Filipino Youth Build Peace Through Dialogue

Education

Filipino Youth Build Peace Through Dialogue

24 Jan 2013

MANILA, Philippines - Nine schools from all over the nation convened to discuss the recent Bangsamoro Peace Deal through a video conference last Dec. 13, a historic moment for youth dialogue on peace.

Over 50 high school students from Xavier School, De La Salle Zobel, Ateneo de Cagayan, Ateneo de Davao, ERDA Technical Institute, Manggahan National High School, Sta. Lucia High School and San Beda Alabang participated in the online dialogue moderated by Face to Faith, an organization that promotes understanding and respect among the world's major religions for global sustained peace.

Key points raised during the discussion centered on how the peace process is every Filipino's responsibility, how discrimination has set many Filipino Christians and Filipino Muslims apart, and how dialogue could be an effective channel for understanding across faith that could hopefully lead to a progressive and peaceful future.

The participants also discussed how nationalistic ideals of being Filipino can work as a uniting factor and how religions can bring us closer together. A student noted how both the Bible and the Qu'ran aim for peace, with the word Qu'ran literally meaning peace. Another student was even more emphatic when he said, "I was born a Filipino before I was baptized a Catholic."

Ian Jamison, the Face to Faith moderator from the United Kingdom, ended the session on an inspiring note. He expressed how proud he was that students from the Philippines are taking an interest in the peace process and could become, through greater involvement, effective catalysts for change.

More productive exchange and interaction through the Face to Faith online forum is expected to generate greater awareness and understanding of this social issue. Hopefully, the participating schools can team up to engage in social projects that are in line with the objectives of the peace talks.

The video conference was highlighted by an introduction given by Undersecretary Luisito Montalbo Executive Director of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process. In his pre-recorded speech, he clarified the Mindanao peace talks from the national perspective, stating that "The problem of those in Mindanao is not the problem of those in Mindanao alone, but of the whole nation. In the end, whatever good things happen in Mindanao will all rain down on all of us as Filipinos."

The Face to Faith program has been in the Philippines for almost two years now with Xavier School as the lead school and its president, Fr. Johnny Go, SJ, as the country coordinator. The Philippines is one of over 19 countries and territories involved, with more expected to get on board in the years to come.

Schools interested to join Face to Faith may contact any member of the Face to Faith Philippines coordinating team: Erwin Montojo or Marcial Lou Agtarap ( philippines1@facetofaithonline.org.), Jeraldine Ching ( jeraldinekching@xs.edu.ph.) or Melvin Gallardo ( melvinjgallaro@xs.edu.ph.). Patrick Wee is a Xavier School H4 student.

This was originally published in the Philippines Star.