Mindanao Youth Peace (MYPEACE): A Testimony of Advancing Peace in Mindanao
A friend send me this "A Dream of Peace does not became a reality through magic, it takes hard work" and I remember the experience I had with the first Batch of the MYPEACE held in University of Southern Mindanao (USM) in Kabacan, North Cotabato last January of 2008.
Four Years ago, I took the challenge of being involved in the historic event of a three-week intensive program geared towards letting the youth understand better the untold realities of Mindanao Struggle and be able to craft visions to make this reality more meaningful filled with instruments- Peace, Human Rights, Justice and Environment.
The training revealed various stories that motivated us youth- peace advocates and missionaries of our own community to not just understand the history of Mindanao Conflict that until now had been prevalent concept of misunderstanding but to let us realize the importance of appreciation of one's difference from one another and finding common grounds to the culture of peace.
Organized by BALAY Rehabilitation Center, we were living in one HOUSE referring to History of Opportunities and Understanding for a Solid Experience. The theme focused on giving us more appreciation of what's with the real score of the Mindanao's Peace Situation.
The House that hoisted our level of understanding one's History yielded me more inspirations. Within the training, I remember sharing my own points on the Mindanao Struggle and upon hearing view points of others, our own understanding have been enriched and further cultivated into a more beautiful garden of peace.
Hearing from Mindanao's Historian to other peace builders, I committed myself that my knowledge will be transmitted to the next generation to come. Which, I had been doing until now. Mindanao, being the land of promise is the land of everyone. Every individual having been domiciled and permanently residing here should strengthen our own culture. It is an important element in the path to peace.
The MYPEACE is an opportunity. It gave us youth better avenues to explore and rediscover who we are and how we situate ourselves amidst the crisis of the society. With the integral understanding of one's being, a strong foundation for peace, human rights and justice were integrated.
Understanding what makes us so unique from one another and without disregarding own identity is one of the fundamental right of us as individual. The right to self-determination which and been misrepresented and misunderstood by many gave us the better attitude to fight for what is due to us.
Meeting various people from all faith and traditions is another great opportunity. It is because in this way, we enhance our own critical thinking to better analyze situations and be careful of our own prejudice.
The Solid Experience which I can never forget includes the following: 1. Youth Participants coming from varied backgrounds and orientations who met and dialogue with one another for a better understanding of peace; 2. Inspiring Facilitators and Resource Speakers who shared several concepts and challenges and influenced us to be more committed to our causes of peace; 3. Living in one House and being together in the spirit of Solidarity; 4. Strangers Bonding turned to be familial that until now we are still connected; 5. Exposures and Opportunities which did not just awakened us but develop a deeper sense of strengthening ones disciplines for the most vulnerable and marginalized and most especially those victims of war and prejudices.
What happened to me after the MYPEACE?
I remember disclosing in many public hearings, seminars and peace education trainings that the experience I had in MYPEACE had been very integral to who I am right now. It motivated me to pursue the law school where I am about to graduate. I had been continuously monitoring the peace process of the GPH and the MILF as well as elevated engagements at the Mindanao Level.
Before, upon representing Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ), I was the Youth Coordinator but at present I am the Executive Coordinator of the bigger movement named Interreligious Solidarity movement for Peace affiliated with the Mindanao Peace Weaver. Having said that, the engagements we have does not just limit us to operate locally but nationally.
Connections were better off this time after re-building more connections to various networks in the Philippines and Internationally. After MYPEACE, I was able to represent the Country in the United States of America and Hiroshima Japan and had been bringing the lessons learned from MYPEACE at certain point. Moreover, I remain humble with the many blessing God poured on me throughout the years.
MYPEACE will always be a part in my way of life. My goal as I pursue my DREAM to become a LAWYER OF PEACE is to be motivated to excel and always find more inspirations to work hard and love my craft. Reaping the fruits of my labor will soon be harvested if many people will really appreciate the cause of why we need to make peace as a way of Life.
OUR PEACE will not PROSPER if you don't have a MYPEACE.