We are proud to announce that we will be launching “Peace Journeys: a collection of peacebuilding stories in Mindanaw” tomorrow, during Balay Mindanaw’s 17th Anniversary Celebration. In it, we have collected 14 stories of communities and organizations who, despite the odds, have made moves towards peace in Mindanao.
Allow us to share what our President, Charlito “Kaloy” Manlupig has to say about this publication:
THERE IS HOPE
Two schoolchildren settle their petty quarrel on a “peace table” at the back of the classroom. A clueless soldier seeks out civil society groups to ask for help to bring normalcy in his area of responsibility. A schoolteacher from an idyllic place struggles to cope with war shock in her new home. Provincial officials venture to deal with security issues mainly on their own, and not have it done by the military. A mayor travels long distances on rugged terrain, even on foot, to put an end to a neighbors’ quarrel gone wild. Soldiers risk lives not in a shooting war, but in rampaging floodwaters to save lives other than their own. Tribesfolk want to run their lives on their own, not to be dictated by armed men from opposite camps.
They may seem so disconnected, happening in various places of Mindanao, but in the end, we see a connection in all those events, in all those little efforts to bring about peace.
As advocates would say, “Peace writ large.”
We at Balay Mindanaw know we cannot solve the world’s problems, cannot even settle all disputes in our own backyard of Misamis Oriental. But we know for a fact that there are hundreds, even thousands, of similar-minded organizations out there doing peacebuilding work. All of us together, we can make a difference.
When we first ventured into peace building, many among us questioned the move because we were doing it in the relative safety of our home turf although we have been telling everyone we strive for “Equality, Development, Peace for Mindanao, for the Philippines and
for the World.”
So we started venturing farther, to look at violent conflict right in the eye, in the middle of Mindanao’s hot spots. So these past few years, we have gone to Basilan, Maguindanao, North Cotabato, Surigao del Sur and Lanao del Norte – either on our own, or working with partners.
We now do direct peacebuilding work, sending community-based teams to help create spaces for dialogues in Aleosan in North Cotabato, in Cagwait and Lianga in Surigao del Sur, in Sio-an in Misamis Oriental. In other areas, we have partnered with likeminded civil society organizations, local government units, peace and order councils of provinces and municipalities, the military and the police.
Furthermore, our involvement in the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) of Misamis Oriental, and the small victories in the province, may look very local and area specific. Unknown to many, it is giving form and substance to an important national security policy of the Aquino Administration, that is, security sector reform. This is where PPOC initiatives on the ground get more meaningful as these provide the substance to a national policy.
The system and the way of doing things in the PPOC will hopefully become a platform to study other provinces and even municipalities to encourage national government to translate the policy into a national security strategy.
With the stories told in this publication, we want to highlight that even in these violent areas, there is hope.