Posted by: thebluemusicblog | August 26, 2015



It was just one of those days, one of the selected few. Or maybe even more than that. A jewel of a day. A unique day. One of those days you have not seen before. Everything came together and it was a dream coming true. It was confirmation and inspiration and much more than I had expected or even hoped for.

We are training 150 Change Agents from 60 countries onboard Ocean Dream, the Peace Boat. We started sailing from Yokohama Friday the of August and we have sailed for 5 days without seeing land.


The day started strangely, with an unusual incident. I was early up and went walking around the 9th deck, the so-called sports deck. You have to do it early, if not the track gets clogged and difficult to maneuver. Too many people deciding to do their morning gymnastics in the middle of the walking track. Having finished my rounds, I found my favorite table on the 8th deck, outside, the table with panorama view to the sea around us. Drinking my early morning coffee I observed all of a sudden a tiny little boat, it looked like a canoe with a little engine behind.


The canoe came closer to the ship and it looked like the guy was going to sail into the side of the big ship. He stood up and waved with one hand several times. I did not understand what his idea was, so I turned back to my coffee and looked behind where the ship was making a straight line behind us. Then I observed all of a sudden that this straight line stretching towards the horizon was no longer straight at all, meaning that the ship was making a rather dramatic bend, deviating from the set course and slowing down the speed of the ship. I looked back at my friend in the fishing boat and understood to my big surprise that this Philippine fisherman with his gesticulating arm had been able to push our big ship away from its course. I looked closer, and then I saw what he was protecting. There was a black flag approximately where the ship had been heading. He had his fishing net there and wanted to protect it. Our ship responded and minutes after the ship was back on the same course. But the livelihood of a fisher was saved. It was an amazing experience.


Later that day we docked in Cebu, Philippines, and this meant the time for our first exposure to the local YMCA and a local college with more than 3000 students. Our Change Agents were to be tested on their skills in meeting students and interacting with them. They divided themselves in several smaller groups and each group took responsibility for a large group of students.


The interaction went very well, there were conversations and discussions, exercises and group games and a lot of laughter and smiles around. We went from the college in busses to the city hall where the mayor of the city of Talisay had invited us for a cultural collaboration between Change Agents and local students. It was a three hours marathon with excellent dancing and singing from the local young people and cultural expressions from Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America, Middle East and of course from Asia and Pacific.


It was a unique experience. For the first time as far as I know, the World YMCA was travelling with 150 young leaders from 60 nationalities to visit one local YMCA and experienced a growing friendship and interaction between the different groups. We helped one another, we sung with the choir and they danced with our folkdance groups and at the end a huge group of young people was one massive crowd singing and shouting and dancing to the Village People YMCA.


This was the first time the Change Agents were traveling together as one group, and doing youth work as one group. Now they are staying the night at the YMCA hostel and tomorrow they are going to participate in different YMCA programmes facilitated by the local YMCA.


It was a great confirmation that the concept works, that young people are able to establish rather deep going contacts within a time frame of a few hours.


I was invited to give a short speech to the crowd, and apart from thanking our friends and giving some plaques to people who had helped prepare this great experience, I basically shared my experience from the same morning, when I saw a Philippine fisherman almost physically pushing a big ship away from his fishing net. This is the journey of discovery the YMCA is undertaking just now. It is a journey to establish more unity, more visible unity and using the focus on Youth Empowerment to do this.

We may seem small and insignificant, like the little man in the small canoe. But if we have courage, if we join hands and use the language we have, including body language, we may be able to push away big, dangerous ships of injustice, of threats and dangers, push it away from the young people we want to give dignity and freedom, the young people we want to defend and fight for and fight together with.


We have this strength, and today I saw it, today I experienced it, I felt it.

Tomorrow we sail on for several days with the course set for Singapore.


  1. thanks for the news greetins to Romulo I understand he’s on board


    from YS men Board Genevea

    Invar Vallin, Ernest Riesen, Tinna R!oss (29 yesterdays, booming) and myself.







    > Message du 27/08/15 02:57 > De : “Blue Music Blog” > A : > Copie à : > Objet : [New post] A JEWEL OF A DAY IN CEBU, PHILIPPINES > >

    thebluemusicblog posted: ” It was just one of those days, one of the selected few. Or maybe even more than that. A jewel of a day. A unique day. One of those days you have not seen before. Everything came together and it was a dream coming true. It was confirmation and inspirat”

  2. Thank You, Johan, for another Beautiful Blue Music Blog.. I will share this information with my Y colleagues

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