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.”
May 25 2017
Last 23 May 2017 at at around 2320H PHT, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte declared Martial Law over all Mindanao. Within minutes, the declaration ignited a debate among netizens. Some favored Martial Law. Some were against it. PeaceBuilders Community soon wrote our perspective on this issue, and resonating with Mindanao PeaceWeavers — the larger network of peace-advocating civil society organizations in this southern island of the Philippines — we voluntarily joined as one of the many signatories of a statement on the Marawi Crisis, the Mindanao Martial Law, and the Peace Process.
Those who felt protected by the security sector celebrated the declaration of Martial Law. For them, the uniformed presence of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), along with their guns, tanks, and other enforcement materiel, symbolizes stability, safety, peace, and order.
There are those who felt threatened by the presence of AFP and the PNP. Most of them were from areas where big international mining companies are operating. Many of those mining operations were protected by the AFP and the PNP against local and indigenous folks who are defending their ancestral domains against the exploitative and destructive operations of the mining corporations.
And then there are those who have vivid memories of the dark days of Martial Law under the oppressive dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. I’m one of those who have been traumatized in those two decades of military atrocities. Like many survivors of Martial Law in the 70s and 80s, I shouted “Never Again!” to Martial Law. Not even by the President whom I supported during the May 2016 general election.
STATEMENT OF MINDANAO PEACEWEAVERS
31 May 2017
Stand with Marawi. Save the Peace Process. Defend our Rights.
Marawi, the “Philippine’s premiere Islamic City” is battered but stands strong.
True to the origins of the name Marawi, it is indeed a “destination point” or “rendezvous”, for much of Mindanao’s Islamic south. The name has also meant “arrival” or “coming” – but these last few days, Marawi’s monicker has had a devastating connotation. The city that has served as a melting pot of peoples from different cultures and histories is now getting razed by bombs and fire into a virtual “ghost town.” The city is occupied by Maute extremist militants on a rampage, sowing terror in different parts of the city – threatening, hurting and even killing innocent civilians, burning buildings and properties, hostaging helpless people and turning them into “human shields” as their forces scamper through the city’s interiors. The armed hostilities prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law in the whole of Mindanao to address the crisis situation and specifically wipe out the Aby Sayaf leader Isnilon Hapilon and the remaining Maute militants involved.
We, the convening networks and allied peace partners of the Mindanao PeaceWeavers (MPW), condemn in the strongest terms the terror that is besieging Marawi City. We are deeply saddened that this tragedy occurred during the Holy Month of Ramadhan, a period of spiritual reflection for Muslims. But for the people of Marawi, it is currently a disquieting time when danger, violence, and death are at their doorsteps.
We appeal to the heart and conscience of President Duterte to see the face of humanitarian crisis.
Aside from ensuring the safety and security of civilians in the conduct of clearing operations by the government forces, we invoke the state’s responsibility to protect and fulfill the rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs) during evacua-tion until their safe and dignified return to Marawi City. In hindsight, we believe that a combination of keen foresight and leadership coupled with political will and military intelligence, the government can address the crisis situation in Marawi without resorting to a declaration of Martial Law.
The prolonged armed engagement between the government security forces and the Maute militants have led to the excessive use of artillery and aerial bombardment, endangering the lives of trapped civilians and violating the rules of engagement in situations of war and armed conflict. Worse, the botched AFP-PNP operation to arrest the ASG leader failed to assess the risks and options impacting on non-combatants; public safety has now been jeopardized when the scenario of pre-emptive and forced evacuation was not prioritized by the government troops just before the conflict flared-up.
We are disheartened with the extent of civilian casualties – most of whom are women and children – caught in the crossfire while fleeing to safer grounds. The government says that as of today, a total of 92 casualties have been recorded – 16 civilians, 15 government forces, and 61 Maute militants. According to a report, only 5% of the total city population of 200,000, remain trapped inside the city.
The Marawi crisis is considered the tipping point of the Martial Law declaration. But we pray that martial rule won’t be the last straw before we lose the gains in the peace processes through the years. Despite the safeguards that are already embodied in the 1987 Constitution, we still dread the thought of Martial Law turning draconian in the days and weeks to come. Because, as a country, we committed to listen to the wisdom of history – “Never Again” – was our collective mantra in the aftermath of the Marcos dictatorship. Yet now in a seeming instance, Martial Law is upon us again.
