Philippines is to help troubleshoot problems that occur in the present while anticipating possible problems in the future. Something we consider is why a group of readers become stuck and will not move forward. Another challenge is with the initial contacts and new readers. How do we lead them to the next level of participation? Part of our answer is, when there are enough readers, we have to group them to be more organized as a regular study group. If none of them have a good grasp of the entire book, the senior readers have the responsibility of accelerating their knowledge so they will become better facilitators and leaders.
Foresight into the Future of the Movement in the Philippines
Our ideas on the main priority at the present moment are to have a systematic program on developing facilitators and leaders who can lead and guide a study group. But the capability of guiding a study group is: (1) the commitment, and (2) the knowledge of The Urantia Book itself. Hence our plan in the coming years is to have intensive study in the most comprehensive and efficient way that will shorten the time of learning. This, in our opinion, will be the basis of the call by the celestial beings to “foster thousands of study groups all over the world.”
In general we notice a generation gap within the Urantia movement. This is true even when we look at the Philippine experience. Our suggestion to lessen the gap is to recruit and train large numbers of young people, which will also guarantee the continuation of future leadership. We can start with our own families by imbuing the Urantia teachings to our spouses and children. Organization of young Urantia Book readers must be encouraged and fostered. We are also contemplating a Urantia Family Association to make the teachings a living, breathing way of life like that of the early Christian community.