Dann Pantoja

Dann Pantoja is beginning to use his Tagalog indigenous name -- Lakan Sumulong. This is a statement that our indigenous identities can be a redeeming factor in healing our 'being' (that is, who we are as a people); help symbolize our determination to contribute what we ought to be 'doing' as a nation (that is--active, non-violent, radical transformation); and, determine how we will prioritize what we will be 'having' (that is, inclusive growth and national development based on justice and peace). Asked what fuels his positive outlook in life: “It’s the influence of Jesus, a first century Palestinian carpenter who was executed by the imperial power of his time. He said: ‘Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.’ Jesus defied the ultimate negative factor in our cosmos--death.”

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Apr 15 2018

I REITERATE MY PROTEST AGAINST THE WESTERN BOMBING OF SYRIA

As early as September 2013, PeaceBuilders Community have expressed our voice against the US intervention in Syria. This banner was published in our online communications outlet when the war in Syria was just beginning.

As I worship the Great Creator today, my main prayer is for justice, protection, and peace for the civilians in Syria. I cry for the 500,000+ who died in these conflict. I cry with their families. I lament the fact that majority in the West are supporting the lies that are being fed through the Big Media. I cry in prayer against the current actions of the governments of the United States of America, United Kingdom, and France to advance their greed for wealth and power — that is, petrodollar hegemonism.

I’m aware of the danger of a polarized understanding of this very complicated armed conflict. But then, in the final analysis, I have to listen to the discerning voice of the segment of the global Body of Christ in Syria. I also respect the witness of my fellow Christian peacebuilder on the ground, Rev. Fr. Andrew Ashdown, who is also a priest at The Church of England.

And so, at the height of the debate on the ethics and legality of the recent air strikes by the governments of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and France, I’m expressing my solidarity with the leaders of various Christian churches in Syria.


A Statement Issued by the Patriarchates of Antioch and all the East for the Greek Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, and Greek-Melkite Catholic

Damascus, 14 April 2018

God is with us; Understand all ye nations and submit yourselves!

We, the Patriarchs: John X, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, Ignatius Aphrem II, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, and Joseph Absi, Melkite-Greek Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem, condemn and denounce the brutal aggression that took place this morning against our precious country Syria by the USA, France and the UK, under the allegations that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons. We raise our voices to affirm the following:

  1. This brutal aggression is a clear violation of the international laws and the UN Charter, because it is an unjustified assault on a sovereign country, member of the UN.
  2. It causes us great pain that this assault comes from powerful countries to which Syria did not cause any harm in any way.
  3. The allegations of the USA and other countries that the Syrian army is using chemical weapons and that Syria is a country that owns and uses this kind of weapon, is a claim that is unjustified and unsupported by sufficient and clear evidence.
  4. The timing of this unjustified aggression against Syria, when the independent International Commission for Inquiry was about to start its work in Syria, undermines of the work of this commission.
  5. This brutal aggression destroys the chances for a peaceful political solution and leads to escalation and more complications.
  6. This unjust aggression encourages the terrorist organizations and gives them momentum to continue in their terrorism.
  7. We call upon the Security Council of the United Nations to play its natural role in bringing peace rather than contribute to escalation of wars.
  8. We call upon all churches in the countries that participated in the aggression, to fulfill their Christian duties, according to the teachings of the Gospel, and condemn this aggression and to call their governments to commit to the protection of international peace.
  9. We salute the courage, heroism and sacrifices of the Syrian Arab Army which courageously protects Syria and provide security for its people. We pray for the souls of the martyrs and the recovery of the wounded. We are confident that the army will not bow before the external or internal terrorist aggressions; they will continue to fight courageously against terrorism until every inch of the Syrian land is cleansed from terrorism. We, likewise, commend the brave stand of countries which are friendly to the Syria and its people.

We offer our prayers for the safety, victory, and deliverance of Syria from all kinds of wars and terrorism. We also pray for peace in Syria and throughout the world, and call for strengthening the efforts of the national reconciliation for the sake of protecting the country and preserving the dignity of all Syrians.


May the Great Creator strengthen the will of the Syrian people to stand up against the war-mongering greed for oil-and-weapons-based wealth and political-military-media manipulations of the superpowers who are interested to have control over Syria.