We are seriously alarmed with the declaration of the 60-day Martial Law in the whole of Mindanao. Appalled by the sudden turn of events, we, as advocates of civil liberties remain wary of the factual basis and intention of this proclamation. President Duterte’s brinkmanship in the standoff with Maute militants launched a full-scale combat operation at the heart of a bustling civilian community. A military solution will not address the key drivers of armed conflict, radicalization and violent extremism in the country. Developing sustainable solutions towards durable peace can be derived from the heart of an inclusive political settlement, good governance and multiculturalism. That is why as civil society, we continue to feed the civilian policy lens on matters of peace and security. To sustain this impetus under these trying circumstances, we are respectfully submitting the following recommendations for consideration and immediate action.
OUR URGENT APPEALS:
For President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr, DND Sec Delfin Lorenzana, AFP Chief Gen. Eduardo Ano, ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman, Western Mindanao Command Chief MGen Carlito Galvez Jr, DSWD Sec Judy Taguiwalo, Peace Negotiators in the Bangsamoro peace process and the GRP-NDFP peace process, BTC Chair Ghadzali Jaafar, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel, Jr, Speaker of the House Pantaleon Alvarez, Peace and Order Councils of ARMM, Lanao del Sur and Norte, Reg 10, 11 and Reg 12, and humanitarian groups :
- Support the appeal towards a “humanitarian passage”– a half-day “cease and desist from all forms of armed action” and invoke universally-accepted protocols on displacement and civilian protection accorded to IDPs and at the same time with deference to the observance of the Holy Month of Ramadhan.
- Provision of humanitarian corridor/s within Marawi City or adjacent towns where IDPs have sought/can seek refuge, to ensure their safe passage, safety, security and unhampered access to humanitarian aid in these buffer zones.
- For the security actors, in concert with the Marawi city government and trusted local mediators to address the hostage situation and secure the safety of Fr Teresito Suganob, his staff, parishioners and any other residents who are still being held captive by the Maute militants.
- Mobilize broad support for prompt and adequate humanitarian assistance in coordination with the ARMM-HEART and the local multi-stakeholder convergence on emergency support and crisis response in the cities of Marawi, Iligan and Cagayan de Oro.
- Immediately stop the airstrikes, indiscriminate firing and artillery shelling directed at civilian dwellings and public structures wherein trapped IDPs are seeking sanctuary. Forcing them out with the razing of these structures effectively puts them further at risk and in harm’s way.
- We appeal to President Duterte to continue upholding the primacy of the peace process. Corollary to this, we are respectfully requesting that the declaration of Martial Law be rescinded. While the military action in Marawi and adjacent towns continues, we hope this will not affect the momentum and continuance of both the Bangsamoro and the GRP-NDFP peace tables and the unimpeded implementation of all signed interim and final peace agreements;
- We urge both the government forces and the New Peoples Army (NPA) to withdraw/reposition their troops and discontinue any armed offensives especially in remote villages and ancestral domains of IPs. Sporadic attacks, harassments and militarization further contribute to an explosive situation in the midst of a Martial Law imposition;
- Lastly, we call on all citizens to remain vigilant, defend your rights, organize and engage our communities to actively monitor the situation on the ground, and help contribute in conflict mitigation and de-escalation.
Finally, as the President himself recognized and admitted in the past, no military solution can ever resolve the deep socio-economic and political problems that have blighted our land and bred terror and extremism that we are confronting today. What is needed is recognition of the legitimate grievances, historical injustices and ongoing justice issues perpetrated on our peoples and addressing the root causes of armed conflict through structural change.
Stand our ground in engaging the peace process!
Resolutely defend our fundamental rights and freedoms!
Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2017/05/25/mindanao-martial-law-i-resonate-with-the-voice-of-my-fellow-just-peace-advocates-in-mindanao/
May 03 2017
The impact of the Al-Azhar International Peace Conference in Cairo, Egypt last 27-28 April 2017, on me, was life-changing. It was an opportunity to practice the Great Commandment moment-by-moment and with a deeper understanding. I was given a global context to love Jesus more and to be more faithful to Jesus by embracing and affirming the Other. It was a series of events when I enjoyed the absolute now — a glimpse and a taste of being intimate with the One whose self-reference is The Great I Am.
