Episcopal  Commission  on  the  Biblical  Apostolate 

Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines

MTBO Highlights 2010

May They Be One Bible Campaign Highlights (2010)

May They Be One (MTBO) Bible Campaign is our response to the call of Christ to be ‘one,’ (John 17.21) since unity is vital for making the Word of God accessible, understandable, respected and lived. The Campaign aims to distribute Bibles at subsidized cost of P50/copy to 5 million poor Filipino families in 5 years (2009-2013) to facilitate moral and spiritual transformation throughout the country. We celebrated the Campaign’s second anniversary with an ecumenical prayer program and concelebrated mass officiated by His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal B. Rosales at the Manila Cathedral last Sept 30, 2010.

May They Be One has become a symbol of unity and cooperation (Bayanihan) among the Episcopal Commission for Biblical Apostolate of the Catholic Bishops Conference in the Philippines (ECBA-CBCP), Philippine Bible Society (PBS), and various parish and lay organizations involved in Bible ministry/apostolate and of Christian churches. The vision of May They Be One is to see a Philippines transformed through God’s Word and the ‘Bayanihan efforts’ of all Bible-loving Filipinos.

Thanks to prayers and generous support of our friends, donors and partners, the MTBO journey has been very encouraging. Following are some Campaign results:

  • Total coverage of Bible distribution – 307,788 poor families in 1,054 parishes/communities.
  • 2009 - 104,260 Bibles in seven languages to poor families in 417 parishes/communities
  • 2010 (as of Dec. 31) – 203,528 Bibles in English and seven Philippine languages in 637 parishes/communities
  • 77 out of 86 dioceses (89.5%) undertook May They Be One Bible distribution and Bible formation in their parishes/communities.
  • The five dioceses with the highest number of MTBO Bibles distributed in 2009-10 were as follows: 
  • Manila under Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales (20,525 cps.)
  • Malaybalay, Bukidnon under Most Rev. Honesto Ch. Pacana SJ, DD  (14,925 cps)
  • Maasin, Southern Leyte under Most Rev. Precioso Cantillas SDB, DD (13,355 cps.)
  • Jaro, Iloilo City under Most Rev. Angel Lagdameo DD (12,273 cps)
  • Dumaguete, under Most Rev. John F. Du DD (10,000 cps)
  • The remaining Dioceses which have no organized MTBO Campaign, include: Batanes-Babuyanes; Calbayog, Western Samar; Roxas City, Capiz; Catarman, Northern Samar; Libmanan, Camarines Sur; Masbate; Virac, Catanduanes; Tarlac; Taytay, Palawan
  • Bible Distribution by Languages (2010) – Tagalog (62,068 cps), Cebuano (57,689 cps), English (35,640 cps), Ilocano (19,589 cps), Hiligaynon (14,290 cps), Bicol (6,971cps), Pangasinan (3,858 cps), Pampango (1,423 cps) and Samarenyo (2,000 cps)
  • There are over 150 Bible Listening Groups (BLGs) in Catholic communities and parishes participating in MTBO Campaign – where participants listen to Proclaimer (dramatized Nw Testament) and read May the Be One Bibles.
  • Bible Production - Completed printing of 20,000 copies of Tagalog May They Be One w/o Deuterocanonicals.
  • Initial distribution will be to Chinese Christian churches. The Bible League also ordered 10,000 copies of Tagalog MTBO Bible as part of their Bible distribution in 2010.
  • Two partners – Couples for Christ and De La Salle University also ordered special print copies of May They Be One Bible for distribution next year.
  • Prayer Mobilization – May They Be One Prayer now available in eight languages.
  • Special Events – Friends of the Bible Dinner (April), Launching of Handwritten Unity Bible (Sept), Dedication of Bible Primer (Nov), Bible Relevance Seminars
  • Aside from the 12 ECBA-CBCP Regional Bible Centers, the number of our partners has been increasing:
  • Local Organizations: Catholic Women’s League, Couples for Christ, CEAP, LAIKO, Blessed be God Bible Sharing Group, United Church of Manila (UCM), National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), The Bible League, Catholic (CBCP Media, Radio Veritas) and Secular Print and Broadcast Media Organizations (GMA-7, CBN-Asia)
  • Supporting Bible Societies: United Bible Societies (UBS), Bible Society in Slovenia, American Bible Society, British and Foreign Bible Society, Bible Society in Australia (State of Victoria), Bible Society in New Zealand, Bible Society in Netherlands
  • Other Foreign Organizations (which produce audio Scriptures) – Faith Comes by Hearing, MegaVoice
  • Friend and Fundraising:
  • Total number of MTBO donors – 1, 703
  • Grew from 84 in 2008, 842 in 2009, (59 donors gave more than once); 777 in 2010

  • Nine out of ten donors are individuals (93.7%) – composed mostly of church members, PBS Board members, PBS members, staff and their friends; Churches, Parishes, Organizations (6.3 %)

  • Roman Catholics- 54.8% - The donors include the Papal Nuncio, several Bishops and priests, and laity from organizations (like Couples for Christ, Catholic Women’s League) but mostly individuals from the parishes/churches. An anonymous donor gave MTBO’s first P1M last Feb. About 20 donors gave at leastP40,000.

