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FIELD NOTES AND REFLECTION ON THE MEANING OF ‘VIOLENT EXTREMISM’

My peacebuilding colleague seems to have lost his confidence in non-violence. In an online conversation, he said: “Kaka Lakan, we have tried applying active non-violent approaches. Ten years. Ten long years… They’re killing us slowly… We might as well die fighting. Sorry, I’ll have to pick up my equipment again…”

Such were the words of Hassan (not his real name), a 29-year old Bangsamoro male from Central Mindanao. I assume he meant M16 automatic rifle and its accessories when he mentioned “equipment.”

I first met him when he was in high school. He used to accompany us around Ligawasan Marsh while distributing relief goods among his village folks in the midst of escalating armed skirmishes. Hassan actively participated in our peacebuilding training and completed the course with much enthusiasm. I saw him grow from being a responsible 19-year old peacebuilding volunteer into a young Moro intellectual who articulated and struggled for the liberation of his people from historical injustices. He was then convinced that Bangsamoro autonomy was possible through active non-violent means.

I immediately invited him to travel to Davao. We had a couple of days sharing hearts and minds like true brothers.

Just before his trip back home, we had coffee together. We gave each other a brotherly hug after a couple of hours of conversation. I said, “See you again.”

He replied with a sad smile: “Bye, Kaka.”

It was then that I posted a quote on social media. It served as a humbling, soul-searching note to myself:


“I want to sound a note of caution amidst any celebrations of Mennonite peacebuilding about the pitfalls of Christian pacifist triumphalism—and with it make a plea for a measure of humility regarding the power of nonviolent alternatives to war…

But Christian pacifists would do well, I suggest, to recognize that in some situations they will have no clear peacebuilding options to advance, no obvious nonviolent alternatives to offer—and that recognition can and should drive them to prayerful silence.”

~Alain Epp Weaver, Strategic Planning, Mennonite Central Committee

I kept silent for a couple of days. In my bedroom. Alone. Humbled.

A few days later, I found out that Hassan blocked me from our social networking connection. His friends told me that he joined a “violent extremist” group.

The language of Violent Extremism has become a popular term here in Mindanao. In most of the seminars and discussions I’ve attended, the definitions used were somehow similar to what Wikipedia posted: “Violent extremism refers to the beliefs and actions of people who support or use ideologically motivated violence to achieve radical ideological, religious or political views. Violent extremist views can be exhibited along a range of issues, including politics, religion and gender relations. No society, religious community or worldview is immune to violent extremism.”

Most of us in the civil society refer to this simply as VE. I like how Andrew Glazzard–a security consultant, and Martine Zeuthen–an anthropologist, examine this ‘VE category’. I resonate with their questions: “Is violent extremism, by definition, something carried out by non-state actors? In conflict situations, how can we differentiate violent extremists from other, more legitimate conflict actors? Does violent extremism always have to be ideological – can it, for example, be criminal, or even purposeless? Is ‘violent extremism’ merely a synonym for ‘terrorism’? More fundamentally, are terms like ‘extremism’ relative – in which case does ‘violent extremism’ mean different things to different people? These are not merely academic questions: what we call a phenomenon helps determine how we see it and what we do in response to it.

Personally, I don’t like this term. There’s so much confusion in the use of this language. Jason-Leigh Striegher, in his 2015 study at the Australian Graduate School of Policing and Security at the Charles Sturt University in Sydney, Australia, said: “By reviewing some of the current definitions of radicalisation, violent-extremism and terrorism in policy documents and academic literature, pertinent points within each have emerged… although the processes of radicalisation, the ideology of violent extremism and the act of terrorism have interdependent relationships, they are in fact three distinct terms that must be clearly understood. By examining each term and its definitions in isolation, a palpable distinction for each was evidenced and a revitalised definition for violent-extremism was proposed. Though acts of terror are not solely a derivative of the radicalisation process, understanding the relationship between the two is paramount to successfully countering violent-extremism. In isolating the three terms we are able to reduce misrepresentation; appreciate and successfully address root-cause issues; devise more pointed policies and programs for intervention; and cope with relevant legal statutes more effectively.”

My readings also brought me to the thoughts of Prof. Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou. He mentioned that violent extremism is fueled by three key factors, namely: alienation, retribution, and dispossession.

I saw some aspects of Hassan’s journey through these lenses.

Alienation. Hassan felt judged after the death of the 44 police commandos during the 2015 Mamasapano debacle. Being a young rural Moro who is committed to the liberation of his people primarily through the Peace Process, he worked alongside with non-Moro peacebuilding volunteers. Many of his friends in the civil society questioned the sincerity of the Bangsamoro after Mamasapano. Hassan felt left out in a number of meetings among peace advocates after Mamasapano: “Kaka, they forgot to invite me again. This is the fourth time they have forgotten to send me invitation. Am I still part of the committee?”