The conference was used by God to open my heart to love and embrace all parts of the Body of Christ, all segments of the People of God, and all the respectable representatives of God’s humanity. As one coming from an evangelical anabaptist background, my sense of connection with all human beings from all faiths and worldviews became wider and deeper. Love, Joy, and Peace were incarnated in this two-day event.
Speakers on the first day called on followers of different faiths and worldviews to work together to denounce extremism, terrorism, and promote peace and co-existence framed in God’s love, justice, and peace.
Please allow me to share some of my personal reflections and learnings, almost a week after this event:
:: It was an opportunity to practice the Great Commandment moment-by-moment and with a deeper understanding. There were around 400 of us — religious leaders, scholars, political figures, and ground workers from around the world. I was one of the ground-workers who was given the chance to experience this historic event. Throughout the conference, the Spirit of God made me so aware of my neighbors in this globalized city or village. I sat with them. I ate with them. I listened with, and to, them. They listened to me. I was with my neighbors from all over the world.
I was wondering how I would I interact with them? There were people who came from very rich countries who looked and behaved differently and I felt so poor and tempted to become insecure around them. There were people coming from poorer countries who looked and behaved differently, and I was tempted to be arrogant around them.
The voice of the Spirit was clear. Love God. Love your neighbor as yourself. I had to read and reflect on Matthew 22:36-40 again. Jesus was asked about his view of a God-worshiper’s highest priority: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” His reply was straightforward: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
The Great Commandment is the very foundation of the justice and peace that humanity has been seeking.
The work of peace is possible because of love. Pope Francis alluded to this in his speech during the closing session of the conference. He said, “God, the lover of life, never ceases to love people, and so he exhorts us to reject the way of violence as the necessary condition for every earthly covenant…” He also emphasized that, “it is essential that we reject any absolutizing that would justify violence. For violence,” he continues, “is the negation of every authentic religious expression.”
Pope Francis also shared his basis of confidence in Christian peacemaking. “God,” according to him, “assures all those who trust in his love.” Global understanding between differing religions and cultures is possible because “the way of love lies open to human beings and that the effort to establish universal brotherhood is not vain.”
The more we love God, the more we can love the other. Loving the other implies a radical call of action. Pope Francis called for “an end to the proliferation of arms.” He warned that “if they are produced and sold, sooner or later they will be used.” He further said: “Only by bringing into the light of day the murky maneuverings that feed the cancer of war can its real causes be prevented.” He obliged the national leaders, institutions and the media “to undertake this urgent and grave task… to initiate processes of peace, seeking to lay a solid basis for agreements between peoples and states.”
Through this fresh reflection on the meaning of the Great Commandment and its implications to local, national, and international peacemaking, I began to quietly pray: “By your grace and mercy, please make me a funnel of your love, moment-by-moment.”
:: I was given a global context to love Jesus more and to be more faithful to Jesus by embracing and affirming the Other. Christian faith, by definition, centers on the person of Jesus Christ. Emil Brunner once said that, “the center and foundation of the whole Christian faith is Christology, that is faith in Jesus Christ” (The Mediator, p. 232). For most Christians like me, christology is the central doctrine.
A Christian’s christological view necessarily affects her or his relationship with the religious Other. In an exclusivistic christology, the Other is treated as one who is to be converted, or as an enemy. In an inclusivistic christology, the Other is treated as an anonymous Christian, or as one who may have wisdom but still incomplete without the full knowledge of Christ.
Can I continue to love and claim Jesus Christ as the Incarnate and Risen One without “exclusively” or “inclusively” alienating the religious Other?
Based on David Jensen’s Dialogical Christology (In the Company of Others: A Dialogical Christianity), it is possible to both affirm the Christian claim that Jesus Christ is the Incarnate and the Risen One, and at the same time, be dialogically open to, and genuinely embracing of, the Other in the context of religious pluralism in a global era. The Kenotic Christ — that means, Self-Emptying Christ — is the Incarnate and Risen One who relinquished his own self-privileges to identify, as closely as possible, with the radically different, or rejected, or oppressed Other. But the relinquishment of his self-privileges does not necessarily mean self-abnegation. The Incarnate One and Risen One is present in his absence. The challenge of Jensen’s dialogical christology is that, the Kenotic Christ calls us to an active experience of self-emptying discipleship in a face-to-face encounter with the Other.
