grounds for peace in Aleosan
By Belle Garcia
Hernandez & Froilan Gallardo / Posted 26 October 2011
ALEOSAN, North Cotabato –
Last Friday October 21, 2011, amidst the noise from media on the
violence in Basilan down south of Mindanao, a small community of
mostly Moro families in the town of Aleosan in the Province of North
Cotabato was making a peaceful sound as its men, women and children
celebrated the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a
madrasah school building.
Such a unique way of building
peace, an exceptional response to the call for peace not only for
Barangay Dunguan in Aleosan but also for the rest of Mindanao.
This barangay, located just
beside the Liguasan Marsh, had been through a long struggle with
land conflicts, poverty, underdevelopment, depression caused by
armed conflict between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the
Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Mass evacuations happen now
and then. The declaration for an “all-out war” by then President
Estrada in 2000, and later the eruption of violence after the
aborted signing of the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain
(MOA-AD) between the government and the MILF peace panels in 2008,
further aggravated the situation.
Belle Garcia Hernandez
For the residents of Dunguan,
who have been continually threatened by the long-standing conflict
in Central Mindanao, the madrasah is a symbol of peace. It was a
dream come true meant for the children and the next generations to
“This is the most important
thing that happened to our village. We now have a school for our
children,” Dunguan Barangay Chair Mholds Suga said.
Suga said it has always been
a dream of their village to have a sturdy building for their
madrasah, because they never had a building for the madrasah before,
just utilizing a dilapidated building with no walls for the children’s
“Madrasah is important for
Muslims. This is where our children first learn to pray and learn
Arabic. When a child learns Arabic, he can then read the Koran,”
“We believe this
undertaking will promote greater understanding in this village. This
is a very meaningful collaboration of agencies and NGOs in
conflict-affected areas,” said Paul Paraguya, executive director
of Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Inc.
Aleosan Mayor Loreto Cabaya
said he was glad that various agencies and organizations came to
help fulfill the dream of the villagers in Barangay Dunguan.
Belle Garcia Hernandez
“Building the madrasah will
bring back the trust of the villagers,” Cabaya said, noting that
the village bore the brunt of the 2008 fighting between the
government and the MILF.
Apart from the villagers and
community leaders, the ceremony was attended by officials and
organizations willing to help.
The municipal government of
Aleosan led by Mayor Loreto Cabaya committed for the painting job
and to provide facilities for the school once the building is
completed. The 40th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army,
headed by LTC Roy Gallido, willingly offered his soldiers to provide
labor along with the community laborers. The Balay Mindanaw and
ABS-CBN Foundation’s Sagip Kapamilya promised to contribute for
the construction materials. The Mission Station Parish Council,
Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, the women contingent of the
Civilian Protection Component of the International Monitoring Team
and the youth group are totally in support of this peace-development