The 2nd Southeast Asia Pacific Conference of the Order of Malta was held in Manila last October 14-16, 2011. There were 20 delegates in attendance: From the Grand Magistry, His Excellency Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager, Grand Hospitaller, and His Excellency Simon James Grenfell, Counselor, Government Council, His Excellency Anthony John McDermott Macken, President of the Australian Association with Dr. Ian Marshall, Hospitaller, His Excellency Michael Khoo Kah Lip, President of the Singaporean Association with Dr. Gabriel Oon Chong Jin., Chancellor, and Dr. Andrew Wai Mun Kwok, Hospitaller, His Excellency James Thomas Dominguez, Ambassador to Southeast Asia & The Far East, His Excellency Michael Douglas Mann, Ambassador to Thailand/Cambodia, His Excellency David Scarf, Ambassador to Timor-Leste, Mr. Justin Harkiewicz, Member, Australian Association (China), Mr. Bruno Clement de Givry from Ordre de Malte France and Charge de Mission for Asian Countries, Mr. Ingo Radtke, Secretary General of Malteser International, Germany, and Mr. Harald Schmid de Gruneck from CIOMAL.

The Philippine delegation was headed by the President, Don Ernesto B. Rufino, Jr. with Dr. Jaime V. Lapus, Vice President, Doña Odelia G. Arroyo, Hospitaller, Doña Delza V. Lazatin, Treasurer, Her Excellency Ambassador Leonida L. Vera, Ambassador of the Order of Malta to the Philippines and Dr. Leopoldo H. Lazatin, Member. Observers were: Doña Ma. Victoria A. Concepcion, Council Member, Doña Maria del Carmen Carag-Harada, Council Member, and other members of the Order of Malta namely: Dona Violeta D.R. De Luzuriaga, Don Antonio J. Montinola, Don Roberto D.L.R. Novenario, Doña Rosemarie M. Prieto, Doña Josefina P. Rufino, and Doña Lena L. Vera.

The theme of the 2nd Asia Pacific Conference, “Living the Charisms of the Order in the Asia Pacific Region Today” was divided into 2 parts, the “Obsequium Pauperum” portion and the “Tuitio Fidei” segment. The talks, discussions and open forum are best appreciated in a summary report on the event.

The Venice Conference of 2009 worked on the formulation of strategic plan, Singapore Conference of 2010 assessed capabilities and gaps, and the Philippine Conference of 2011 tackled localization and framework for collaboration, and as we go to Australia in 2012, we hope to eventually frame the implementation, coordination and cooperation of all the issues so far discussed in the last three conferences in particular those workable in the Asia-Pacific Region.

Among the regional projects are sourcing and distribution of basic medical supplies, provision of training events like disaster risk reduction training for both members and volunteers of the Order, more frequent communication between associations in the Asia-Pacific Region as well as those of Malteser International. The Grand Hospitaller also emphasized the need for a national and regional Obsequium Pauperum, where the core activities are held in common and ancillary activities are held less frequently as they are on a trial basis.

The Grand Hospitaller, His Excellency Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager reiterated that the twin vows of Tuitio Fidei and Obsequium Pauperum are the Order’s specific and essential call, they cannot be separated. This is what distinguishes the Order from a purely religious organization on one hand and from a purely humanitarian group on the other. Our work for the poor and the sick is not merely social work; it springs from the fullness and totality that is Christ’s love.

Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, DD, Magistral Chaplain of the Order of Malta Philippines, was speaker for the Tuitio Fidei segment, and he talked of nurturing the faith. Key points in his speech: faith is nurtured by humility, the proof of humility is compassion, compassion nurtures faith, selfishness destroys it, humility means seeing ourselves the way God sees us, the second food that nourishes faith is service, and finally, faith is nurtured by sharing it. Archbishop Socrates also reminded the Order of Malta delegates that because faith is a gift from God, it needs the nurturing of prayer, and among the prayers that stood out, he offers the Eucharist and the rosary.

Members of the Order of Malta Philippines took turns in entertaining the delegates in their 3 nights in Manila. Dinners were hosted by Amb. Leonida L. Vera, Dr. Leopoldo and Doña Delza Lazatin, Doña Teresita T. Liboro and a luncheon by Don Ernest B. Rufino. The 2 dinners included a short musical number by a Filipino soprano and flamenco dance number by Doña Teresita Liboro and her Spanish flamenco group, much to the delight of the delegates.

The conference ended with a high mass officiated by His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal B. Rosales, DD Archbishop of Manila, at the Order of Malta Chapel of the Order of Malta Philippines at R. Hidalgo St., Quiapo, Manila.

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