In this inter-faith peace conference, I was brought into an existential opportunity to demonstrate that a kenotic or self-emptying christology can be applied in an experiential dialogue with a specific religious Other—Muslims, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Taoists, Hindus, Jews, and various Indigenous Spiritualities. There are doctrines that cannot be resolved between us as propositional statements of particular truth-claims. But a kenotic view of truth can open doors for a more embracing relationship with the religious Other while affirming valued Christian claims such as Christ as the Incarnate and Risen One on my side, and various worldviews, faith statements, and belief systems on the side — that of my new friends and colleagues in peacebuilding
This kenotic christology also has significant implications toward my understanding of ethics and ministry in a pluralistic world; it demands a careful, self-emptying, self-examination of one’s ethical motive for mission and global ministry in the context of a face-to-face encounter with the religious Other.
:: It was a series of events when I enjoyed the absolute now — a glimpse and a taste of being intimate with the One whose self-reference is The Great I Am. I came to this conference unprepared. The Rev. Dr. Efraim Tendero, general secretary of the World Evangelical Alliance, sent me to this event on his behalf due to another commitment. I had no money for this. I had a very important commitment to be with a political front as they negotiate with the government and I had to ask their permission and blessing to exonerate me from our scheduled peace talks. The organizers of the Al-Azhar International Peace Conference paid for my air travel and hotel accommodation to be in this conference. The visa arrangement took a day to be released.
In each step of the way, I had to submit to the Spirit’s leading while doing my best and had to tell myself, “Believe! At this very moment, the Spirit is working beyond your capacity.” That moment-by-moment submission liberated me from stress. I just enjoyed the The Power of the Now.
After the conference, I decided to stay in my hotel room and just planned to wait for my Cairo-Doha-Manila flight the next day. I had no extra money for any tourist activity. One of my new friends called me and invited me to join him to see the Great Pyramid of Giza. He already rented a van and all I had to do was to voluntarily contribute with what I can, pay for my own entrance fee, and enjoy the tour. While preparing for the Giza trip, a friend of my children from Canada, who is now living in Cairo, invited me to see the Old City and to have a dinner with her family. After our trip to the pyramids, Shannon Aziz and her family picked me up from where I was and gave me a treat to experience their everyday Cairo life as a family.
Trusting the Spirit of God moment-by-moment is a spiritual discipline that I’m beginning to enjoy now that I’m 60 years old. It’s actually a glimpse and a taste of being intimate with the One whose self-reference is The Great I Am — The Eternal Now.
Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2017/05/03/lessons-i-learned-from-an-international-peace-conference-in-egypt/
Apr 15 2017
Life, not death.
No to kill-culture!
Yes to the culture of life.
Embrace all who live!
Hope, not despair.
The present is Hope.
The already; the not-yet –
Light, not darkness.
Darkness a cocoon,
The tomb was really a womb –
New Life emerging!
Courage, not fear.
Greedy world powers –
They build terror-structures;
Soon will be transformed.
Truth, not lies.
All shall come to light!
Lies, made-up realities,
Joy, not sorrow.
Pain will be no more,
Tears of joy, not of sorrow;
Here is tomorrow!
Justice, not oppression.
Law of equity –
Rule of injustice destroyed.
The Kingdom has come!
Peace, not violence.
You destroyed the Beast,
Govern us and wars will cease.
Come, oh Prince of Peace!
Love, not hatred.
Despite hate and rage,
Great Commandment does ascend.
God’s love transcends all!
Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2017/04/15/jesus-resurrection-reveals-final-reality/
Apr 05 2017
05 April 2017. Today, I gave a lecture on A Christian Theology of Peace and It’s Application in the Peace Processes in the Philippines as the final activity of a 10-day inter-seminary exposure program on inter-faith dialogue. The audience was primarily a select group of religious and spiritual leaders coming from Mindanao’s Indigenous People, Bangsamoro, and Settlers; the participants also included Christian theology students from other parts of the country and Southeast Asia.