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2018/04/15/i-reiterate-my-protest-against-the-western-bombing-of-syria/

Mar 09 2018

JOJI TRAVELS TO DO CANADIAN MINISTRY; DANN STAYS WITH MINDANAO FIELD PARTNERS

Joji shares the Word at Peace Mennonite Church during their morning worship service last Sunday, 04 March 2018. Richmond, British Columbia, Canada.

As Mennonite Church Canada Witness Workers, Joji and I are expected to do Canadian ministry every two years. We have been doing this together since 2006. Except this time. Joji has to do this Canadian ministry alone, while I need to stay in the field.

Joji has been an effective spokesperson for both PeaceBuilders Community and for Coffee For Peace. For the past few years, she has been our ministry’s ambassador to our national and international partners. In 23 October 2015, she represented us to the United Nations in New York to receive an award from the UN Development Program. In 24 August 2016, she was invited as a plenary speaker at a business conference organized by the Asian Institute of Management. In 10 September 2017, she received an award at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Business Award. Earlier this year, she flew to Pennsylvania, USA to meet with prospective partners in inclusive business initiatives. Joji is also currently serving as chair of the Peace Commission, Mennonite World Conference.

So, in coordination with Jason Martin, our new International Witness facilitator, we agreed that Joji would best represent this Mennonite Church Canada Witness’ long-term mission to the Philippines.

Here’s Joji’s Canadian speaking schedule:

MARCH

03 First United Mennonite Church, Vancouver, BC

04 Peace Mennonite Church, Richmond, BC

11 Elim Mennonite Church, Grunthal, MB

14 MCMB Staff Meeting, Winnipeg, MB

18 East Zorra Mennonite Church, Tavistock, ON

25 Toronto United Mennonite Church, Toronto, ON

APRIL

01 Leamington United Mennonite Church, Leamington, ON

08 Waterloo North Mennonite Church, Waterloo, ON

 

I need to stay with our partners in Mindanao under Martial Law. Many of our partners from among the Indigenous Peoples (IP) in the field are struggling to keep their ancestral lands from the encroachment of big, powerful corporations. The corporations are mostly supported by the government.

Our IP partners are now crying against abuses and human rights violations by both state and non-state armed groups. Our community feels we have to stand with our partners in these times of vulnerability and threat to their human rights and security.

First, we’re helping in the documentation of the alleged atrocities by both the state security sector and non-state armed groups against civilians.

A television interview making public the reported human rights violations in Davao Region

Second, we help organize a broad coalition of civil society networks working for justice, security, and human rights to uphold civil liberties.

Third, we accompany those affected by war and violence to the halls of power in Manila so that the values of justice, peace, and reconciliation would be heard in the process of legislation and policy-making.

 

In the midst of these conflicts, we continue to do the organization of peace and reconciliation communities on the ground — from Northern Luzon, to the Eastern and Western Visayas, to Southern Mindanao. Please continue to pray for the safety of our local peace and reconciliation leaders from the sufferings caused by all who use violence to advance their cause.

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2018/03/09/joji-travels-to-do-canadian-ministry-dann-stays-with-mindanao-field-partners/

Dec 18 2016

SYRIA: WHAT WESTERN MEDIA DO NOT TELL US

As early as 2014, PeaceBuilders Community have expressed our voice against the US intervention in Syria.

For my early morning prayer for Syria, I’m referring to a direct eyewitness account of Rev. Andrew Ashdown — a Minister with the Church of England — of his recent trip to Aleppo and the rest of the country.

  • The rebels, supported and armed by US and UK, are terrorizing Syrian civilians.
  • Syrian Army, Syrian Red Crescent, and Russians are providing relief and security.

We are being fed with lies by the Western media!

 

This morning we visited the main IDP Registration centre at Jibrin, for Internally displaced persons from East Aleppo. They are registered here for humanitarian reasons and access to services, before they go either to relatives in other parts of Syria if they have them (many do), or to other reception centres where they are provided with accommodation, food and other services. During the past two weeks they have registered 95,000 refugees, but estimate there may be a further 10,000 who have not registered. There were thousands of people there who have arrived within the last couple of days. Let me make clear that we visited in a taxi without Government or Army accompaniment, and without prior notice. We were not expected.

The Centre is well organised. The Syrian Red Crescent have tents available that offer information about all social welfare facilities available, and offer free medical attention. In cases of emergency, ambulances are on hand to transport patients to hospital. Free food is being distributed by the Syrian Red Crescent and the Syrian Army, and we saw a convoy of Russian lorries providing aid. There is also a Russian field hospital on site which offers immediate medical treatment.

