Peace Pole activities in The Philippines ~In memory of Mario Fungo

I remembered Mr. Mario Fungo, the Peace Representative from the Philippines, when I participated online in the first Global Peace Pole Day held on November 22, 2020; which was Mr. Masahisa Goi’s birthday. He contributed to world peace activities for more than 30 years, planted many Peace Poles, and passed away on the 22nd of March, 2020. I thought, “If he were still alive, how happy and proud he would have been to participate in this day! As one who had been in contact with Mario for more than 20 years, and had nurtured our friendship as soul mates, I felt the urge to express my gratitude for the activities with him.

Mario loved the Peace Pole so much. As far as I know, he has helped build more than 70 peace poles all over the Philippines, and I sent 45 of them from Japan. I myself visited the area five times and worked with many people to erect peace poles and hold peace ceremonies.

I was particularly impressed by the Peace Pole planting during the war memorial service held in Municipality of Bauan, Province of Batangas. I received an article in English about the massacre of Filipino civilians by the Japanese military at the end of World War II. My heart ached as I learned for the first time that more than 100,000 people had been killed in Manila alone, and hundreds of churchgoers in Bauan had lost their lives. I left for the Philippines alone with a heavy heart.

Mario has been building a network with many people through peace activities, and this Peace Pole was requested by a non-profit organization that wishes to transcend the pain of war and promote friendship between the Philippines and Japan. More than 300 villagers participated in the mass, followed by a requiem prayer ceremony, erection of the peace pole, and I gave a speech. Planting the peace pole with the strong determination for peace and the role of requiem had a really deep meaning. When I developed the photos, I found many orbs and mandalas (what looked like mandalas) in the air. Even now, a memorial service is held every year, and the peace pole is working as a symbol for peace.

On the grounds of a Catholic church, a Peace Pole was erected over the un-exploded bombs that the Japanese left in the Philippines. The students performed a dance with the message, “Let’s learn from war and keep the peace” while joining hands to sing a song of peace.
Mario had been interacted with friends who believe in different religions, such as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and the Baha’i Faith, and to bring people together in a sense of peace that transcends differences and nurtures the youth. I always found it wonderful to see the tolerance and cheerfulness of people expressing peace with dancing and singing.

At the kidney hospital, high schools and universities, Mario’s network was demonstrated by the planting of a peace pole. Every year, we held a Peace Ceremony and Peace Walk in conjunction with the UN Peace Day. I hope that people will continue to do so after Mario’s passing.

As a Peace Rep, Mario was always very active. He was very practical and showed his appreciation for plants and the earth by planting trees, for example. I also worked with him to teach the children about the importance of nature by planting trees and hiking with them. The peace pole that we built with the sisters who practice natural farming was also a result of Mario’s interaction, and they were grateful.

Continuity is power and treasure! I am deeply grateful to Mario for spreading the May Peace Prevail On Earth message throughout the Philippines, and continuing to sow the seeds of the importance of praying and practicing peace among many people, especially the youth. He is a friendly and warm person who has encouraged, helped and loved many people, and has been encouraged, helped and loved by many people in his life.

When Mario was hospitalized in March of 2020, the Philippines was already experiencing the Corona Virus. His niece Norma, who loved and respected Mario like a father, took the lead in taking care of him, until he departed on the 22nd. She gave birth to her fourth child, a boy, on May 3. His name is Shinjiro Mario. He seems to be a reincarnation of Mario-san. When I first met Norma, she was a high school student, and now she is a mother of four. It’s as if Mario is telling me, “Take care of them!

May peace be in the Philippines, May Peace Prevail on Earth. Mario! Thank you for your support from heaven.

Tomoko Ukai