  • Protestants – 45.2% - A PBS Board member pledged P2M for the printing of Protestant May They Be One (w/out Deuterocanonicals)

  • Foreign Fundraising by John Bergin, UBS Asia-Pacific Fundraising Consultant
  • He presented MTBO to the Conference of 95+ Catholic Bishops of Oceania in Sydney to get their endorsement for a regional campaign covering all the countries in the area. 
  • Several Bible Societies have started planning for fund-raising campaign to support MTBO (American Bible Society, Bible Society in Australia, Bible Society in New Zealand, Colombia Bible Society) - based on the PBS model as a new initiative among Catholics in their respective countries.
  • In November, Bishop Arturo M. Bastes, SVD DD and Rev. Oscar A. Alunday SVD, went to Australia (Melbourne and Queensland) and Auckland, New Zealand to promote May They Be One among Bible Society Board members, partners, and donors, as well as Roman Catholic Bishops and Filipino Roman clergy and faithful. Initial feedback indicated the visit was successful in terms of generating enthusiasm among Bible Societies to work with Roman Catholic Dioceses and communities in supporting MTBO and providing Bibles to Filipino Catholics. BS in New Zealand has ordered English and Tagalog MTBO Bibles for Filipinos there.  (See separate e-mail)

Still Dreaming – 2011 Plans:

  • Target Coverage: 400,000 families
  • Handwritten Unity Bible Project – beginning 2011 (Natl. Bible Month) till Sept 2012 – to raise at leastP30M
  • “Friends of the Bible” Dinner-Fellowship (in coordination w/ BRIMS) – Manila, Dagupan/Urdaneta, Cebu, Davao and other key cities
  • Twining Program (CEAP affiliated schools, Corporations, Foundations)
  • Partnership with Protestants
  • Foreign Fundraising – Partnership between National Bible Societies, Catholic Dioceses and Filipino Catholic Communities and Organizations
  • Church/Parish-Based Fundraising
  • Promotion through Bible Relevance in Modern Times Seminars (BRIMS)
  • Special Events – Unity Golf Invitational (May); Unity Fun Run (June/July)

MTBO Stories:

At the conclusion of the last BEC series of sessions for new leaders in our parish —…Hardly a single one signed up for a free Bible.  Around ten percent signed up for the subsidized price of P50.  The rest wanted to shell out a little more, to make it possible for more people to receive the Bible at the subsidized price of 50 pesos.  I felt happy that they got the point.  I have made my orders already, and they are eagerly awaiting their copies.  At the moment, they still rely on loose photocopied texts of the Sunday readings for their BEC sessions.  I can imagine their joy when they finally receive their personal Bibles which they will use for study, for sharing, for prayer and meditation, and above all for guidance in their day to day lives.

These leaders are now my new coworkers and foot soldiers in the parish, for the Biblical apostolate.  They are like the seventy-two we hear about in today’s Gospel—who, after being nourished with the Word can now be heralds of the Word, and representatives of the Word made flesh.  How beautiful indeed are the feet of those who preach good news, of those who announce peace. (Most Rev. Pablo Virgilio S. David – Auxiliary Bishop of San Fernando, Pampanga)

Parish priest Rev. Fr. Gerard Ariston Perez, seeking to widen his borders in the spread of God’s Word, brought the May They Be One (MTBO) Bible Campaign not only to the Holy Guardian Angels Parish in Tuao, Cagayan but also to the rest of the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao.  Partnering with Biblical Formation teams, eight parishes started working together in June 2010 to distribute some 2,500 MTBO Bibles in their communities. Heads of families, trained to lead the 7-step gospel sharing method, led Bible sharing groups in their communities. TheSambuhay (missalette), which contained the Sunday Gospel, was the closest the people got to a Bible.  Now, MTBO Bible recipients are privileged to have copies of the whole Bible that they say they now read regularly. They recount that the regular Bible reading gave them a greater capacity to feel God’s love and experience His grace   and presence, especially in times of need and danger. The effects of the parishes’ united efforts in the    MTBO   Bible Distributions  are   now   being felt in the community, as the residents are now noticeably more open and generous to each other. They have also become actively involved in the concerns of their parish and its work in the community.

Fr. Antonio Ancheta of Gamu, Isabela, dreams of having each of the St. Rose of Lima parishioners in the 16 barangays under his care to get their own Bibles.  The need for Bibles became more apparent after he started a Gospel Sharing program last September 2009, where many attendees could not afford to buy their own copy of the Word.  However, a happy turnaround occurred when Fr. Ancheta joined the May They Be One Bible (MTBO) campaign, which made the Bible available to the poor parishioners at an affordable price.  At present, 320 families in his parish now have their own MTBO Bibles.  He joyfully recounted that through the MTBO Bibles, the people not only hear about Jesus – they also encounter Him for themselves through their own personal study.  Fr. Ancheta said that the people are now more responsive to the Gospel message; progressively applying in their lives the principles they learn. His parishioners have also become more prayerful and that church attendance has considerably improved.

May we be one in proclaiming the Word that shall not pass away!