The sense of relief amongst the thousands of refugees is palpable. All were keen to talk, and we interviewed several who had arrived only yesterday and today. They all said the same thing.

They said that they had been living in fear. They reported that the fighters have been telling everyone that the Syrian Army would kill anyone who fled to the West, but had killed many themselves who tried to leave – men, women and children. One woman broke down in tears as she told how one of her sons was killed by the rebels a few days ago, and another kidnapped. They also killed anyone who showed signs of supporting the Government. The refugees said that the ‘rebels’ told them that only those who support them are “true Muslims”, and that everyone else are ‘infidels’ and deserve to die. They told us they had been given very little food: that any aid that reached the area was mostly refused to them or sold at exorbitant prices. Likewise, most had been given no medical treatment. (A doctor who has been working with the refugees for weeks told me last night that in an area recently liberated, a warehouse filled with brand new internationally branded medicines had been discovered.) Most of the refugees said they had had members of their families killed by the rebels and consistently spoke of widespread murder, torture, rape and kidnap by the rebels. They said if anyone left their homes, their properties and belongings were confiscated and stolen. One old man in a wheelchair who was being given free treatment in the Russian Field Hospital said he had been given no treatment for three years despite asking. He said: “Thank God we are free. We now have food. We can now live our lives. God bless the Syrian Army.” They all said they were glad to be out and to be free. All the refugees without exception were visibly without exception clearly profoundly relieved and happy to be free. One woman said: “This is heaven compared to what we have been living.” We asked if the Syrian Army had ill-treated anyone. They said never. One woman said: “They helped us to escape and they provide us with food and assistance.”

I therefore have two key questions:

1. It is now only the Syrian Red Crescent, the Syrian Army, and the Russians who are providing humanitarian aid to the tens of thousands who have fled East Aleppo. Why are none of the international agencies offering to help them now?

2. Why is it, given that stories about massacres by the Syrian Army are headline news worldwide, and several international media units are in Aleppo, that there is not one international media agency actually at the Registration Centre talking to the refugees themselves? We were the only ones there. Here are people who have lived through it who are keen to talk, yet the media take at face value unverifiable claims by highly dubious sources. The collapse of any form of reliable investigative journalism in a context of global significance is utterly shocking.

Today the agreement for 4000 fighters to leave Aleppo is reported to have collapsed after the fighters had refused to fulfil the agreement. (I don’t know the details, but think about it… There is no reason on earth why the Syrian Government would want this agreement, which would involve the complete liberation of the city, to fail!) It is reported that the fighters refused to leave or let the civilians do so.

The refusal of the western media to report objectively, or to seek informed information from the thousands of civilians from East Aleppo who are keen to share their stories, whilst granting full credibility to terrorists without any on the ground verifiable information on their claims, is nothing short of obscene.

Everything that I have seen and heard in Aleppo; from civilians in East and West from all communities, and from talking with doctors, faith communities and with Army people as well, and witnessing and risking bombardments on both sides, convinces me that the reports in the western media are twisted fabrications of the horrors that are happening in ‘rebel’ controlled areas. And still, the media refuses listen to the witness of the people themselves.

~ Andrew Ashdown

 

We need sharp discernment to tell truth from lies. The global oligarchs who control the mainstream media are also the ones making billions of dollars from wars, controlling mega-aid agencies, and making money out of pseudo-peacekeeping efforts at the expense of local civilians. These dark forces are trying to spread hate, moral paralysis, and confusion so they can perpetuate this ‘dark status quo’ of greed and power.

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2016/12/18/syria-what-western-media-do-not-tell-us/

Dec 06 2016

PBCI IS NOW ACCEPTING INTERNSHIP APPLICANTS FOR FALL 2017

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Nine graduate students from the University of British Columbia – School of Community and Regional Planning (UBC-SCARP), led by their professor, Dr. Leonora Angeles, did their field research among Coffee For Peace (CFP) and PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI) partner communities in Kalinga. Camp Balweg, Tabuk, Kalinga Province. August 2016.

We are now accepting applications for the 2017 Internship Program at PeaceBuilders Community!

Becoming a PBCI intern means you’re joining as a volunteer. As one of our volunteers, we assume that you have a sense of mission to advance justice and peace within you and around you.

PBCI is a community of missionaries. We are people who are experiencing this sense of calling to help build holistic peace in our own specific ways and means. We live out this calling in our own respective contexts. In this perspective, PBCI members and volunteers are peacebuilding missionaries.


