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The International Day of Vesak

Friday, 20 May 2016

  Excellencies, Venerable Monks, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:


The Philippines is truly honored to participate in the 16th Year of celebrating the International Day of Vesak – commemorating the birth, enlightenment and passing away of Buddha.


            Sixteen years ago, when Member States adopted UN Resolution 54/115 which recognized this important event, the Philippine Government issued Proclamation No. 24, declaring the full moon day of May of every year as Vesak Day. This Philippine initiative was also in keeping with our policy on fostering interfaith dialogue as an instrument to promote peace and security.    


            Buddhism was introduced in the Philippines between the 7th and 13th Century. Buddhist statues and artifacts unearthed all over the country from this era supports this fact. And Buddhism has significant linguistic influences on the Filipino language: Budhi or “conscience” is from the Sanskrit word bodhi;  Sampalataya or “faith” is from Sanskrit, sampratyaya; and  Guro or “teacher” is from the Sanskrit word, guru.


Today, around 2% of the Philippine population are Buddhists. While the Buddhist community is relatively small in the country, the Philippines still ranks 20th in the world in terms of Buddhist population. In major cities of Manila, Cebu and Davao, Buddhism is practiced and propagated alongside other faiths and religions, reaffirming an inclusive Filipino society.


As we celebrate Vesak Day, the international community is gently reminded to effectively address complex global and regional challenges which, from a Buddhist perspective, deal with the three (3) dimensions of peace: “inner peace; peace in the community of humankind; and ecological peace.” 


Excellencies: The international community, through the United Nations, has achieved so much in the last 70 years in promoting peace, security, human rights and sustainable development.


Through continuing dialogues and major platforms, we strive to achieve inner peace in our respective countries, communities and with our neighbors. Through setting-up of universal goals under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we keep our eyes on the horizon for mankind’s enduring benefit.  And through our infinite capacity to do good and to take a leap a faith, we leave our comfort zones to enter into landmark agreements or partnerships, whether on climate change or financing for development.


As we continue to build the peace within us and around us, may the teachings of Buddha continue to inspire us in transforming our world into one of compassion, respect and understanding; a world with balance, healing and purpose.


Thank you.