I pray that the hearts and minds of the listeners would be transformed by the Spirit of the Creator in accordance with the Creator’s purpose and will. For sure, my heart and my mind have been enriched by interacting with these young spiritual and religious leaders. I’m so hopeful for the future of peacebuilding as initiated by spiritual and religious leaders.
Thank you Dr. Jerson B. Narciso for inviting me. Thank you Ms Dee Demaisip Bat-og for your hospitality. Thank you Ustadz Abdulkadir Abubakar (Bangsamoro) and Ms. Sihaya Ansibod (Indigenous People) for being part of my teaching team, sharing your perspectives of this Peace Theology from your respective Muslim and Lumad spirituality.
InterSeminary Summer Exposure Program on InterFaith Dialogue 2017, Southern Christian College, Midsayap, North Cotabato. 26 March – 05 April 2017.
Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2017/04/05/i-had-the-privilege-of-teaching-at-an-inter-seminary-summer-exposure-program/
Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2017/03/07/most-of-our-present-energies-are-focused-on-par-leadership-building/
Mar 01 2017
A prayer for peace for my beloved people in this beautiful land, especially these days when our people are so divided and the horizon seems to be too dark:
For the success of the Duterte government in its vision to fight against corruption, criminality, and drugs; for the determination of the government to stop the spate of killings and to pursue justice for all victims of human rights violations; for the legislature to stop the reinstatement of the death penalty; for the all-out war to stop; for the resumption of the peace talks; for the successful implementation of federalism in the context of the differing cultures of our various regions.
For the success of the People Power movement to be faithful in renouncing the abusive, destructive regime of the Marcoses starting from the traumas of Martial Law to the present revisionism of history; for the Cojuangco-Aquino clans to face justice regarding the traumas suffered by the peasants at the Hacienda Luisita Massacre and the farmers during the Mendiola Massacre.
For the success of the National Democratic Front in advancing pro-people policies and justice-based peace for the masses; for their continuing courage and energy to advance our liberation from the oppression of bureaucrat-capitalism and our liberation from US imperialism; for a bilateral ceasefire and mechanism for the security of the masses; for an open-minded approach to assess the sustainability and impact of armed-struggle vis-a-vis the regenerative impact of active non-violent approach towards radical transformation as seen in many movements in other parts of the world.
For the success of the Cordillera People’s struggle to attain genuine autonomy and for them to enjoy their right to self determination in their liberated ancestral domain; for the continuing reflection on the enhancement of their inter-tribal conflict transformation processes in the context of their cultural values.
For the success of the various Indigenous Peoples in liberating, defending, protecting and preserving their respective ancestral domains and to enjoy their right to self-determination in accordance with their own worldviews, value systems, and customary laws.
For the success of the Bangsamoro to enjoy their right to self-determination in a liberated ancestral domain where they can enjoy the stewardship of their natural resources and to live their lives in accordance with their Islamic values.
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” ~ Jesus, The Carpenter
Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2017/03/01/this-is-how-i-pray-for-the-philippines-these-days/
Feb 02 2017
PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI) and Coffee For Peace (CFP) have been enjoying a growing relationship with the various tribes of Kalinga province. I visited Kalinga again as a continuation of our prayerful commitment to support their aspiration for genuine autonomy.
I praise the Great Creator —
- for those rich moments of bonding with our Kalinga family who adopted Joji and me — the Alngag clan where Tala belongs; especially grateful to God for Malou Alngag who shared her vision and enthusiasm to advance peace and reconciliation (PAR) principles and practices in Kalinga through her professional skills and expertise in the field of Public Administration;
- for a wonderful chance to have mentorship sessions with Aiza, our field worker there, and to get to know her family and the Banao tribe where she belongs — especially his father, Gilbert Baluyan — in Barangay Talalang, Balbalan, Upper Kalinga;
- for the privilege of speaking before the pastors and church leaders there and precious time of conversations to deepen our relationship with them;
- for the rich time of fellowship and sharing of hearts and minds with the leadership of the Cordillera People’s Liberatìon Army (direct core group of the late Father Conrado Balweg), especially for the generous hospitality of Ma’am Chupan Chulsi, their Chief of Staff;
- for the joy of seeing again my brother, Johnny Sawadan, who is volunteering to help establish PAR communities in the Cordillera Region; and,
- for the opportunity to share peace and reconciliation (PAR) principles and practices with the local government officials; and, for the chance to formally present the inclusive development consulting services of PeaceBuilders Community and the economic-ecological transformation initiatives of Coffee For Peace.
Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2017/02/02/the-banao-and-sumacher-tribes-in-kalinga-welcome-pbci-cfp/
Jan 19 2017
Between December 2004 and June 2005, I lived among the Bangsamoros in the Municipality of Sultan Kudarat, Province of Maguindanao and shared life with this amazing people group. I was embraced by the people in Sultan Kudarat, specifically by the family of Datu Kharis Matalam Baraguir. It was through their simple life and their daily prayers, seeking to submit their whole being to Allah, that I experienced the kind of Salaam (Peace) that many Bangsamoro are longing for. It was in the person of Datu Kharis Baraguir that I found the Person of Peace in his peacebuilding journey in Mindanao.
Datu Kharis continues to serve as one of our senior consultants at PeaceBuilders Community.
THE HON. DATU KHARIS M. BARAGUIR, SR.
Bangsamoro Historical Narrative and Culture
Datu Kharis was the first elected Vice Governor of the Province of Maguindanao. He is a devout Muslim and a respected elder coming from the Maguindanao’s traditional leadership family. He is a man of peace whom we look up to as our adopted father. All staff and volunteers of PeaceBuilders Community, local and global, are required to go through Datu Kharis’ orientation on Mindanao Peace Process from the Bangsamoro perspective.
Asked what motivates him to work with a Christian peace building community like us: Islam is a religion of peace (salaam). It is consistent with Islamic teaching to be friends and co-workers of the People of the Book who truly practice the ethical principles of their faith. I am a Muslim member of PeaceBuilders Community.
Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2017/01/19/we-honor-the-man-of-peace-who-welcomed-us-in-mindanao/
Jan 06 2017
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
What a journey we had in 2016! Here’s a bunch of stories we shared to our accountability partners here in the Philippines.
Our focus in the year 2017 is to establish Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Communities in the five provinces of Panay Island. In the last quarter of 2016, we have initiated PAR community organization in the Province of Capiz. We are also praying and working on organizing and establishing PAR Communities in the provinces of Aklan, Antique, and Iloilo.
For the past 5 years, we’ve been praying to start a PAR movement in Western Visayas. We have assigned Twinkle ‘Tala’ Alngag Bautista as our lead person and field manager for this specific task. Tala is a seasoned field team leader who successfully established PAR communities in Bukidnon, Mindoro Occidental, and Kalinga.
This is a part of a protracted, active, nonviolent, radical transformation.
PAR PHILIPPINES: VISION 2020
Imagine. By December 31st, 2020, each of our provinces will have a circle of leaders called Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Communities! They would serve as the catalysts to organize PAR Teams in their municipalities or cities. These PAR Teams, in turn, would serve as radical transformation volunteers in their respective families, churches, neighbourhoods, barangays, cities or municipalities. The PAR Teams would also get involved in PAR Programs that are relevant to their specific context.
We are operating in 33 out of 81 provinces in the Philippines as of January 2016 — 20 in Mindanao, 4 in Visayas, 09 in Luzon.
These PAR Communities and the PAR Teams they have organized would be the backbone of a national PAR Movement. Then we can see, and we can count on, a well-equipped, efficiently-organized, and effectively-mobilized Peace and Reconciliation constituency.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
For now, let’s work on how we can establish at least one PAR Community in each of the 81 provinces in our country.
So, how do we get there from here?
1. Find a Person of Peace in the province. Many would claim themselves to be the person of peace in the whole province. Beware of that person! He might want to use us in his or her personal interest, be it amassing material wealth or gaining political power. We are simply looking for a person of peace.
This principle is from Jesus’ instruction to the seventy people he sent out:
“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.” (Luke 10:5-7 NIV)
A person of peace must be discerned and would have the following characteristics:
- Prioritizes Kingdom values in her or his life. Righteousness, justice, peace, and mercy are very important to this person.
- Earns the respect of people. This person’s family and community regard him or her as trustworthy.