WE HAVE VARIOUS LEVELS OF MISSION OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOU

Support Operations

  • Information and Communication Technicians – website designers, writers, graphic artists, photographers, computer programmers, videographers, video editors, social networking specialists, script writers
  • Business & Financial Services – accountants, bookkeepers, marketing specialists
  • Research and Development Technicians – research writers, research assistants, data analysts, data entry technicians, data gathering assistants

Field Operations

  • Inclusive Growth Consultants – social entrepreneurs, small-and-medium business practitioners, agri-business specialists, agro-forestry experts
  • Community Development Technicians – public relations specialists, community organizers, disaster preparation training facilitators, relief operation assistants, rehabilitation assistants
  • Conflict Transformation Specialists – negotiators, facilitators, mediators, ceasefire monitors, peace negotiation monitors, peace agreement monitors


WHAT WE EXPECT FROM  THE MEMBERS OF OUR MISSIONARY COMMUNITY

Full-time Interns

  • Pass through the PBCI membership process — a senior staff will be assigned to facilitate this process upon receiving your application
  • Make arrangement with a sending organization who are willing to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with PBCI
  • Raise your own missionary support — food, housing, transportation, personal needs, medical expenses, ministry expenses, administrative fee, etc.
  • Commit to at least six months of full time service in our Davao office or in one of our PAR Fields; and,
  • Bring your own equipment — computers, cameras, etc. — needed for your internship assignment at PBCI

Part-time Support Operation Volunteers

  • Pass through the PBCI membership process — a senior staff will be assigned to facilitate this process upon receiving your application
  • Sign a Memorandum of Short-Term Service with PBCI
  • Commit to at least 5 hours of weekly service in our Davao office
  • Bring your own equipment — computers, cameras, etc. — needed for your internship assignment at PBCI

Part-time Field Operation Volunteers

  • Pass through the PBCI membership process — a senior staff will be assigned to facilitate this process upon receiving your application
  • Sign a Memorandum of Short-Term Service with PBCI
  • Commit to be on call  when PBCI declares Code Red and field volunteers like you are needed to serve in one of our PAR Fields
  • Bring your own equipment — computers, cameras, etc. — needed for your internship assignment at PBCI

 

WHAT PBCI OFFERS

Spiritual Formation and Discipline

Psycho-Social Skills

Socio-Political Analytical Skills

Economic-Ecological Transformation Skills

 

 

HOW TO BECOME A MEMBER OF THIS COMMUNITY OF PEACEBUILDERS

As soon as we have received your filled out application form, the candidacy process will proceed as follows:

Phase One: Initial interview by a senior staff assigned to you

  1. A personal or online introduction to the DreamsValues, and up-to-date work of PBCI through interactive presentations
  2. Self-assessment interactions, personal or online, in order for candidates to self-evaluate their suitability in progressing to the next step of the membership process

Phase Two: Reflection and Decision-Making

  1. The candidate will go through psycho-spiritual guidance within her/his spiritual community about the sense of calling in the advocacy of peacebuilding
  2. The candidates’ decision-making processes must include consultation with family and community, seeking their blessings
  3. The candidate must go through personal needs assessment and personal financial planning with a qualified financial counsellor to deal with stewardship matters
  4. The full-time intern candidate will finish the required readings:
    :: Lederach, John Paul 2004. Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies. Washington, DC: USIP Press.
    :: Stassen, Glen H. 1992. Just Peacemaking: Transforming Initiatives for Justice and Peace. Kentucky: John Knox Press.
    :: Swartley, Willard M. 1992. The Love of Enemy and Nonretaliation in the New Testament. Kentucky: John Knox Press.
  5. The candidate is formally issued a Letter of Acceptance and may travel to PBCI Centre in Davao City for orientation

Phase Three: Orientation and Training

1. The new member must go through the Basic PAR Seminar

2. The new member must pass the Armed-Conflict Area Survival Training (ACAST)

3. The new member will go through a Peace Learning Tour (PLT) in a specified PAR Zone

 

HOW TO APPLY

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2016/12/06/pbci-is-now-accepting-internship-applicants-for-2017/

Aug 24 2016

JOJI REPRESENTS CFP IN A NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON ‘SHARED PROSPERITY’

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Joji does her presentation before business and government policy makers

The Duterte Administration is being handed a very strong Philippine economy.  “It accelerated 6.9 percent in the first quarter of the year, the fastest among 11 selected economies in Asia,” according to the latest report of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries. “It outpaced expansions in China (6.7 percent), Vietnam (5.5 percent), Indonesia (4.9), and Malaysia 4.2 percent).”

