Lakambini at Lakan

Joji & Dann Pantoja are beginning to use their Tagalog indigenous name — "Lakambini Mapayapa & Lakan Sumulong" — as they seek to practice peace and reconciliation principles in the armed conflicted areas in the Philippines. For them, "Lakambini & Lakan" is a statement that their indigenous identities can be a redeeming factor in healing their ‘being’ — that is, who they are as community members of particular ethno-linguistic groups who are in a journey-of-healing from the wounds of colonial oppression. "Lakambini & Lakan" also helps them symbolize their determination to contribute to what they believe, as a people, ought to be ‘doing’ — that is, active, non-violent, radical transformation. Finally, "Lakambini & Lakan" is a statement of determination how they view their priorities on what they and their small organization will be ‘having’ — that is, hope-filled communities practicing inclusive development based on justice and peace.

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Chairman Kim Jong-un, State Affairs Commission, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; and, President Moon Jae-in, Republic of Korea. Arirang Photo.

We’re happy that North and South Korea are about to begin their unification process! We applaud the persistent effort of the South Korean government to make this inter-Korean summit a successful event. “Since his inauguration in May 2017,” a Hankyoreh editorial stated, “Moon has continually made overtures of peace to the North.” We are also excited to hear more from the North Korean government how they would proceed with this peace and reconciliation process. NK News quoted Kim Jong-un as saying to Moon Jae-in: “I came here with the determination to shoot a signal flare while standing at a starting point of the moment when a new history of the inter-Korean relations, peace and property, is written.”

Along with all the Koreans and the rest of the world, we celebrate the first steps towards the reunification of North and South Korea — with critical set of lenses.

Looking at this wonderful event from a geopolitical perspective, a part of our inner being is lamenting. The major reason why the United States and the Western nuclear powers are forced to recognize Pyongyang is that, North Korea is now a new nuclear power. North Korea’s “completion of state nuclear armament,” according to a major Korean newspaper, had established a “balance of power” with Washington. And Kim Jong-un actually said: “A nuclear test site would be closed and ‘dismantled’ now that the country has learned how to make nuclear weapons and mount warheads on ballistic rockets”.

North Korea did not agree to mutual denuclearization as Donald Trump claims. Here’s how Matt Kwong, an analyst at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, puts it:

To Western powers, denuclearization would mean nothing short of a complete and irreversible dismantling of the North’s nuclear program. Conventional wisdom says that won’t happen, as a nuclear deterrent is viewed as vital to the regime’s survival, described in propaganda over the weekend as a “treasured sword.”

To Pyongyang, though, denuclearization is interpreted as applying to the entire Korean Peninsula, including the withdrawal of American troops from South Korea and the removal of the U.S. “nuclear umbrella” alliance with Seoul.

Chairman Kim Jong-un and President Moon Jae-in walk with traditional Korean honor guards. Arirang Photo.

In this world, the sad reality is that a country has to have nuclear power capability to earn some sort of respect. It’s all about nuclear deterrence. A geopolitical think-tank group understand nuclear deterrence this way:

The strategic concept of deterrence aims to prevent war. It is the justification virtually every nuclear state uses for maintaining nuclear arsenals… The concept of nuclear deterrence follows the rationale of the ‘first user’ principle: states reserve the right to use nuclear weapons in self-defence against an armed attack threatening their vital security interests. Possession of nuclear weapons could be seen as the ultimate bargaining tool in international diplomacy, instantly giving any nuclear state a seat at the top table.

Let’s dance, eat and drink with Planet Earth for this event! This is an exciting new beginning! Let’s join the people of the Korean peninsula in celebrating this achievement. Let’s be grateful for the fact that Moon Jae-in, the President of the Republic of Korea and Kim Jong-un, State Affairs Commission Chairman of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are now in a peace dialogue.

But let’s continue to pray, hope and work toward genuine peace based on truth-and-love, justice-and-mercy. Let us keep pursuing the kind of peace that is beyond mere nuclear deterrence. Let us pursue salaam-shalom.


Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula

President Moon Jae-in and Chairman Kim Jong-un engage in a dialogue during the inter-Korea summit. Arirang photo.


