In the local dialect “Dula [doo-la] Napud Ta Bai” means “Let’s play again, friend,” and this was abbreviated to “DULA TA Bai.” Joops Miranda, one of the youth organizers, explains: “The event is meant to promote awareness of each individual’s ability to become a catalyst for a more united world. It desires to help strengthen interpersonal relationships and build new ones. It aims to encourage dialogue on current issues among young people from different communities, in a fun setting. We hope to accomplish this through the many sports and recreational activities that will be offered. This underscores our final goal, which is to unite people of varied ethnic origins, nationalities and religious beliefs, to become a family.”
Where did the idea for Dula Ta Bai come from?
Joops recalls: “In the summer of 2014, with some friends, we were wondering how we could avoid wasting another summer sitting in front of a computer screen, playing with our personal tablets.
So we thought: ‘Why not spend a whole day (which then became three days) doing different physical activities together —things we do together, out in the open air, inviting the local community to join us?’
Two months later, there were 200 of us together from several parts of the Philippines.” Basketball, volleyball, light exercise, football, Frisbee and the ever-popular “Amazing Race” are some of the events offered at Dula Ta Bai.
Then, an evening program called “U-Nite” concludes everything with music and story-sharing. The young people wondered how to develop the second event: “The renewal of our way of thinking and doing, also plays a vital part in approaching Christ’s prayer “that all may be one (Jn 17:21),” Joop explains.
He continues, “So we incorporated the concept of ‘environmental conscience’ (‘Pagkabana sa Kalikupan’). We’re trying to respond to Pope Francis’s appeal in Laudato Si’ which reminds us of Mother Nature’s cry, and we wanted to help promote an integral ecology. An integral ecology, as the Pope explains, is an ecology that isn’t concentrated only about nature while leaving out humankind and its needs, but it rather concerns a ‘human’ ecology.
“Therefore, following this line of thought, we hope to convey to the other young people the value of caring for one another (through sports, cultural, musical and artistic activities), as well as caring for the environment.”
As the theme for this year's Dula Ta Bai was "Pagpakabana sa Kalikupan," or environmental awareness, all activities of the Dula Ta Bai were centered on this theme. Somehow, it has helped foster within the participants a sense of mindfulness of the environment; people were more conscious about keeping their surroundings clean and disposing of trash in the proper places.
But people also began to develop a deeper understanding about care for the environment, that is, that it didn’t only mean looking after it; it did not only mean looking after the trees and plants around or keeping our surroundings clean; it also meant loving our neighbor who is, in a way, a part of the environment. People looked after each other, cared for one another, and even forgot themselves out of love for the other.
Gerome Diaz, a Focolare youth from Cebu, shares his experience: "I like to compete when it comes to sports, especially basketball. But while playing the sport, I was surprised at myself, that my competitive spirit didn't get the upper hand; I didn't find it hard to love. I told myself that everything I'd do would be just for fun."
The Dula Ta Bai was truly a success. It gave people some of the best memories of their summer. It deepened their environmental awareness. But most of all, it helped them experience a new way of doing things. Who would have thought that mutual self-giving love could exist even in sports and recreation?