My Peace Journey





My Journey



Date

Activity

Hosts/Contacts

October 11-13 , 2009

Sining Kabataan para sa Kapayapaan: A Peace Caravan

Mr. Jelor Pescadera

Notre `Dame of Kidapawan College (NDKC) Kidapawan City

October 14-16, 2009

Sining Kabataan para sa Kapayapaan: A Peace Caravan

Mr. Rey Catulong

Pikit National High School (PNHS)

Pikit, North Cotabato

October 20-22, 2009

-Sining Kabataan para sa Kapayapaan: A Peace Caravan

-Youth ECO-PEACE Camp Proper

Ms. Dee Bat-og

Southern Christian College (SCC)

CEREA

Midsayap Pilot Elementary School

Midsayap

October 26-November 1, 2009

-Sining Kabataan para sa Kapayapaan: A Peace Caravan

-YL-CUP Proper

Sr. Criselda Chea/PYC/PYA

IHA/San Isidro Labrador Parish

Dumalinao, ZDS

November 9-14, 2009

-Sining Kabataan para sa Kapayapaan: A Peace Caravan

Peace Advocate Zamboanga’s Community:

Don Pablo Lorenzo High School

Zamboanga City National High School

WMSU – Youth Leaders’ Congress

November 16-17

-Sining Kabataan para sa Kapayapaan: A Peace Caravan

Ms. Janeth Benitez

Misamis Occidental National High School

Mobod Integrated School


On the 10th day of October I decided and was determined to join as a volunteer of the BUC-MTYC’s programme, the 3rd Sining Kabataan para sa Kapayapaan: A Public Display and Peace Caravan Activity. From there I have assisted my SK partner Christian for the peace caravan and have extended to the greater youth the significance of peace through arts, the activity was also given in preparation for the Mindanao Week of Peace 2009. At first my personal understanding about the activity was actually having a big van with complete sets of artworks with props hanging, illustrating the festive scene of peace, the objective of course is to attract passersby. But actually it was far more different means; instead the caravan started with coordinations with various networks and links which totally embodies the true essence of communing with friends.




The 1st institution of the North Cotabato leg which we have visited was in Notre Dame of Kidapawan College (NDKC). The launching was held at the Student Center with the assistance from Mr. Jelor Pescadera, [i]PECSB Chairperson along with [ii]CAMP volunteers/students and the activity was attended by the College Dean and Marist Sisters (OMI). The institute had an exam during the display but it didn’t hold back the flow of students and teachers viewing the exhibit. We were very grateful for Mr. Jelor, Dean Yikyik and CAMP volunteers’ efforts who have made the activity a success.


From NDKC, we went to Pikit National High School (PNHS) with us was Mr. Rey Catulong, an active school theatre/band Director and a History teacher. The launching was held at the PNHS ground during the Flag Ceremony and the viewing occurred at the school stage. The school has a total of 4,000+ culturally diverse students with huge area conducive for teaching and learning experience. During the process we were overwhelmed by the system presented by Mr. Catulong and the School, they have organized and coordinated with History teachers who were in-charge for facilitating students, on the first day we have accommodated 1st and 2nd year students and the following days were 3rd, 4th year students, subject teachers and the school principal. We could say that the engagement we had with Pikit National High School has the biggest impact so far aside from the longest sessions, students were keen enough in exchanging stories with us and it is certainly an expression of extracted learnings and listening from the activity we had.


After the exciting experience at Pikit, on October 21-22 we had our way to Southern Christian College (SCC) in Midsayap, the team was billeted at the Global House through Ms. Dee Bat-og, [iii]CEREA Coordinator and a Peace Education Teacher at SCC. On the first day, Ms. Dee had assigned Precious Joy Jimenez a [iv]MTYC Midsayap Core Leader who took part during the exhibit to CEREAs’ community, the Midsayap Pilot Elementary School (MPES). At MPES, the team were surprised for the uncoordinated response from the school since SCCs contact was absent and the head of the school have overlooked the engagement however the team were able to spoke with the in-charge and luckily we have pushed through the exhibit and patched-up things well, at the end of the day we were able to share to the students the relevance of the exhibit notwithstanding the negative effect of disorganization which totally misplaced the sense of communication and coordination. On the second day, the exhibit took place at the SCC-High School Department from there Ms. Dee have given two volunteers, Kid and son Rajah Bat-og which have aided in setting-up the exhibit. In the afternoon the displays were transferred at the Science Building for the Eco-Youth Camp and the exhibit was given a special programme and was introduced by my partner Christian who manned the camp.




