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Sowing Seeds of Peace in Guam

Guam hosts the Eighth Latte Peace Festival, promoting friendship and peace, at Tamuning Park, Jan. 18. (Top) Tamuning-Tumon-Harmon officials, performers and SGIUSA members take a commemorative. Photo by Carol Clayton. photo in front of the Daisaku and Kaneko Ikeda Peace Monument, Tamuning, Guam, Jan. 18.

On Jan. 26, 2020, SGI members worldwide commemorated the 45th anniversary of the Soka Gakkai International’s founding on the island of Guam. Marianas Region hosted its own gathering to celebrate 45 years and make a fresh departure in this significant year of 2020. The World Tribune sat down with the Marianas Region youth leaders to learn more.

World Tribune: Thank you for meeting with us, Bella and Patrick! How did Guam celebrate the 45th anniversary of the establishment of the Soka Gakkai International?

Patrick Salas Jr. (Marianas Region Young Men’s Leader)

Patrick Salas Jr. (Marianas Region Young Men’s Leader): Hafa Adai! (Hello! in Chamorro, the native language of Guam). Thank you for the opportunity! To mark 45 years, we held a commemorative meeting on Jan. 26. Just over a week earlier, we participated in the Eighth Annual Latte Peace Festival, a community event that promotes peace, friendship and cultural exchange, which reconfirmed for us the importance of having a presence in our community. In the hours leading up to our commemorative meeting on Jan. 26, the weather was gloomy with heavy rain. As members and guests arrived at the SGI Guam Community Center, their determined prayer filled the room, and the weather began to clear.

After an invigorating gongyo, an introduction to the practice of Nichiren Buddhism was shared. We talked about the meaning of the day, heard a powerful experience and saw a heartfelt performance by the elementary school division. Following the meeting, the sun was shining and the air was breezy, with no clouds in sight. To commemorate this significant day, we took two photos, one in front of the center and another across the street on the shores of the beach. After members safely departed the gathering, rain covered the island the rest of the day.

WT: What incredible timing! How are the members of Guam advancing at this historic time with SGI President Ikeda?

Patrick: There is a great sense of excitement among the members! We were so fortunate to receive a message from President Ikeda, commemorating this day. Sensei encouraged us to win now more than ever, and when members heard these words, both smiles and tears covered their faces.

WT: How moving. We understand that a new SGI center in Guam is scheduled to open early next year. What is the determination of the members toward this milestone?

Bella Fagota (Marianas Region Young Women’s Leader)

Bella Fagota (Marianas Region Young Women’s Leader): The new Guam Buddhist center will serve as the physical representation of our mentor’s desire for a better, more peaceful world. Our island was the sight of incredible violence and horror during World War II. Our sense of mission comes from knowing that we are the ones who will transform an era of war and disregard for human life into one of peace for future generations.

Patrick: During the war, thousands of lives were lost in Guam. Because of this, we hold these words from President Ikeda close to our hearts: “Guam has a profound mission to serve as the starting point for world peace” (Feb. 6, 2015, World Tribune, p. 2). On the monumental day of Jan. 26, 1975, Sensei said: “Rather than seeking after your own praise or glory, I hope that you will dedicate your noble lives to sowing the seeds of peace of the Mystic Law throughout the entire world. I shall do the same” (The New Human Revolution, vol. 21, p. 33). Many local members have shared that they use this guidance to win in their daily lives, based on our Buddhist philosophy of respect for the dignity of life.

Bella: We are deeply appreciative to be fighting for kosen-rufu at this time in Guam! In his message, Sensei urged us: “Burning with youthful passion in the places of our mission, let’s herald our victorious advancement and the emergence of capable people, proudly proclaiming, ‘Watch me do my human revolution!’ ‘Look how we are expanding our kosen-rufu movement!’ ”

Alongside the amazing members of Marianas Region, we are determined to help seven youth begin their Buddhist practice this year and become happy and victorious! We all realize the significance of being comrades in faith in Guam at this point in history. We know that our missions, each unique, are somehow intertwined through our shared vow to spread this Buddhism. Together, we will make history!

Front row (l-r): Judith Won Pat, former speaker of the Guam Legislature; Olivia Saito, SGI-USA Youth Leader; Josh Tenorio, Lt. Gov. of Guam; and Tina Muña Barnes, speaker of the Guam Legislature, join SGI Guam representatives at the Governor’s office for a proclamation ceremony in recognition of the 45th anniversary of the Soka Gakkai International. Photo by Kathy Alegria.

Construction of the new SGI-USA Buddhist Center in Guam has begun and is expected to be completed in early 2021. On Jan. 13, SGI-USA Youth Leader Olivia Saito accepted a resolution acknowledging the Soka Gakkai International’s efforts over the past 45 years. This resolution also recognized SGI President Ikeda and Mrs. Kaneko Ikeda for their continued dedication to promoting world peace. “The members in Guam have so much pride to be a part of the SGI,” Ms. Saito said. “I also saw how much the people of Guam know about the SGI and respect the members and their presence in the community.”

The new Buddhist center will serve as a home for the Guam members, the international members who visit the island and all of their friends and neighbors.

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