ICF held a Tri-People Thematic Workshop in Mindanao

The ICF Tri-People Thematic Workshop on Peace Processes and Nonviolent Communication was held on January 13-19, 2019 at Crystal Inn, Barangay San Miguel, Iligan City, Philippines. Sixteen participants – Christians, Muslims and Lumad came. SoP alumni Baidido Saganding and Mohaimen Arba led the team building activities and closing ritual, along with Dunhill Maraya and Eugene Jamandron. The three topics were on the Nodal Points and Gains of the stalled GRP-NDFP Peace Talks, the gains of the GRP-MILF Peace Talks: Bangsamoro Organic Law; and Nonviolent Communication.

The ICF Coordinator stressed the need to appreciate the YMCA principle to engage in collaboration with different faith traditions in building peaceable communities. Although the peace talks between the Philippine Government (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is stalled, its achievements and nodal points must be highlighted. Ofel Cantor of the Philippine Ecumenical Peace Platform (PEPP) presented these points and the gains. The participants read and appreciated the documents agreed upon and signed by the GRP and NDFP peace panels. Consequently, the participants saw the urgency of calling both parties to resume the peace talks.

The peace process between the Government of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) led to the formulation of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). Tirmizy Abdullah, SoP alumnus and faculty member of a state university presented the history of the Moro people’s struggles and the contemporary issues faced by the Moro people, particularly the Meranaws who are displaced from their homeland Marawi.

Amina and Nathaniel Mambuay introduced Nonviolent Communication, and challenged the participants to learn and practice a way of communicating that does not lead to violence both to self and others. Crucial is learning how to communicate clearly their observations, feelings, needs, and requests. The participants expressed the realization that NVC is basic not only in peace processes and social discourses, but especially in daily life at home, and in the workplace.

The visit to the temporary shelters, traversing the abandoned roads and seeing the devastated once-beautiful Islamic City was heart-rending for all. The accounts of the witnesses of the siege of Marawi who now internally displaced persons (IDPs) were moving. They all are aching to go back to their homes in what is now called Ground Zero. Subsequently, the debriefing session was emotionally loaded. Everybody cried. Some recalled their experiences of evacuating, leaving their homes to avoid being caught in the crossfire. One shared how memories of her harrowing experience along with Christian classmates during the Marawi siege flashed back. Others articulated their pain as they imagined themselves in the situation of the Meranaws in Marawi.

The tear-jerking experience was balanced with the visit at the Aga Khan Museum of Islamic Arts inside Marawi State University, and the Dansalan College extension in Iligan. The main campus of Dansalan College in Marawi was totally burned during the siege. These visits were highlighted by acquiring the special permit to go inside the hydro-electric plant to see the gorgeous Maria Cristina Falls.

Muriel Montenegro

ICF Coordinator 

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