Four days after, The Immaculate Heart Academy (IHA) of Dumalinao, Zamboanga Del Sur was the next stop for the exhibit, launched at their Quadrangle during the flag ceremony with assistance from the Charles Borromeo (CB) Sisters Criselda and Sally. Following the programme was the viewing of posters which was held outside the Library lobby. Prior to that engagement the team had difficulties with the display for the reason that the invitation/programme was not relayed to the school-in-charge, the OIC denounced the said communication and left undecided whether to pursue the display. Good thing we were assisted by Deacon Jigger and ushered the team to Sr. Criselda Chea, a Junior Sister of CB-IHA, Sr. Criselda then instructed the OIC to review communications which was left untouched at the administrators’ bulletin board.


Following the stop for the Zamboanga Peninsula leg was the main City of Zamboanga “Asia’s Latin City as they call it. The Peace Advocate Zamboanga (PAZ), a non-government organization working for peace for almost two decades, prominent with their youth programme as their potent force for the Mindanao Week of Peace (MWOP) which was started earlier after the Bishops-Ulama Conference (BUC) adhered to the renowned Mindanao celebration was the newest MTYC network. The SK was integrated with PAZ Inter-school Peace Caravan and the launching of “I love Peace Volunteer Programme” but instead of following the “one-hour” per school scheme, PAZ through Sr. Emma and Aldrin Abdulrahim have chosen three schools for the said display. The first display took place at Don Pablo Lorenzo High School followed by Zamboanga City National High School –Main and next was at Western Mindanao State University during the “Young Leader’s Congress” which was participated by schools [v]SSG covering 17 partner schools of the Peace Advocates Zamboanga. The details of the integrated programme given by PAZ were composed of the Introduction of the winning piece, SK Orientation and re-awarding of plaques and certificates of the selected artworks.


Oroquieta is 6 hour drive from Zamboanga City, the next stop for the Sining Kabataan were I was welcomed by Ms. Janeth Benitez, an MTYC Core Leader covering Misamis Occidental. From there we were assisted by the Peace Team Circle – Oroquieta at the Misamis Occidental National High School during the flag ceremony were launching was held, we were also graced by the School Principal and the City Vice Mayor during the display and the re-awarding of the plaque of recognition to Ms. Mariam Adil as one of the top 20 was given. On the second day the display was transferred to Mobod Integrated School (MIS) one of the hinterland school in Oroquieta, the team were welcomed by the Principal Mr. Bualat which eagerly assembled his students from 1st year to 2nd year to view the displays. There was one student who drew poster no. 2, he explained that it’s like an Anime TV series Naruto that was one of the reasons why he chose it but in the latter I have expounded the meaning of the poster which the artist tried to portray and he nodded, he was the only person left late.


Reflection


Both students and teachers in all regions covered by the journey were very participative and amazed by the masterpieces of peace. They have shown great interests as to how the posters would relate to real lives, real peace situations, and the process were life has to go through especially living in Mindanao. Most of the question which was raised during the session was “What can we children/youth do to contribute for lasting Peace in Mindanao?” This was actually raised again in MONHS from Mrs. Benitez’s class, were I shared that “Peace in Mindanao starts in our very home, think of our family as a mirror of our beloved Mindanao, if we can’t pay respect to our parents, if we always fight with our brother and sister, if we don’t pray together how much more if we are going to situate ourselves to Mindanao problem… let us set as a good example and that mirror would reflect to our dear Mindanao and along with the process we could make a change and a contribution.” After the display Mrs. Benitez told me that she sent her students to asked questions as part of their daily exams and she asked about what I have told them, she informed me that those students were from the lower section and most of them has a broken families, after hearing it I really felt embarrassed and think that problems are meant to be solved by the one who experience and understand it not to the one who have just about to experience it nor who don’t have experience at all.. In a bigger picture the Mindanao problem will only be solved by Mindanaoan it selves not from others who just took part because they know it but doesn’t felt it, maybe it’s one of the reason why we seek for this elusive peace and have tried numerous solutions but still unanswered.


Apart from the statement above, things which had been commonly occurred during the sessions were staff/teachers from PNHS, MONHS, MIS and MPES had integrated the activity as part of their social studies, values (Makabayan) and MAPEH classes and even made it as an extension subjects. According to an English teacher from MONHS that “this is my first time to engage with these peace activities and honestly this have opened my mind, I have known several culture through these artwork, Oras na gyud! ”, this was shared during a conversation with Ate Kagat and the said teacher while watching students doing the extended activity.


I should say that a lot of firsts that I have experienced during my engagement with the Sining Kabataan Programme, I can never deny the fact that along with the journey there were discoveries and learnings felt and extracted, there were friendship built and treasured.