But this economic growth is not being felt by at least 80% of the Filipino people. According to a presentation of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), only 3.9% are fully enjoying the benefits of this economic growth. The middle class, 16.9% of the population, are barely experiencing it. The masses, 79.2% of the population, are not experiencing this growth at all.

Because of this, the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) organized a conference — “Towards A Shared Prosperity: Building Synergies in Competitiveness and Development,” which was held at Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City last 24 August 2016. They have realized that —

Much has to be done to reach under-served markets and align incentives with growth. The confluence of government, business, civil society, and academic efforts can help create the structural change that is needed to build capacities, create more and better jobs, expand real income, and alleviate poverty in the long-term.

Joji was invited to be one of the plenary speakers on the topic, “The Contribution of Enterprise to the Growing Inclusive Market Initiatives.” She started by telling them the story of Coffee For Peace:

Coffee for Peace, Inc. (CFP) was established on April 15, 2008 in Davao City. It began when the founders facilitated an informal conflict mediation in the field between a Migrant farmer and a Bangsamoro neighbor. The two were trying to kill each other for the ownership of the rice field ready for harvest, regardless of who planted the rice or who owned the land.  Instead of shooting each other, the two were invited for a dialogue over coffee.  Since then, the two avoided killing each other. They started inviting other members of the community to have coffee together — for peace.

CFP started as an Income Generating Program (IGP) of the PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI)—a Mennonite peacebuilding movement in the Philippines that exists (a) to train and multiply effective Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Team Leaders; (b) to support the leaders in organizing and nurturing their respective PAR Teams; (c) to establish contextually-relevant PAR Communities; and, (d) to develop aNetwork of PAR Communities.

To enable PBCI to become self-sustainable, an IGP was created to support its mission.

However, due to the organic social involvement of CFP, it became a separate business entity with the following mission:

:: To protect and enhance the environment

:: To walk with the farmers as they strive to improve their lives

:: To support the peacebuilders on the field.

Coffee for Peace has been training farmers on Arabica production, the principles of fair trade, trading policies and pricing, for the past 8 years. Aside from working in Mindanao, CFP has also trained coffee farmers in the Cordillera Region and is looking forward to train more in the different provinces of northern Philippines.

  • We share with them the Coffee for Peace Value Chain — “from crop to cup”
  • We inspire them to dream for their people and their community
  • We teach them the value of quality
  • We market their coffee.
  • We provide access to market.
  • We link them to other trade and industry players.

As Chairman of the Board of Coffee For Peace, I’m so confident to tell the members of our board, our investors, partners, and clients that this social enterprise is being managed intelligently and passionately by its CEO, and the business world is listening.

Joji happens to be my wife.

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A segment of the participants having coffee break

What is needed now is to consolidate the reforms made, embark on the next set of reforms and move ahead at full speed. In the short-term, deepening reforms in budget execution will allow the country to use its growing fiscal space to increase investments in both human and physical capital, with positive contributions to near-term growth and quality of jobs. Over the medium-term, accelerated structural reforms are needed to enhance competition in sectors with high impact on jobs (such as rice, shipping, and telecoms), securing property rights through more systematic and administrative adjudication of land rights, and simplifying business regulations to encourage the growth of firms of all sizes, while increasing tax effort and reforming the budget execution system in order to sustainably ramp up public investments in infrastructure and social services. In all these, priority is needed in Mindanao, where decades of conflict and weak, Manila-centric policies have kept it from reaching its potential. To accelerate reforms in the future, the government, business, labor, and civil society need to work more closely together to support a package of reforms that will help the country move full speed ahead to create more and better jobs.

(World Bank, Philippine Economic Update – April 2016)

 

 

 

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2016/08/24/joji-represents-cfp-in-a-national-conference-on-shared-prosperity/

Jul 22 2016

PAQUIBATO FARMERS LEARN COFFEE PRODUCTION AT CFP-PBCI CENTER

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Your hands’ work feed us,
Tiller of the sacred land.
May we serve with you?

