29 May 1991 San Paulo, Brazil: Chiara Lubich launches the EoC to help resolve social inequalities in that land. Today Asia celebrates the 25th anniversary
by Jose Aranas
from "Economia di Comunione - una cultura nuova" n.43 - Editorial insert of Città Nuova no. 7 - 2016 July 2016
"We are celebrating this 25th anniversary here in Asia," said Luigino Bruni, "because within 15 years, the Asian share in GDP will be twice that of the United States and Western Europe combined. The future of the world depends on the type of economy that will grow in Asia. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the EOC here is to recognize that its presence in Asia is crucial today."
The week of events began on 23 and 24 May in Manila, at the prestigious University of Santo Thomas (UST) with the International EoC Youth Forum which attracted 200 participants from various countries and also from the university itself, students of economics and business who presented their own various social undertakings. To strengthen relations between the two institutions a memorandum of understanding between the EoC and UST was signed.
When Teresa Ganzon, the first organizer of the event was asked whether Asia and particularly the Philippines could host this international conference, she was hesitant, it seemed to her that the local EoC projects were small. During these days, however, it was rather obvious that the EoC companies here are flourishing, as confirmed by the presentation of some of the following: the Bangko Kabayan (trans.: fellow countryman's bank), a rural bank in the province of Batangas (Philippines) that allocates micro-credit to more than 11,000 customers; woodworking Focolari Carpentry in Manila which, together with the business consulting company Ancilla Inc, first joined the EoC in 1991; or Kalayaan Engineering, a manufacturer of air conditioners with more than 2000 employees; or the Sumsimdang group that has been running one of the best pastry shops in Korea for 60 years. Noting this "flourishing", Anouk Grevin comments: "This is the harvest time."
On 25 May, the celebration moved toTagaytay City, where the Pan Asian EoC Congress began, attended by 300 delegates from different countries of Asia, with a large group of Koreans. In his talk on the theme of the conference: "Economy of Communion, an economy for everyone", Luigino Bruni described the EoC as a vocation and recalled the biblical figure of Noah and the "call" that he received from God to build the ark and save humanity. The economy of communion can become the ark that preserves and brings the wealth and vocations of the charisma of unity to humanity.
The group of presenters included several economists, among them Anouk Grevin from France, Italian Luca Crivelli from Switzerland, Anette Pelksman-Balaoing, a Philippine scholar who has been working in the Netherlands for years, Irish Lorna Gold, Luigino Bruni, the international coordinator of this project and others, and also the well-known Philippine Senator Bam Aquino, who spoke on the topic: "The government as a facilitator of social enterprises."
On 28th May, the "celebration of the 25 years" took place: after the songs and dances of a typical Barrio Fiesta Filipino (village festival), at 21.00 a direct link with other celebrations of the 25th anniversary in Bolivia, Italy, Mexico and Slovakia was provided, while the rest of the world could follow it inlive streaming. "In a world without reasons to celebrate," said Luigino Bruni, "the Economy of Communion is the miracle of the celebration of universal brotherhood!"
An opinion from Korea: "I have understood that the EoC is the only way to liberate men and women from modern financial capitalism." And another one from Bangladesh: "The EoC is a possible solution for a better world." The congress ended with a joint commitment to be producers of communion, always closer to the poor to really affect their lives.