Aside from the longest trips, I have discovered the true beauty and bounty of Mindanao, vast lands and waters which I think if they were only shared there will be no conflicts and if only people were given space then there will be no displaced. I must say that I have been very reflective during my journey and who won’t be? After the cruised it took from “Iligan-CDO-Bukidnon-Davao-Cotabato-Pagadian-Zamboanga-Oroquieta-Ozamis-Iligan” I could say that it was the most significant road I have ever passed considering the Multi-cultural/Interfaith distribution in those areas, you would say amazingly great! It feels like it touches my own chakra that I am very thankful for the said life experience.


The people I’ve meet and shared work with, were the same people who became my friends and some became my best of friends, to name them would be the simplest recognition I can give; starting from my partner Christian who generously shared his personality with me which have made him easy to befriend with despite of a little misunderstanding on things to be done, it was on the latter I realized that he has health problem and I am really apologize for that.


The NDKC team has made our journey worry-free, Sir Jelor Pescadera through his hospitable aura with the three CAMP volunteers, Dean Yikyik who have shared her motherly love, the offering of breakfast along with his faculty and student borders.. We could say “thank you very much” we have brought big smile along with us leaving for Pikit.


Reycats as his close friends fondly call him welcomed us on his abode. Sir Rey, have shared his life on theatre, church, Gary Granada, music, bands, fraternity and even his life as an activist have made us more received. We could say that we are happy we have met him; he is a kind of person who has given time for everything yet still finds his way. It is really wonderful sharing stories with him; if you do you won’t consider time as your boundary.


Ms. Dee, Precious Joy and the rest of DYP and the Global House staff in Midsayap had been very instrumental in accommodating three venues for the Sining Kabataan, aside from that Ms. Dee’s motherly care is prominent, I asked to call her “inahan” and she answered “daghan namo”. It simply shows how darlingly hospitable Ms. Dee is.


CB Sisters Chea, Sally, Gloria, Agnes and the Dumalinao Parish Priest, Deacons, PYC and PYA Staff have warmly welcomed the team. Everybody’s effort is well-appreciated for a multi-celebration which was the success of SK and the Youth Camp.


Sr. Emma, Aldrin and Sosimo of PAZ for the accommodation they have given, welcomed MTYC to their community and interacted with their volunteers were the main objective I’ve achieved. Communing with them for one week made me realized how strong the bond they have, despite the false impression I had with them it was then cleared during the process which I have learned a lot from the partnership. I appreciate them so much for valuing work with their volunteers.


Marlon Grande of Silsilah Young Professional who have welcomed me in his abode, who have toured me around and filled me with stories about Zamboanga, he was my personal tour guide, driver and provider (which I felt ashamed of) but then what I saw behind was actually the spirit of friendship carved during the years of building dialogue with MTYC and Silsilah. He toured me at the Harmony Village sadly we arrived at dusk but it didn’t stop me, I was really amazed by the programme that they have through looking to its structures. From there, I have met “Mother Earth” she is really a wonderful person; she is the resident agriculturist of Silsilah Sustainable Agriculture Programme. As I listened and watched her she was very grateful with the flying serpent eagle and bats around the village, according to her, “these things have made my work beautiful, and those animals just signify how harmonious our place is”.


To Ate Bing and Ging who joined us with Jana and Marlon during a mouth-watering dinner at Palmeras and of course the crave-of-the-town the “Necker Bucker Glory”, it was really icy-fruity. The sharing we had after meals which brought us until 11pm, which was really good.


Ms Janeth Benitez, my dearest cousin who have supported a lot during the display along with the PTC-Oroquieta. I am grateful to have met them and her wonderful and happy family. Despite the busy schedule Ate Kagat had for the City Meet, she had her way offering great smile. She was able to organized students and teachers who were also very supportive to the activity. Muchas Gracias Con todos, con tedes!


Coordination is one of the significant elements in communication wherein it fuels dialogue and understanding. The coordination I saw in these journey has its highest level, it was actually an offering of self and services towards the partnership but maybe I have overlooked how friendship starts as well, as what I have learned the SK would not be possible without the friends and networks who were present and ready to share in the name of dialogue.


I have been very much attached to this journey and learnings have poured me floods, along with me was the enthusiasm to be taught and to discover life which has brought me wonderful experiences, and these experiences have ushered me to the right path. I think until the next and final leg these journeys will remain and will serve as a very memorable instrument for dialogue and establishing re/connection towards our aim for the community of dialoguers mindanao-wide and to the whole world.


Glengyl O. Umali

MTYC Volunteer


[i] PECSB – Peace Education Center and Solidarity Bureau

[ii] CAMP – Certified Advocates for Mindanao Peace

[iii] SCC-CEREA – Southern Christian College -

[iv] MTYC – DYP – Mindanaw Tripartite Youth Core – Dialogue with Youth Partners

[v] SSG – Student Supreme Government

TIMELINE

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