FOR a change, members of the election watchdog group Cebu-Citizens' Involvement and Maturation in People's Empowerment and Liberation (C-Cimpel) will meet today and not work.
Only thanksgiving and celebration are on the agenda.
This church-weaned, non-partisan people's organization was born of the first EDSA People Power Revolution in 1986 and has been a vanguard of credible elections and participative democracy across Cebu.
In its 17 years of service, meetings of C-Cimpel members have always been about the tasks at hand, whether election watch duties or parish-based seminars.
Even fellowship meals were preludes to discussions about work and operations.
So when the core group broached to a fellow volunteer the idea of gathering to simply celebrate their 17th anniversary, she said ?Thank you, you were finally enlightened by the Holy Spirit!"
Today, Msgr. Roberto Alesna will read a message of greeting from Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal. Then Judge Gabriel Ingles, a founding core group member, will introduce the guest speaker, Pampanga Gov. Eddie "Among Ed" Panlilio who will talk about "Empowering People for Active Citizenship and Good Governance" to about 500 C-Cimpel volunteers at the Sacred Heart Center in Cebu City.
The volunteers?38 of them service awardees?will gather from almost all Cebu municipalities and cities.
Today will be a celebration for everyone who has been a part of the civic group, but being festal will not distract them from persevering in their thrust.
They will pray, feast on good food, watch a historical Powerpoint presentation and listen to songs from the University of Cebu Chorus and the Order of Saint Augustine's Fr. Vic Amplayo.
Panlilio's presence and message is expected to further inspire the group's advocacy of maximizing Cebuanos' contribution to governance from the barangays.
Priest-on-leave Panlilio was selected as speaker for his success in partnering for governance with ordinary citizens in Pampanga.
The Inquirer Filipino of the Year 2007 awardee reset Pampanga's political landscape when he ran for the governorship and won against a well-oiled traditional political machinery of his rivals.
His stay in office is owed to the vigilance of provincemates resisting maneuvers for his removal that have been counterweighing gains like a P120 million surge in lahar revenues in his first half-year in office.
"We have to monitor our elected officials through membership in the barangay development councils and participation in barangay development planning," C-Cimplel executive director Marilu Chiongbian told .
She said the C-Cimpel movement she helps lead is not just a poll watchdog but remains active in between election periods as a a formator of people's consciences for responsible citizenship.
For now, however, when asked what lies in store for C-Cimpel in the coming years, she laughed: "Allow us to celebrate first!"