My name is Ali Melicano from Mindanao, Philippines. I am a proud Maguindanaon. I am an ICF Alumnus. I have attended the Thematic Workshop (TW) in January 2019 in Iligan City, Philippines. I am also the Vice-President of a small organization called Peace Community Renewal on Ecological Entrepreneurship and Development (Peace CREED). Peace CREED Philippines was born on December 5, 2018, and it envisions developing the conflict-affected areas in Central Mindanao into a Peace and Reconciliation Community. An alumna of the Thematic Workshop and School of Peace 2019, Hamsiya Olimpain, is a co-founder of Peace CREED.
It is a great opportunity to share about my experience, along with our organization – the Peace CREED Philippines during the 17th TAYO Awards last February 10, 2020, in GSIS Theater, Pasay City Philippines. TAYO is an acronym for “Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations.” The TAYO Awards Foundation Incorporated is the only award-giving body that recognizes and supports the contribution of the youth in the Philippines. In November 2019, our semi-youth organization (“semi-youth” because not all persons in the leadership are young people), qualified for the area visitation and validation process by the TAYO Awards Foundation. The Visiting Team had a good impression of our works and advocacies, and we made it to the regional qualifiers. Among the ten (10) qualified youth organizations in Mindanao, Peace CREED Philippines was chosen as one of the Top 5 regional finalists. This gave the organization the chance to be among the National Finalists.
As Vice President, my colleagues gave me the responsibility to represent the organization during the final pitch of our project on February 10, 2020, at the Philippine Senate Building in Manila.
It was a great experience for me. I have learned so many things from my co-presenters that inspire me to do more initiatives in my community and in our organization. The event also provided me an opportunity to know some friends who could be our organization’s partner. I am so happy and proud that in our little way we were able to help other people, especially in our community. I am grateful to Peace CREED for the trust and for giving me the chance to represent and share our project. Representing our organization was a great responsibility because it was our chance to showcase our project and be recognized nationally. I was confident though that I can represent well our organization and its project. At first, I felt nervous because the group of finalists is composed of people from mixed backgrounds in terms of education, culture, and religion.
But looking back at my experience, I knew that I can do better because I know other religions, at least the basics. The knowledge I gained from the Interfaith Cooperation Forum (ICF) activities helps me a lot. It provided me a wide perspective on different cultures and practices of each religion. This gave me more confidence that I know somehow each practice. During the whole duration of the workshop event, I gained some friends from other religions. We treated each other with respect during our sharing. They understood me, especially when I practice my Salah (Prayer). My roommates were Christians, and every time I was about to pray they silently observed me. They turned off their phones and the TV in our room. I am very much thankful that I have the chance to share my religion, Islam, with others and they understand it.–Ali Melicano, Philippines