During this momentous period of historical transformation on the Korean Peninsula, reflecting the enduring aspiration of the Korean people for peace, prosperity and unification, President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea held an Inter-Korean Summit Meeting at the Peace House at Panmunjom on 27 April, 2018.

The two leaders solemnly declared before the 80 million Korean people and the whole world that there will be no more war on the Korean Peninsula and thus a new era of peace has begun.

The two leaders, sharing the firm commitment to bring a swift a swift end to the Cold War relic of longstanding division and confrontation, to boldly approach a new era of national reconciliation, peace and prosperity, and to improve and cultivate inter-Korean relations in a more active manner, declared at this historic site of Panmunjom as follows:

1. South and North Korea will reconnect the blood relations of the people and bring forward the future of co-prosperity and unification led by Koreans by facilitating comprehensive and groundbreaking advancement in inter-Korean relations. Improving and cultivating inter-Korean relations is the prevalent desire of the whole nation and the urgent calling of the times that cannot be held back any further.

1) South and North Korea affirmed the principle of determining the destiny of the Korean nation on their own accord and agreed to bring forth the watershed moment for the improvement of inter-Korean relations by fully implementing all existing agreements and declarations adopted between the two sides thus far.

2) South and North Korea agreed to hold dialogue and negotiations in various fields including at high level, and to take active measures for the implementation of the agreements reached at the Summit.

3) South and North Korea agreed to establish a joint liaison office with resident representatives of both sides in the Gaeseong region in order to facilitate close consultation between the authorities as well as smooth exchanges and cooperation between the peoples.

4) South and North Korea agreed to encourage more active cooperation, exchanges, visits and contacts at all levels in order to rejuvenate the sense of national reconciliation and unity. Between South and North, the two sides will encourage the atmosphere of amity and cooperation by actively staging various joint events on the dates that hold special meaning for both South and North Korea, such as 15 June, in which participants from all levels, including central and local governments, parliaments, political parties, and civil organisations, will be involved. On the international front, the two sides agreed to demonstrate their collective wisdom, talents, and solidarity by jointly participating in international sports events such as the 2018 Asian Games.

5) South and North Korea agreed to endeavour to swiftly resolve the humanitarian issues that resulted from the division of the nation, and to convene the Inter-Korean Red Cross Meeting to discuss and solve various issues including the reunion of separated families. In this vein, South and North Korea agreed to proceed with reunion programmes for the separated families on the occasion of the National Liberation Day of 15 August this year.

6) South and North Korea agreed to actively implement the projects previously agreed in the 04 October, 2007 declaration, in order to promote balanced economic growth and co-prosperity of the nation. As a first step, the two sides agreed to adopt practical steps towards the connection and modernization of the railways and roads on the eastern transportation corridor as well as between Seoul and Sinuiju for their utilisation.

2. South and North Korea will make joint efforts to alleviate the acute military tension and practically eliminate the danger of war on the Korean Peninsula.

1) South and North Korea agreed to completely cease all hostile acts against each other in every domain, including land, air and sea, that are the source of military tension and conflict. In this vein, the two sides agreed to transform the demilitarised zone into a peace zone in a genuine sense by ceasing as of 2 May this year all hostile acts and eliminating their means, including broadcasting through loudspeakers and distribution of leaflets, in the areas along the Military Demarcation Line.

2) South and North Korea agreed to devise a practical scheme to turn the areas around the Northern Limit Line in the West Sea into a maritime peace zone in order to prevent accidental military clashes and guarantee safe fishing activities.

3) South and North Korea agreed to take various military measures to ensure active mutual cooperation, exchanges, visits and contacts. The two sides agreed to hold frequent meetings between military authorities, including the defence ministers meeting, in order to immediately discuss and solve military issues that arise between them. In this regard, the two sides agreed to first convene military talks at the rank of general in May.

3. South and North Korea will actively cooperate to establish a permanent and solid peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. Bringing an end to the current unnatural state of armistice and establishing a robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula is a historical mission that must not be delayed any further.

1) South and North Korea reaffirmed the Non-Aggression Agreement that precludes the use of force in any form against each other, and agreed to strictly adhere to this Agreement.