His Moro friends in their original hometown started expressing their doubts in the effectiveness of the peace process. They challenged Hassan if he was “with them” or “with us”. He was pretty sure that “them” — the Indigenous People and Christian peacebuilding volunteers — were “with us.” But more and more, he felt the gap between his Moro community and his non-Moro civil society colleagues in that particular town where he lives.

During our last coffee meeting, he felt the Mindanao Peace Process as merely the government’s way to appease them into inactivity while they perpetuate the historical injustices against the Bangsamoro. “I don’t believe they will really pass the BBL in Congress,” he said. The BBL is the Bangsamoro Basic Law which is now facing tough challenges in the Philippine House of Representatives. “It seems,” he continued while pointing his cup of coffee at me, “nothing will happen in your active non-violent approach.” I was feeling his angst even as he did his best to show respect with his naturally-meek personality.

Retribution. Seven of Hassan’s clan members have been killed in this armed-conflict between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Government of the Philippines (GPH). Two of them were his male, combat-aged cousins. They grew up and played together as children. During times of escalated armed skirmishes, they learned together how to survive weeks, and even months, in evacuation centers.

The death of his cousins prompted him to question the effectiveness of armed struggle. That was the main factor why he volunteered as a peace worker and decided to proceed with a college education.

Right now, he seeks justice. He clarified to me that he understands “the difference between seeking revenge and seeking justice.” But this time, he will seek justice “within Islamic processes”.

“The Philippine justice system,” he complained, “is for the rich and for the powerful families only, Kaka.” And I agreed. I just don’t know what he exactly meant by “Islamic processes.”

Dispossession. Hassan also saw the loss of their family’s source of livelihood. Because of the cycle of armed skirmishes since his childhood, his parents were not able to sustain their rice farming. They lost their rice fields to money lenders who are based in a nearby city — mostly Christians. His parents now subsists through various seasonal employment with local business families.

Hassan’s friends told me that his family received financial assistance from a local Islamic organization. The same organization invited Hassan to join them in a renewed struggle that is “more Islamic.”

When I asked them what they meant by “more Islamic,” they simply said, “Extremist. What else?”

“Extremism,” according to Prof. Mohamedou, “is often the failure of a society, or indeed the acts of a state that can create the conditions for the ill to materialise or persist.”

The story of Hassan, however, may not be the big picture in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). A recent study conducted by the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) presents a more hopeful horizon. Their research findings are worth noting here in full:

  • There was no large-scale radicalization of young Muslims in Mindanao.
  • Almost all Muslim young people had at least a basic understanding of mainstream Islamic principles, but there was very limited understanding of the concepts used by extremists.
  • Overall, young people knew little about specific VE groups beyond the Abu Sayyaf (70%) and ISIS (51%).
  • In all four provinces, there was a minority of young people who expressed sympathy for VE groups believing they were “fighting to defend Islam” and “fighting against oppression.”
  • Youth respondents affirmed the presence of recruiters of VE groups in their community who drove people to being radicalized.
  • There was not a single type of individual that VE groups targeted for recruitment.
  • The survey respondents in all provinces believed that education was a key solution to the problems brought about by VE.

 

I also appreciate the recommendations listed in the said study:


RECOMMENDATIONS TO PREVENT VIOLENT EXTREMISM

There is no single panacea to prevent the spread of a violent ideology or prevent people from joining extremist groups. However, considering the findings of this research, the following responses are suggested:
1. Adopt a comprehensive policy framework to prevent and counter violent extremism upon which national, regional, and local government units can develop and coordinate long-term programs on prevention and short-term programs on mitigation. This policy framework should guide the action of international donors.
2. Mainstream the value of Islamic moderation (wasatiyyah) in Muslim communities. The Government of the Philippines should cooperate with civil society, educational institutions, and religious networks to spread messages of inclusive Muslim beliefs to young people.
3. Develop materials so that leaders in formal and informal education system can ensure that all young people understand how extremist groups operate and the negative effects of joining extremist groups on themselves, their families, and their communities.
4. Promote a high-quality and moderate Islamic education sector. This should include facilitating the adoption of common supervision, accreditation, and standardization of curricula to ensure that the teaching and learning is consistent with mainstream Islamic philosophy.
5. Keep the public school system secular and use it and the informal education system as a platform for building inclusive culture, mutual trust, and understanding of unity in diversity.
6. Provide young people with genuine opportunities for accessible quality education both in the basic and collegiate levels for them to get jobs and employment here or abroad.
7. Provide avenues for young people to express their grievances in a nonviolent manner through various forms of peaceful processes.
8. Provide programs for people who show signs of post traumatic syndrome after exposure to violence and conflict.
9. Invest in high-quality and contextually-appropriate delivery of government services in areas at high-risk of extremism, particularly education and health services.
10. Fast-track the passage and implementation of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL)/Enabling Law/New Autonomy Law that would address poverty and the lack of development through the efficient, effective, and responsive self-governance by way of implementing peace agreements with the MNLF and MILF.
11. Increase public and private investments with programs to attract business towards job creation in areas at high-risk of extremism.
12. Ensure all government jobs are provided in a meritocratic and nondiscriminatory process.
13. Ensure that all young people understand, both in school and out-of-school, how extremist groups operate as well as the negative effects of joining extremist groups on themselves, their families, and their communities.
14. Facilitate the rehabilitation and reintegration of the people who were previously involved in extremist groups.

