Quaker Religious Thought


I was born in the Philippines, and except for several international academic and research fellowships, I have been living in MetroManila for my whole life. I am a peace and political psychologist in the Psychology Department of Ateneo de Manila University, a Jesuit-owned academic institution. I identify my religious orientation more as a Jesuit Quaker rather than a Catholic Quaker. In the first half of my adult life, I was in a political movement against the Marcos dictatorship. I founded and led Lingap Bilanggo (Care for Prisoners), a national movement for the freedom of all political detainees. Many of my friends were arrested, tortured and killed. As a political activist, I personally experienced painful organizational divisions with deep debates on violence versus nonviolence, on whether to work with a new democratized government or stay outside governmental confines.

In the second half of my adult life, and perhaps to console my heartbreaks and disenchantments, I turned to academic work. I publish papers on psychologies of nonviolent democratic transitions and peacebuilding in Asia and the Global South, and I am leading a research lab on Analytics for Democratization.

I first met the Quakers in 1991. On sabbatical leave from my home institution, I was then a research fellow at the Peace Research Centre of the Australian National University, writing on peaceful negotiations during coup attempts.1 Our Peace Research Centre received an invitation from Canberra Friends House to a workshop on nonviolent strategies to resolve conflict. The activity was run by visiting Quakers from Northern Ireland. Because of this workshop, I was drawn to the Quakers and started attending their weekly Canberra Sunday Meetings.

I returned to the Philippines after a year’s stay in Australia. Eventually, I lost touch with Canberra Quakers. However, I revisited Australia in 2010, to work in La Trobe University on a research fellowship. I reached out to the Northern Suburbs Friends Meeting in Melbourne, and there attended Sunday Meeting regularly. When I returned to the Philippines, I semi-lost touch again, except for my connection with one Melbourne Friend. But I was really drawn to the Quakers since my Melbourne experience. To make a long story short, I formally joined Friends in 2011.



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