The Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), through the offices of Assistant Secretary Datu Pendatun B. Disimban and Assistant Secretary Abdulsalam A. Guinomla and in collaboration with the Office of Asec. Virgilio R. Lazaga, hosted the “Ramadhan 1444H/2023: Solidarity Iftar Dinner” last April 15, 2023 at Sequoia Hotel in Parañaque City, Metro Manila.
Bearing the theme “Building Bridges for Stronger and United Cooperatives,” this first ever CDA-sponsored Iftar Dinner is part of the Authority’s solidarity and confidence-building initiatives for the Muslim community in their time of spiritual renewal, community gathering, and cultural celebration for a better and deeper understanding of their rich culture and its significance to the local and global community.
The event gathered Muslim and non-Muslim leaders from various organizations, especially the cooperatives, for the sharing of the Iftar meal, building networks and linkages, as well as promoting dialogue, mutual respect, and cooperation among people of different religious and cultural backgrounds.
In attendance were all of the CDA Board of Directors headed by Chairman Joseph B. Encabo, CDA Regional Directors, representatives of Billionaire Cooperatives, leaders of various Muslim communities, government officials, diplomats, and other distinguished guests.
A number of the Iftar Dinner guests delivered their solidarity messages, namely:
- Malaysian Ambassador to the Philippines, His Excellency Dato’ Abdul Malik Melvin Castelino;
- Secretary Lope Santos III of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC);
- Undersecretary Goddes Hope O. Libiran, representing Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM);
- CDA Undersecretary and Chairman of the Board Joseph B. Encabo;
- CDA Assistant Secretary Myrla B. Paradillo;
- CDA Assistant Secretary Virgilio R. Lazaga;
- Commissioner Datu Ras Lidasan, Jr., representing Secretary Guiling Mamondiong of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF);
- Gilbert S. Llanto, AFP (Ret), President of the National Alliance of Cooperatives;
- Andy Nestor Ryan Pazon, Chairman of the CMPLCoop Movement, and
- Mr. Rey Langit, representing Senator Robinhood “Abdulaziz” C. Padilla, who also had a recorded video message for the event.
Aside from the solidarity messages, the most significant parts of the program were the Quran Reading by Imam Mustapha Sultan who recited the Quran Surah 58 verse 6; the talk on “The Importance of Ramadhan and Solidarity Iftar Dinner” by Imam Aleem Said Basher, Chairman of the Imam Council of the Philippines; the declaration of the start of the Iftar by Imam Basher at 6:09 PM; the Call to Prayer by CDA ASec. Guinomla; and, the high point of the event – the conduct of the Maghrib Prayer for Muslims.
In his Closing Remarks, CDA ASec. Disimban, the main proponent of the activity, expressed his great pleasure and satisfaction for the success of the activity, which he attributed to the full support given by the CDA Board and Management. Likewise, he thanked all the attendees for their presence. He hoped for a similar but expanded Iftar event next year which he envisioned to include sharing of culture and religious beliefs to further promote mutual understanding, which is a precondition for the attainment of genuine and lasting peace.
Iftar is the meal taken by Muslims at sundown to break their daily fast during the monthlong Islamic holy season of Ramadhan.