- Accepts and welcomes strangers. This person is hospitable.
- Cares about your safety and security. This person becomes your protector.
- Expands your connections to a network of key leaders. This person serves as your ‘public relations officer’.
The person of peace who practice a set of biblical leadership ethics must also be discerned communally. The discernment process will be done in consultation with each province’s fellowship of pastors and Christian leaders. PAR Leaders are respected women- and men-of-peace who are actively modelling a person who demonstrates
- a heart of a servant;
- a soul of a teacher;
- a mind of a manager; and,
- the strength of a leader.
2. Arrange an exploratory meeting with a group of leaders in a given province. These leaders must be endorsed and gathered by the PAR Leader who is also our trusted Person of Peace. The objectives of this meeting are:
- to present the Vision 2020 to the leaders in a given province
- to get a commitment from those leaders to organize themselves as a PAR Community
- to get a commitment from the new PAR Community to gather a minimum of 25 interested participants to go through PAR Seminar Series
3. Facilitate PAR Seminar Series among the leaders. The PAR Community will have to provide the food, lodging and transportation expenses for the PBCI training team of 3-5 people, the seminar venue, participants’ food and lodging, and the cost of training materials. Copies of the Peace and Reconciliation Resource Manual can be ordered from the PeaceBuilders Community by emailing our PAR Consulting Team (firstname.lastname@example.org).
4. Facilitate the organization of PAR Communities in every province under the leadership of the PAR Leader or the person of peace. These PAR Communities are groups of community leaders—church leaders, local government leaders, non-government organization leaders, or any mix of these—
- who have expressed interest to have a working relationship with us as a consulting and training team focused on Peace and Reconciliation;
- who have made a commitment to embrace Peace Theology;
- who have invited us to teach them our PAR Seminar Series;
- who have a vision to work with us in developing a PAR Program needed in their area; and,
- who have organized themselves as a catalyst group to organize PAR Teams in their particular province.
5. Assist the provincial PAR Communities in organizing municipal or city PAR Teams. PAR Teams are composed of local volunteers from various communities who are trained for 8 months to be an on-going, rapidly-mobilized teams who will implement their PAR Communities’ programs. The general objectives of PAR Teams are:
- to promote peace and reconciliation in our land by giving skilled, courageous support to communities experiencing various conflicts
- to inspire various parties-in-conflict to discard violence in favor of nonviolent action as a means of settling differences
- to provide various communities with first-hand information and resources for responding to situations of conflict, and to urge their active involvement
- to interpret a nonviolent perspective to the media and to our nation as a whole
6. Develop PAR Program. PAR Communities are encouraged to discern — through prayer and research — the most important and urgent need of their province. This can be done consultation with the Body of Christ and local government units in their province. The output of this discernment process would be a project proposal that can be submitted to appropriate prospective funding partners from the donor community. Examples of PAR Programs include:
- Community Organization
- Peace Education
- Armed Conflict Area Survival Training
- Fact-Finding Missions
- Conflict Transformation
- Disaster Preparedness
- Trauma Healing
- Inter-Faith Dialogue
- Cross-Cultural Communications
- Fair Trade Initiatives
PAR Programs are best implemented by PAR Teams in their own local contexts.
7. Initiate field testing of the new PAR Teams. The PAR Teams will be deployed on the field to test their newly-acquired training. This will be done through the supervision of the the PAR Community. PBCI would serve as technical consultants.
8. Facilitate Training of Teachers to expand PAR Program. Based on the evaluation and learning from the field, PBCI would conduct a Training of Teachers’ Seminar.
9. Encourage the new PAR Community to start a PAR Community in a new province. We need to reach all 81 provinces in our country by 2020. We believe that through faith, prayers, dependence on the Holy Spirit, and exponential qualitative training of PAR volunteers, this will become a reality.
10. Repeat the above process 1-9 in each province. May God bless the spread and multiplication of this PAR Movement.
A NON-VIOLENT, RADICAL TRANSFORMATION
God willing, by January 01, 2021, the PAR Communities in all the provinces of the Philippines would advance as a Peace and Reconciliation Movement with an integrated framework for peace-building, who are organized in partnership with various parts of the People of God, who are mobilized to do ministries of justice and peace in the name of Jesus, and who will lovingly serve all the peoples of our land unconditionally regardless of religion, ethnicity, or political ideology, to the end that our land will experience holistic, radical transformation!
Using an integrated framework for peace-building, PBCI will serve each PAR Community to be equipped in spiritually-energized social discernment and analysis.
1. We will serve each PAR Community by equipping them with certain spiritual discernment skills and social analytical tools to help them understand the issues causing the crises they are facing in their particular province. By having a clear discernment and analysis of their situation, they can make relevant and effective crisis intervention.
2. We will encourage them to look beyond their current crises and to envision a future when there is genuine peace and reconciliation in their particular province. This vision is characterized by the kind of social structures and relationships they would desire. Such long term vision will help them discern the root causes of the crises they are facing and will also help them look through the taken-for-granted facades of social realities that keep the cycle or recurrence of their crises.
3. We will walk with them, in each ‘level of response’ and through ‘the time frame of activity,’ as they move from their crises to their desired change. We will offer how our understanding of shalom transformation (spiritual, psycho-social, socio-political, and economic-ecological) would guide their journey towards their desired future.
May this vision be counted as one of the many prayers for the transformation of our beloved country. May God bring genuine peace and reconciliation among our people and in our land!
Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2017/01/06/this-year-well-focus-on-establishing-par-communities-in-panay-island/
Dec 21 2016
We celebrate the birth of Jesus with much excitement, perhaps even more enthusiastic, as we think of the current journey of our people in the Philippines.
The first major message of the Christmas story is “Peace on Earth!” Why? Because the socio-historical context of the Christmas story was unpeace:
- Roman Imperialism dictated that people should register in their home towns for the purpose of taxation and military statistics. That Jesus was born in a manger was a result of human injustice, redeemed in the Christmas story by the higher purposes of God.
- The socio-political context of Jesus’ birth includes the oppressive Roman Empire manipulating the puppet kingdom of the corrupt Herodian Dynasty in collaboration with the religious institutions and other power holders using patronage politics. The Wise Men used their wisdom to avoid the tricky and deadly diplomatic requirement of King Herod against the Baby Jesus. How do we use wisdom to advocate justice and peace in our own context? The people who have been victims of unjust actions of patronage politicians and oligarchs in the Philippines would find a voice in the original Christmas story.
- The story of Jesus’ birth includes the mass murder of babies as Herod’s death squads hunted the Baby Jesus. Let’s pause in silence to remember those children. Let’s also quiet our hearts to think about the many children in the most vulnerable parts of the world dying of preventable diseases, and the many children who are suffering, and many who died because of the terrorism of US-led Western Powers using technologically-sophisticated warplanes, smart bombs, and state-financed mercenary troops in Iraq, Libya, Syria for the purpose of regime change. Let’s also think of the 6000+ who were killed in this ‘War On Drugs’ in the Philippines since 01 July 2016. How do we teach our children and family members to have the heart of Jesus for those families whose loved-ones were unjustly killed? How do we, Christian leaders, teach those who come to church this Christmas to pray for justice as we pray for joy and peace in this world?
- The Baby Jesus and his parents were actually Jewish-Palestinian refugees, running for their lives from Palestine to Egypt. How many families in the world right now are fleeing for their lives? How many Palestinian families right now are being unjustly pushed out of their homes by the modern State of Israel? How many families right now have been pushed out of their homes because of war in various remote villages in Mindanao? How many families are pushed out of their homes in Mindanao because of exploitative and oppressive mining operations?
The celebration of Christmas must be a celebration of the fact that God is with us — Emmanu-El. This brings hope and peace to the people oppressed by a system of unpeace.
If this is the kind of celebration we’re celebrating, then we can really say that our Christmas celebration is In-God (en Theos) — thus, en-Theos-siastic, or enthusiastic!
May we experience the just and liberating Peace that Jesus brings. May your Christmas celebration be really enthusiastic!
Do not be dismayed
by the brokenness of the world.
All things break.
All things can be mended.
Not with time,
as they say,
but with intention.
The broken world awaits in darkness
for the light
that is you.
~ L. R. Knost
Permanent link to this article: http://waves.ca/2016/12/21/with-much-enthusiasm-we-celebrate-christmas-2016-with-you/