At Mennonite Church Canada, they refer to this as Peace Learning Tour Philippines. For us at PBCI-CFP Team, we see these partners and friends as faith-siblings who did accompany us in our field work. This field trip happened last 13-22 January 2023. Norm Dyck led the group — Andrea, Anita, Brent, Dorothea, Dorothy, Edna, Lois, and Rose. They travelled with us, the Inclusive Development Team of PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. and Coffee for Peace (PBCI-CFP IncluDev Team), and visited some of our field partners in Mindanao. The tour included visiting Davao Bible Community, our local church partner; the Talaandig Indigenous People’s community; the Obo Manobo IP community and our common partner, the Energy Development Corporation; the Tri-People’s Farm owned by Romy and Lulu Elusfa; and the Bagobo Tagabawa IP community. We concluded the tour with a rest and recreation day at the Paradise Beach Resort.
Harmonizing a peace learning tour and our regular field objectives
We’re always excited to welcome friends and partners who come to see what we’re doing here in this country. And we want them to experience exactly what we regularly do in the field.
We chose the third week of January as the best time to welcome Andrea, Anita, Brent, Dorothea, Dorothy, Edna, Lois, Norm, and Rose to accompany us on our field work. Our major objectives for the 8-day trip were:
- to renew our partnership with the Talaandig Indigenous People through a ritual offering to the Great Creator;
- to celebrate the establishment of the Obo Manobo tribe’s coffee processing facility and to turnover to them a coffee farming manual we have written and designed; and,
- to join the Bagobo Tagabawa’s launching of their Indigenous educational program for young people.
Interspersed with these field objectives were activities and visits to places that invite conversations on:
- our affirmation of our membership in the Body of Christ;
- the importance of communicating peace and reconciliation principles to wider audiences through arts;
- an exploration of justice-based peace and reconciliation dialogue between Indigenous Peoples’ communities and extractive corporations operating in IP ancestral domains; and,
- the journey of this Anabaptist peacebuilding ministry towards decolonization and localization.
Affirming our membership with the Body of Christ
We have been sent out by Mennonite Church Canada. The organizations we helped established, PeaceBuilders Community and Coffee for Peace, are holistic ministries embodying an Anabaptist segment of the Body of Christ, applied in the contexts of Philippine realities. So, this Peace Learning Tour started worshipping with a local congregation who have embraced our Anabaptist theology. The pastoral staff and key lay leaders in this local church have been trained in a peace theology, following a disciplined academic standard.
Peace and reconciliation expressed through the arts
Peace is intrinsically the Creator’s artistic characteristic from the beginning. The Creator’s complex of ecosystems, biological diversity, and humanity on this tiny blue planet multiplied, diversified, integrated, and thrived in sustained equilibrium since time immemorial. Nature peacefully and creatively animates cosmic desire.
Theological statements on peace limits human understanding and experience of the Creator’s shalom. So, we’ve partnered with Kublai Millan, a national artist who communicates the Creator’s love, joy, and peace through his art. We had a half-day’s conversation on this at the Balay Kalipay Art Centre—a mini campus filled with artistic buildings, giant sculptures, and murals on the Creator’s love, joy, and peace. You can access an online experience of Balay Kalipay or House of Joy in this video.
Peace theology, the creation, and the corporation
Is it possible and realistic to sustain a genuine, justice-based peace and reconciliation dialogue between Indigenous Peoples’ communities and extractive corporations operating in IP ancestral domains? How does a theology of creation care guide a small band of peacebuilding workers in this complex challenge and task?
Peace theology, decolonization, and localization
We also explored the issue of decolonization and localization in some of our conversations. We barely touched the surface involved in these issues. But we’re glad some significant seeds for future discussions have been planted.
Tala Bautista, senior vice president at CoffeeForPeace.Com delineates these concepts in her master’s thesis at the Mennonite Eastern University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding: Decolonizing and Localizing Peacebuilding Through a For-Profit Social Enterprise: The Story of Coffee for Peace and PeaceBuilders Community.