2) South and North Korea agreed to carry out disarmament in a phased manner, as military tension is alleviated and substantial progress is made in military confidence-building.

3) During this year that marks the 65th anniversary of the Armistice, South and North Korea agreed to actively pursue trilateral meetings involving the two Koreas and the United States, or quadrilateral meetings involving the two Koreas, the United States and China with a view to declaring an end to the war and establishing a permanent and solid peace regime.

4) South and North Korea confirmed the common goal of realising, through complete denuclearisation, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. South and North Korea shared the view that the measures being initiated by North Korea are very meaningful and crucial for the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and agreed to carry out their respective roles and responsibilities in this regard. South and North Korea agreed to actively seek the support and cooperation of the international community for the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

The two leaders agreed, through regular meetings and direct telephone conversations, to hold frequent and candid discussions on issues vital to the nation, to strengthen mutual trust and to jointly endeavour to strengthen the positive momentum towards continuous advancement of inter-Korean relations as well as peace, prosperity and unification of the Korean Peninsula.

In this context, President Moon Jae-in agreed to visit Pyongyang this fall.

27 April, 2018

Done in Panmunjom

Moon Jae-in
President, Republic of Korea

Kim Jong-un
Chairman, State Affairs Commission, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea


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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:


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


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.

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We are mentoring the next generation of leaders in this Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) vision and mission  for which we’ve been sent as missionaries. This PAR Movement is now being carried by three ‘organizational vehicles’ — PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI), Coffee for Peace Corp. (CfPC) and AJM Planning and Design (AJM). These young leaders are organizing themselves to run a social enterprise to sustain this PAR Movement.

Seeking points of convergence of three organizations. PBCI, CfPC and AJM are legally distinct from each other but are exploring the possibility to function as one inclusive development consulting group.


PBCI is a non-profit organization that trains peace and reconciliation leaders and field volunteers — like conflict transformation specialists, restorative justice practitioners, and inclusive development leaders — who are dreaming and working together for a just, radical, and active non-violent transformation of our beautiful land. PBCI normally works in partnership with religious institutions, civil society organizations, political fronts, business corporations, and government agencies.


CfPC is a for-profit corporation. While doing profitable business, CfPC addresses social issues that concern our farmers, our environment, and the peace situation in our land. CfPC is committed to multiply justice-oriented social enterprises in the coffee industry. CfPC is also the primary social enterprise model in this PAR Movement.


AJM’s mission is to create positive impacts on society and the environment through landscape architecture. Through landscape architecture, site planning, urban design, environmental graphics, and digital media, AJM seeks to communicate and demonstrate peace and reconciliation messages as people enjoy public parks, campuses, resorts, camping sites, business centers and other public places throughout the country.



Mentoring new leaders. Starting this year and in the following years to come, we will invest most of our time and energy equipping and empowering a new generation of leaders through the PeaceBuilders School of Leadership (PBSL). PBSL is the continuing education program for current PBCI staff, consultants, and selected volunteers; it is also the training and qualifying program for PBCI’s prospective Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) seminar facilitators, consultants and new staff candidates.

Meet the new members of our senior leadership team who are going through basic and advanced programs at PBSL:


Twinkle Alngag Bautista. We call her ‘Tala’ — the Pilipino term for star. In her own words, she desires to be “a Tala that points toward the Prince of Peace; a star that reflects only the Prince of Peace; to shine pointing to the Shalom.” Tala is a proud member of the Kalinga First Nation and celebrates the fact that she belongs to the Indigenous People (IP). She’s a graduate of the University of the Philippines in Diliman with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism. At an early age, she dreamed to be a missionary. Now that she’s part of PeaceBuilders Community, she testifies with much excitement that she is a ‘peacebuilding missionary’! At PBCI, Tala is our most qualified partnership designer and seasoned inclusive development mentor. At CfPC, she serves as vice president for community development.



Sihaya Ansibod. Her christianized name is Jobelyn Basas. Sihaya obtained her Bachelor of Science Degree in Community Development from Southern Christian College, Midsayap, Cotabato. She is a proud Erumenen ne Menuvu — one of Mindanao’s indigenous peoples. The meaning of her indigenous name, Sihaya Ansibod, is “The Enlightened One”. Her gifts of spiritual discernment and wisdom are being demonstrated in the delicate tasks she’s doing in the field — community organizing, conflict transformation, inclusive development initiatives. She has good working skills in dealing with various kinds of situations, proficient in working with computers, works effectively with PBCI office and field teams, and flexible in adapting changes in new settings.



Aiza Wanay Baluyan. Aiza is ‘Wanay’ — a proud indigenous woman from the tribe of Banao in the Province of Kalinga. She is a Registered Nurse with specific expertise on health advocacy. Along her professional journey, she gained skills on systems administration, event coordination as well as community-based learning facilitation. She is also a dedicated environmental activist. Her dream is to continue her passion to help her people in the area of community-based health care and inclusive development initiatives — such as coffee farming, processing, and marketing. While learning peace and reconciliation with PBCI and CFP, she is also dreaming to rejuvenate the coffee plantations in their tribal lands in Kalinga, starting with the properties her family owns. While finishing her PBSL program, Wanay will serve as systems administrator at the CfPC office.



Bennette Grace Tenecio-Manulit. Bennette holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. She served as PBCI’s director of support operations for several years. She made sure that our field workers — both paid and volunteer staff — were adequately cared for through her administrative and financial management skills. In those times of emergencies due to war and natural disasters, Bennette and her team proved to be efficient and effective in their logistical operations. Her advanced leadership and management skills brought her to lead a national project of the Philippine Relief and Development Services, the relief and development arm of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches. At present, she’s running her own inclusive business with her husband, Norman. Bennette also serves as vice president for public relations at Coffee for Peace Corp.



AJ Moldez. AJ is a graduate of the University of the Philippines—College of Architecture, with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree. He has worked with the pioneers of landscape architecture in the Philippines and since has worked on projects ranging from high end residential projects to masterplanned developments. Right now, he’s the principal at AJM Planning and Design — a collaborative and faith-inspired design studio that is committed to using landscape architecture as a vehicle for peace and reconciliation advocacy. He joined PBCI a year ago and since then have directed his business and professional activities in support of peace theology and inclusive development. While going through his PBSL program, AJ also serves as vice president for innovation planning and design at Coffee for Peace Corp.



Inclusive development consulting group. As we are getting deeply immersed in divided communities because of unresolved conflicts, the more we are becoming aware of the need for inclusive economic development as a critical aspect of our peace and reconciliation mission. Inclusive Development is based on three pillars:

  • high, sustainable, regenerating development and growth to create and expand economic opportunities;
  • broader access to opportunities to ensure that members of society can participate and benefit from development; and,
  • social safety nets to prevent extreme deprivation.

A number of people’s community organizations with whom we are working together are moving towards inclusive development. They are actively involved in the areas of various livelihood initiatives, such as: vegetable farming and marketing; bamboo product manufacturing; and, brick-making using silts and palay hull.

These inclusive development activities are all framed in Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Principles — that is harmony with the Creator (spiritual transformation), with one’s being (psycho-social transformation), with the others (socio-political transformation), and with creation (economic-ecological transformation).

Because of these emerging needs expressed by our field partners, we are prompted to organize ourselves into an integrated inclusive development consulting group. All the talents, expertise, years of experience, and resources of PBCI, CfPC, and AJM are now being evaluated, hopefully to become inter-operable, to serve our clients better.



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May your 2018 be filled with love, joy, peace, and patience!

We’re projecting what we need as we face the New Year. We need to be embraced by love, joy, peace, and patience. And we pray that you also would be embraced by love, joy, peace, and patience this coming year.

Love. We’re facing a global reality where there is increasing divide between people and nations because of race, politics, religion, culture and other factors that make us different from each other. Perhaps this is what John Naisbitt predicted two decades ago: the more global our economies become, the more tribal our identities will be. And these are exacerbated by the interests of those who make billions of dollars when people and nations engage in armed conflicts.

It is during these times of alienation between nations and people when we need most the harmonizing energy of love. We worship a God of love. The DivineLove transcends our differences and bridges us with each other. This is best communicated by this video from Sojourners community, whose mission “is to articulate the biblical call to social justice, to inspire hope and build a movement to transform individuals, communities, the church, and the world.”

