Sunday, September 27, 2009
“Indigenous Peoples Forging Partnerships for Unity and Peace of One Family of God”
Malaybalay, Philippines - In the first tribal summit in Mindanao, which brought together more than 40 tribal chieftains along with educators, politicians, representatives from international NGOs, and religious practitioners from Christian, Muslim, and indigenous peoples, there was a new focus. They did not discuss terrorism, politics, military strategies, or arms control. Instead, they directed their energies on children’s education. In a word: peace for the sake of others, for our precious children.
Dr. Estrella A. Babano, Chairwoman of the Mindanao Peace Initiative and Region 10 Director of Department of Education, declared before an audience of over 250 people, “We must focus on our children. They are the common concern we all share, and this must be the framework and platform for our peace initiative.” Babano went on to outline eight peace programs that highlight this youth-centered approach:
• The Peace Village is an out-of-classroom, residential program using a total immersion technique to have people experience different cultures and ways of life.
• The Arabic Language & Islamic Values Education program teaches children, both Muslim and non-Muslim, that Islam is a religion of peace.
• The Indigenous Peoples Education Center aims at functional literacy for underprivileged people to help uplift their self-esteem and enable them to advance socially.
• School of Peace educates administrators and trains teachers about the inherent value of each of the various peace programs available; then, on this foundation, it organizes Peace Education Centers using school systems.
• Harvest of Hope has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministries of Fisheries to train 240 Mindanaoans in aquaculture and fish processing.
• Child of Peace is an adopt-a-school scholarship program working through the Department of Education.
• Kids say “No” to Guns, billed as “turning arms into farms,” has children “surrender” their toy guns for saplings which they plant throughout the southern Philippine island.
• Peace Parks makes learning fun as small groups of eight to ten students visualize and then construct themes related to peace.
In the Opening Session, Dr. Chung Sik Yong, the Regional Chair of the Universal Peace Federation–Asia and special representative of the Universal Peace Federation Founder, Dr. Sun Myung Moon, said that, “the Universal Peace Federation sees ‘leadership’ as one of the most critical issues facing our world today, both in developed and developing nations.” He emphasized this by saying that good leadership was essential to peace and social development precisely because a good leader must emulate the qualities of a good parent—absolute unselfishness.
Florencio T. Flores, Jr., the Mayor of Malaybalay and host of the two-day Summit, said he eagerly responded to the Mindanao Peace Initiative invitation because “without peace, there is no development.”
The city of Malaybalay is in the heart of the island of Mindanao, and the mayor was very grateful there had not been any bombing in the city so far.
The highest ranking educator attending the summit, the Under Secretary of the Department of Education Program on Indigenous Peoples, Dr. Manaros B. Boransing, presented an overview of the national curriculum that was developed to preserve the culture of all indigenous peoples throughout the Philippines.
Commissioner Jeanette C. Serrano-Reisland, the Ethnographic Region of Central Mindanao at the National Commission on Indigenous People, gave current data on the various tribal groups in the Philippines. She also praised President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo because although the ancestral domain legislation was passed 12 years ago, President Arroyo was the first to implement it by issuing land certifications. Dr. Norma Gonos, Senior Program Officer for Indigenous Peoples Education, described the components of the Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao experience, which concentrates on improving education for indigenous peoples.
In the afternoon session on the first day, Mr. Massimo Trombin, the International Vice-President of Service for Peace, delighted the audience when he told them that the Global Peace Festival was conceived in and born in the Philippines in 2006. The chairman of the Global Peace Festival, Dr. Hyun Jin Moon, was deeply touched by seeing the Filipino lifestyle that integrated Eastern and Western cultures.
Here the vibrant love for music, singing and dance is accompanied by the spirit of family where everyone is a Tito / Tita (uncle or aunt) or Kuya / Ate (older brother or sister). Filipinos immediately embrace so-called strangers as family, encapsulating the spirit of the Global Peace Festival with its motto of “One Family Under God.”
Finally, Dr. Robert Kittel, Director of Education for UPF-Asia, pleased the multicolored crowd dressed in native costumes by saying that UPF had a very simple solution that would ensure peace in one generation — marry your enemy. It may take time for parents to love their in-laws, he said, but there is an instantaneous, irrepressible love between grandparents and grandchildren that bridges any historical resentment.
Two events highlighted the second day: a morning workshop where delegates drafted resolutions for the “Mindanao Tribal Summit,” followed by a Global Peace Festival (nearly 35 such festivals have been held throughout the Philippines this year).
Over 200 participants performed skits, prayed, sang, and danced.
Concluding the two-day program at the Kaamulan Cultural Center, tribal chieftains signed the “Mindanao Resolution,” and 25 Ambassador for Peace certificates were distributed.
This Mindanao Tribal Summit and Global Peace Festival September 26 and 27 were sponsored by the Universal Peace Federation, the Department of Education, the Province of Bukidnon, and the City of Malaybalay.
Further photo reports of other events: