My friendship with Datu Migketay “Vic” Saway has been a significant spiritual blessing. Our partnership in peacebuilding is based on kinship. “Peace is within our reach,” he says. But this peace “largely depends on our willingness to treat each other within the bond of kinship!” This has been his yearly call to various leaders of Indigenous Peoples, Moro, and Settlers — to gather together to affirm our kinship.
Last 08 March 2019, we all came to Tulugan — the Talaandig ancestral land in Barangay Sungko, Municipality of Lantapan, Province of Bukidnon — in the presence of government officials and the international community to celebrate this historic event.
The IP-Moro Kinship Re-affirmation started in 2012. “This celebration,” according to Datu Migketay Saway, “is a little strand of peace that nurtured our history and culture as people. Our ancestors,” Datu Migketay continues, “established the Five Pillars of Kinship as the traditional bases of our peace pacts. These are cooperation, mutual sharing of information, mutual protection of life, recognition and respect, and, mutual obligation to help the needy.”
During the 2017 Kinship Celebration, the IPs and the Moro formally accepted the Settlers as part of the family.
While PBCI-CFP is a part of a coalition involved in mediating the vertical peace process (between the government and rebel groups), we are more immersed as Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) missionaries in the horizontal peace processes (between IPs, Moros, and Settlers on the ground). This horizontal peacebuilding and conflict transformation processes among the people are the foundation for vertical peace negotiations between political fronts and institutions.
The 08 March 2019 celebration coincided with the International Day of Women and formally recognized the significant role of women in kinship-building and sustaining peace. This year’s celebration also became, according to Datu Migketay, “a simple dialogue as brothers and sisters listening to the unheard but collective voices of the Moro, Indigenous Peoples, Settlers and Women as indispensable means of peace.”
The kinship affirmation of the Indigenous Peoples, Moro, and Settlers at Tulugan, Sungko, Lantapan, Bukidnon, attended by prominent leaders in Mindanao, along with government officials and guests from the international community is a historic event to prove that peace and unity in Mindanao is indispensable.