Joy. The year 2017 has been filled with fear and sorrow.  There were 1,123 terror attacks and 7,571 fatalities around the world. More than ever, we need the angelic message that went hand-in-hand with the proclamation of the Incarnation. Addressing the terrified shepherds, the angels’ comforting words are so needed by the world’s marginalized people groups whose human security are in great danger: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” God’s presence, the Joy of the world, was given to us through a very gentle intervention of the Eternal One into the chaos and painful realities of the temporal: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12)

As we learn and grasp the extent of humanity’s cruelty against humanity in 2017, we invite you to focus on God’s Joy—for our focus determines our reality. It is through the lenses of God’s transcendent reality that we can see the beauty and the goodness of this world—through the eyes of the Emmanu-El.

One of my most joyful days was with my Vancouver family—whom I terribly miss this Christmas Season. When I’m psycho-socially down, I look at this video and can’t help but swim in the pond of joy.

Peace. The Arabic word salaam and the Hebrew word shalom basically means, “completeness, soundness, welfare, and peace.”  Completeness has the idea of being whole—that is, all the parts are connected with each other.  Soundness can be understood also as safety of the body and clarity of mind.  Welfare can be viewed as wellness—that is, holistic health and prosperity.  Peace can be read as tranquility, contentment, and healthy relationships with God and other human beings, and thus, the absence of any hostility or war.

In a conflicted world, unpeace characterizes the alienated life of human beings—that means, alienation of humanity from the Creator, from our being, from others, and from the creation. This is the prevailing construct of reality in the world today.

But there’s an alternative way to look at Reality—the Creator’s Ultimate Reality. It is the Creator’s will for us to enjoy the quality of life that is characterized by harmonious relationships — with the Creator, with our being, with others, and with the creation. This is Salaam-Shalom Reality. This Reality is the vision of life where spirituality, community, identity, and economy-ecology are harmoniously connected with each other.

One of my most peaceful afternoon in 2017 was in Ligawasan Marshlands in Maguindanao. There, at a territory mostly controlled by Moro Islamic Liberation Front, my fellow peace workers and I had an experience of peace among local folks whose lives are truly submitted to the Creator—whom they refer to as Allah.

Patience. We experienced a bad year in the Philippines due to increased human rights violation, increased poverty despite the so-called economic growth, and betrayal of trust by duty bearers. Observers and analysts are predicting that 2018 would be a more dangerous year. We need a kind of spiritually-energized patience to sustain us through these challenging times. My greatest human inspiration as far as patience is concerned are the people of the Cordilleras. Their rice terraces are the monuments of such patience. Their cultural and political perseverance to protect and defend their ancestral domains show a strong people’s deep awareness of their being. The Cordillera people encourages me to hope for genuine autonomy as they stay true to the peacebuilding and reconciling aspects of their indigenous values and principles.

A timuay—an indigenous people’s leader in Mindanao—taught me that patience is inherent in the inner being of each indigenous person. “Natural spirituality,” he said, “is spirituality of patience.” And both the Christian and Islamic faiths regard patience as a spiritual virtue. The Arabic word sabr is the Islamic virtue of patience, endurance, or more accurately perseverance and persistence. Patience, in Christianity, is one aspect of the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22). A dictionary defines patience as “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.”

Love, joy, peace and patience are the virtues that energize us in our peace-and-reconciliation work with the Indigenous People, with the Moro people, and with the Settlers here in the beautiful island of Mindanao in Southern Philippines. It is this unconditional love that motivates us to joyfully serve these peoples towards peace. Together, we face our challenges with patience from our respective spiritual resources.

Joji and I are followers of Jesus. Our worldview is shaped by our humble understanding of God as our Heavenly Father. We seek to be shaped by the life and work of Jesus of Nazareth in our words and actions. Our spiritual strength comes from the Holy Spirit who energize us with love, joy, peace, and patience. We are convinced that the spiritual power within us is greater than the threats of the greed-oriented, war-mongering powers of this world.

May our 2018 be filled with love, joy, peace, and patience!

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