Balay Mindanaw Peace
By Kaloy Manlupig, 18
here for photos of the Peace Center launch
Another dream came true.
Marking another significant
milestone in its nine-year old journey, Balay Mindanaw
inaugurated and dedicated on January 18 its new Peace Center in the company of
friends and leaders representing various sectors and partners coming
from different parts of the globe.
Japanese Minister of Economic
Affairs Tetsuya Ishii and Adviser Munateshi Ishida represented Japanese Ambassador Ryuichi Yamazaki
formal turn-over rite. The German Development Service
(ded-Philippines) Country Director, Mr. Christoph Dehn,
formally turned over facilities of the Peace Room, a resource
center for peace-building and development work. The Peace Center and
the facilities in the Peace Room was formally presented by Mr.
Ishii and Mr. Dehn as gifts to the representative of Balay Mindanaw’s
local partner-communities who in turn requested Balay Mindanaw to
be the steward of these resources.
The day began with an
ecumenical Eucharistic celebration jointly presided by Fr. Loreto
“Oret” Villahermosa, who was a Balay Mindanaw community organizer
before becoming a Catholic priest, and UCCP Pastor Toto Baconga, who
is considered a member of the Balay Mindanaw family being the
husband of Charmaine Dagapioso-Baconga, the new Executive Director
Barangay Bulua Chairperson
Pedro Legaspi welcomed the guests to the morning
conference. Ms. Sylvia Okinlay-Paraguya, BMFI and MINCODE
Chairperson, delivered the keynote address. Key leaders and local
government executives shared their insights and
perspectives on peace and development. Among the speakers were Misamis Oriental
Gov. Oscar Moreno, Rep. Danilo Lagbas, Sugbongcogon Mayor Benedict Lagbas, Claveria ABC
President Pempe Casiño and the Chairperson of the GRP Peace Panel
with RPM-M and former Iligan City Mayor Franklin M. Quijano.
The other highlights of the
whole-day program were the launching of the Balay Mindanaw
website and the Stakeholders’ Forum where Balay Mindanaw friends
and partners renewed their commitment and support to
Balay Mindanaw’s peace-building and development work.
Christian Aid Philippine Representative, Arthur Neame, Konrad
Adenauer Foundation Philippine Representative Klaus Preschle,
Lutheran World Relief Philippine Representative Gilda Echavez,
Shinwa Management Systems President Higaki Yusuke, and other special
guests such as the representatives from GTZ and Geneva Call delivered solidarity messages and statements of commitment.
The Peace Center is expected
to help Balay Mindanaw fulfill its mission of helping build
empowered sustainable communities, and helping build peace in
Mindanao. It is intended to be an integral part of the continuing
peace-building and capability-building programs of BMFI by providing
a physical venue for the continuing interventions towards peace and
development. Its construction began in January 2004 with a grant of
P4.5Million from the Japanese Embassy through its Grants Assistance
for Grassroots Projects (GAGP).