(Lakan Sumulong)

 

20-22 July 2016.  It’s always a privilege to be visited by our farming partners. To pray together. To eat together. To learn together. To share our struggles for justice and peace. To share our lives with each other. To share resources. To listen to each other.

We conducted a 2-day training program called “From Crop to Cup” which is framed in Peace and Reconciliation principles and practices. The training team consists of Fred Abelitado, Byron Bee Pantoja, Joji Felicitas Bautista Pantoja, and Jobee Palo Basas.

These particular group of trainees were from the Paquibato District, Davao City, one of the most critical areas affected by the armed conflicts between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the New People’s Army — the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Great thanks to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the City Government of Davao for their partnership.

Kudo’s to the PBCI-CFP support team — Edna Pantoja, Nite Alparas, Catua Frani, Crezy Morgado Eclevia, and Jose B. Calaba.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2016/07/22/paquibato-farmers-learn-coffee-production-at-cfp-pbci-center/

Jun 11 2016

I’M AN ANABAPTIST. I MUST NOT BE MILITANT AGAINST MILITANT PEOPLE

Militant. Combative. Aggressive. Violent. Confrontational. Usually for the purpose of advancing a worldview, a value system, a set of behaviors. Mostly visible in religious, social, or political advocacies or programs.

We live in a militant 21st century reality. Those who want to make good business in a world at war would like us all to be militant against the outsider-other as much as they like the outsider-other to be militant against us.

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This was the first photo that was circulated throughout the Menno cosmos when Joji and I first landed in Mindanao in 2006 as peacebuilding workers sent by Peace Mennonite Church, with the Mennonite Church Canada Witness as the supervising agency.

We had to answer lots of questions because of this picture. One of my favorite questions was from a beloved brother from Winnipeg: “What were you doing hanging out with those armed men? You’re supposed to be a peacebuilding missionary?”

“Umm… peacebuilding?” I answered, hesitantly.

What’s interesting was that, when I told him that those heavily armed guys were the government soldiers trying to protect me and my white Mennonite colleagues from kidnap-for-ransom groups, he immediately changed his facial expression, from frown to smile, and said: “Oh, I see. Those were the good guys!”

But I also hang out with the enemies of these good guys – the New People’s Army and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

 

We hang out with the New People’s Army or the NPA.

Yup. NPAs are the commies.

Our colonizing masters from this great continent made sure that most of us, good Christian Filipinos, hate the commies.

But I embrace these so-called communist enemies.

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Because I believe that’s what Jesus expects of me. And the Mennonites sent me to them to represent Jesus as the Mennonites understand Him, right? Prince of Peace.

They allowed us to enter their territory because they heard about CoffeeForPeace.Com. Coffee For Peace is not just another coffee. Coffee For Peace is JUST coffee.

Joji and I approach these people with Jesus’ listening heart. When they tell their story, we drop all our preconceived ideas about them. All of them. Including all the concepts taught by our beloved Cultural Anthropology professor. Then they speak: “We are Matigsalog people. We have been fighting to protect our land for decades. Our ancestors were created in this land by our Creator. This land own us. We have been struggling for many, many years to defend our own way of living from people with pieces of papers that say this land belong to them. No. This land owns us. We belong to this land. Because we defend our people and land, they kill us. Their soldiers kill us, Lumads (Indigenous People).”

And so I’m bringing their voice before this gathering. #StopKillingLumads.

After listening to them. They remembered why I came to their Ancestral Land in the first place. “You’re here to buy coffee, right?” one of the elders asked.

I simply nodded.

“Just price?” another elder inquired.

I nodded again while raising my eyebrows twice, smiling. It means ‘Yes’. A sincere ‘Yes’.

Then all of them said, “Welcome.” And they all embraced Joji and me.

 

We also hangout with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

As a nation of 13 ethnolinguistic groups, they are referred to as Moro. They are officially known as the Bangsamoro (Nation of Moors). Most of the Moros are Muslim by religion.

It was in 2004 when I started knocking at the hearts of their community’s traditional gatekeepers. After six months living with them, the elders embraced me and treated me like a son. The young people treated me like a brother. The young men, after years of deep brotherly relationship, became my brothers.

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The Moros have resisted both the Spanish and American colonialization of their homeland called Mindanao. Their struggle for their right to self-determination continues until now with the leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The Mindanao conflict is really a story about historical injustice.