While there is an important role for Government, the Muslim community itself can be at the forefront of developing solutions to extremism. Through a process of collective reflection and leadership, it is possible to pursue the many solutions to violent extremism that are rooted in traditional institutions and practices fundamental to well functioning Muslim communities.


I hope to meet Hassan again and continue our decade-long relationship as peacebuilding brothers. I pray for his safety. I pray that even in our differences in pursuing justice and peace, we would still seek to continue our interfaith dialogue and cooperation. My faith-based non-violent approach and his faith-based armed-struggle approach may be considered by many as two extremes in a wide spectrum of approaches towards radical transformation. But I’m determined to continue connecting with Hassan, and many of those like him, by building bridges of genuine relationship which is characterized by transparent communication, that would lead to empathy, and then eventually lead to mutual trust.

Because of Hassan and others like him, my commitment to this faith-based, active non-violent approach to peacebuilding is more strengthened in the midst of this discourse on a construct we refer to as violent extremism.

 

Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2018/05/28/field-notes-and-reflection-on-the-meaning-of-violent-extremism/

CELEBRATING AND UNDERSTANDING THE UNIFICATION OF NORTH AND SOUTH KOREA

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


 

Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2018/04/27/celebrating-and-understanding-the-unification-of-north-and-south-korea/

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: https://waves.ca/2018/03/09/joji-travels-to-do-canadian-ministry-dann-stays-with-mindanao-field-partners/

A YOUNGER SET OF LEADERS ARE BEING EQUIPPED TO SPEARHEAD PAR MOVEMENT IN THE NEXT DECADES

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.

 

 

Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2018/02/06/a-younger-set-of-committed-leaders-are-being-equipped-to-spearhead-pbci-cfp-in-the-next-decades/

FRIENDS FROM PENNSYLVANIA-BASED ‘SOCIAL ENTERPRISE GROUP’ EXPLORE PARTNERSHIP WITH CFP

CFP and SEG representatives meet at a local hotel restaurant near PeaceBuilders Community Centre. Friday, 12 January 2018, Davao City.

Our friend, Prof. Jonathan Rudy, Senior Fellow at the Pennsylvania-based Social Enterprise Group, led a team to visit Mindanao for the purpose of exploring partnership with Coffee For Peace. With him were Deborah Drury, Jason Biesel, and Rachel Craft.

Last 07-12 January 2018, they travelled from Pennsylvania to Davao. They visited our farming partners in Mount Apo area and in Mount Matutum area. They also interacted with our social enterprise partners in Valencia, Bukidnon.

Sihaya Ansibod, Toto Balono, Deborah Drury, Jon Rudy, Jason Biesel, Joji Pantoja, and Rachel Craft: CFP and SEG exploring social enterprise partnership

State of CFP. Through field visits, formal presentations, and informal conversations, we have presented to them the current state, movement, and direction of Coffee For Peace Corporation:

:: We are implementing positive actions to improve the quality and consistency of the coffee supply; this is our current focus that would sustain the long-term development of both the producers and CFP.

:: We are streamlining and codifying the organizational structure and the operational system of CFP as a for-profit corporation.

:: We are transitioning from our current level of small-sized business to becoming a medium-sized business by 2020.

Possible Points of Convergence. We also felt that these new friends from the Social Enterprise Institute at Elizabethtown College, Pennsylvania listened to us and heard what we desire as the points of convergence in this budding partnership:

:: To provide research support to CFP. The ideal researcher would be from Elizabethtown College who is able to look at Mindanao’s socio-economic realities and communicate such realities to various audiences in Pennsylvania. The research output should contribute to a clearer social enterprise investment partnership.

:: To proceed with a partnership concept that is best described as Enterprise for Peace Collaborative (E4PC). In this model, coffee would be the initial, major vehicle for peace education and connection. As Prof. Jonathan Rudy articulated well, “the E4PC model might be able to better support the various industries that are in the CFP sphere such as brick making, glamping (glamor camping), carbon offsets, and tribal crafts to name a few.”

We, at CFP, are anticipating with much excitement and energy where this conversations and relationship would lead us.

 

Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2018/01/15/friends-from-pennsylvania-based-social-enterprise-group-explore-partnership-with-cfp/

MAY OUR NEW YEAR BE FILLED WITH LOVE, JOY, PEACE, AND PATIENCE

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!

Permanent link to this article: https://waves.ca/2018/01/01/may-our-new-year-be-filled-with-love-joy-peace-and-patience/