When Joji and I came as peacebuilding missionaries in 2006, we were saddened by what we have learned. First, the majority Christian population of the Philippines has a strong anti-Muslim bias. The 2005 Philippine Human Development Report says that in Metro Manila, 57% of residents will opt for residency in a place with higher rent so long as it is far from a Muslim community. Second, the minoritization of the Moros came as a result of the failure of the government to protect the Moro ancestral lands. Once the majority in Mindanao, the Moros now comprise only 22% of the population. And third, the government failed to deliver basic services and the needed development to Moro communities. The 2005 Human Development Report shows that Muslim areas like Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan continue to suffer the highest poverty incidence.

One of the ways our small organization, PeaceBuildersCommunity, Inc. (PBCI), contribute towards peace and reconciliation is by bringing together Muslims and Evangelical Christians to foster better understanding of each other through dialogue, and by conducting ‘Peace and Reconciliation Seminars’ and ‘Inclusive Development Initiatives’. It is as a follower of Jesus that we engage these militant Muslims, with the hope of spreading to them the love that Jesus has showed, and continually shows, toward us.

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Last 02 April 2016, the bishops and national leaders of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), headed by Bishop Noel Pantoja, PCEC National Director, visited the Central Committee of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) headed by Chair Al Hajj Murad Ebrahim. After this historic meeting, the PCEC published a statement that was covered by the national media. Part of the statement says:

“In loving reverence and obedience to God, we shall appropriate the message of the Scripture by cultivating unity with Muslims and building peace in Mindanao as expressed in the following ways:

  • We call on the Government of the Philippines to persist in moving the peace talks with the MILF forward, and to explore new avenues in bringing about peace for the Bangsamoro and other people groups in Mindanao.
  • We call on all Christians to help diminish and bring down the walls of prejudice toward Muslims, and vice-versa, by being good neighbors to our Bangsamoro brothers and sisters, as exemplified by the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37.
  • We shall conduct dialogues with other Muslim and non-Muslim stakeholders in the peace process in order to help in forging a truly inclusive peace agreement.
  • We shall form partnerships with the MILF and other Muslim and indigenous people groups for the purpose of providing necessary services such as disaster management training, psychosocial training and trauma healing that will benefit people on the ground especially those affected by the conflict in Mindanao.

In those aforementioned ways, we hope to demonstrate our solidarity with the just aspirations of the Bangsamoro people. In those aforementioned ways, we hope to faithfully follow God’s mandate to live in peace with everyone (Romans 12:18), and as Scripture attests, “the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Cor. 13:11).”

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There’s something in our theology that builds capacity to do crazy things like embracing the militant outsider-other. It’s our view of Jesus. It’s our view of the Gospel. It’s our view of Justice. It’s our view of Peace.

I don’t have time to enumerate the contents of our rich theology. We can wrap it in one word. Anabaptist.

We’re Anabaptists. We must not be militants against militant people.

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2016/06/11/im-an-anabaptist-i-must-not-be-militant-against-militant-people/

May 09 2016

MENTORSHIP IS A HIGH-VALUE ACTIVITY AT COFFEE FOR PEACE

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Fred Abelitado is our coffee roasting guru.

Now happening at the backyard of the office of CoffeeForPeace.Com:

  • Our farming partners from Mount Apo, the Ancestral Domain of the Bagobo Tribe, deliver their Arabica coffee cherries;
  • Nowie Blag and Jose Calaba, PAR (Peace and Reconciliation) Monitors from the Dulangan Manobo Tribe, who also have planted 10,000 Arabica coffee trees in their Ancestral Domain, are being trained by Fred Abelitado, our in-house coffee processing guru;
  • Jude, a son of PAR Leaders in Eastern Mindanao, Clay & June Rojo, is also being trained in post-harvest coffee processing, basic barista skills, and basic food service administration.

Here’s a video of this particular event.

Yes, we’re in the coffee business. But beyond that, we’re in the business of multiplying inclusive development leaders through hands-on mentorship.

I’m so grateful for the in-house mentors, the CFP Management Team.

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2016/05/09/mentorship-is-a-high-value-activity-at-coffee-for-peace/

Apr 20 2016

TO BE AN EFFECTIVE INCLUSIVE DEVELOPMENT FIELD WORKER

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While hiking the mountains of Upper Kalinga, my heart and mind brought my consciousness on how to be an effective Inclusive Development field worker:

  • My main task is primarily to listen to the peoples’ imagination of their realities. In their various languages and expressions, they articulate their present realities (what is) and their future aspirations (what ought to).
  • My secondary task is to commit myself to walk with them in-between the present and the future, not a 100-meter dash sprint, but a life-long-journey.
  • My third task is to keep listening as I walk with them until they have affirmed that I actually get what they are saying so I can resonate their wisdom, concerns, and aspirations to those outside their respective communities.

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2016/04/20/to-be-an-effective-inclusive-development-field-worker/

Apr 03 2016

WE HELPED BRIDGE TOP PCEC AND MILF LEADERS

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02 April 2016. Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao — The PeaceBuilders Community initiated the top leaders’ meeting between the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), led by Bishop Noel Alba Pantoja, and the Central Committee Office of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), led by Chairman Murad Ebrahim.

The two bodies discussed how leaders of Evangelical Christian and Muslim religious groups can work together for a justice-based peace and reconciliation initiatives in Mindanao and in the whole Philippines. Among those who were with Bishop Noel Pantoja were Dr. Aldrin Penamora, Bishop Gene Udang, Pastor Nemuel Castrodes, Prof. Annabel Manzanilla Manalo, Ms. Jay Atiolla, Rev. Alborne Llera, Ms. Beng Bicaldo, and Bishop Tomas Duan Mascariñas.

This was an initiative of the PCEC Peace and Reconciliation Commission.

For Joji and I, this is like a culmination of 10 years of relationship-building on the ground. For this, we express our deep gratitude to Peace Mennonite Church, our sending congregation, the Mennonite Church Canada for being our administrative support as we focus on field tasks, and to all our congregational partners who have walked with us in prayers, in financial support, and pastoral guidance.

Most of all, we give all the glory to God for allowing us to serve in this way.

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PCEC Statement on the PCEC-MILF Leaders Dialogue
April 2, 2016, Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat

We, the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC) is very much appreciative of the leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) headed by Chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim and Peace Panel Chairman Mohagher Iqbal for the warm reception they accorded to our delegation during the entire duration of the PCEC-MILF leaders meeting held on April 2, 2016 at Camp Darapanan. We are thankful to God for this Christian-Muslim gathering that has led to a deeper understanding not only of each other’s positions on the Mindanao situation, but also as to what Scripture means that every person is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).

In conformity with PCEC’s previous statements that proclaim our biblically based endorsement of the peace process between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF, we reiterate our unwavering support toward the attainment of genuine peace that is founded on justice for the Bangsamoro people. In this regard, PCEC highly commends the MILF for its continuous dedication to realize through peaceful negotiations the Bangsamoro’s aspiration of self-determination, especially in view of the non-passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) within the term of President Benigno S. Aquino III.

The meeting between PCEC and MILF leaders had shown the importance of sincerity in dialogue. When participants are sincere and open minded, dialogue can lead to a deeper understanding and unity among Christians and the Bangsamoro people. Indeed, without unity it would be impossible to forge a lasting peace in Mindanao. The importance of unity is reflected in the biblical passage that says, “Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Cor.13:11). In loving reverence and obedience to God, we shall appropriate the message of the Scripture by cultivating unity with Muslims and building peace in Mindanao as expressed in the following ways:

  • We call on the Government of the Philippines to persist in moving the peace talks with the MILF forward, and to explore new avenues in bringing about peace for the Bangsamoro and other people groups in Mindanao.
  • We call on all Christians to help diminish and bring down the walls of prejudice toward Muslims, and vice-versa, by being good neighbors to our Bangsamoro brothers and sisters, as exemplified by the “Good Samaritan” in Luke 10:25-37.
  • We shall conduct dialogues with other Muslim and non-Muslim stakeholders in the peace process in order to help in forging a truly inclusive peace agreement.
  • We shall form partnerships with the MILF and other Muslim and indigenous people groups for the purpose of providing necessary services such as disaster management training, psychosocial training and trauma healing that will benefit people on the ground especially those affected by the conflict in Mindanao.

In those aforementioned ways, we hope to demonstrate our solidarity with the just aspirations of the Bangsamoro people. In those aforementioned ways, we hope to faithfully follow God’s mandate to live in peace with everyone (Romans 12:18), and as Scripture attests, “the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Cor. 13:11).

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Cor. 13:14).

 

Bishop Noel A. Pantoja
National Director
Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC)
Philippine Relief and Development Services (PHILRADS)

 

Photos by Lakan Sumulong

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2016/04/03/we-helped-bridge-top-pcec-and-milf-leaders/