Artistas for peace: Why not?

MANILA, Philippines - Everyone is getting involved.

Thanks to the power of social media — the power to malign, glorify and, recently, even rescue flood-stranded folks — everyone seems to be compelled to take on, and be passionately involved in supporting a good cause.

And who else are best to lead various advocacies but celebrities? With millions of followers online (and millions more offline) they are the best spokespersons in spreading awareness on issues in need of attention or support.

One good cause in need of attention and awareness is the country’s peace process.

Recently, more than 20 popular personalities, coming from both entertainment and sports sectors, have expressed their commitment to take on peace advocacy, and to call on the public to take on the same advocacy as well.

For them, the time for peace is now.

Unity in diversity

“They come from diverse industries and backgrounds. The Peace Ambassadors will unite for one meaningful cause: peace,” said Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Quintos Deles, referring to the celebrities who will be named National Peace Ambassadors during the launch of the “I am for Peace” campaign in Malacañan Palace this Friday, September 14.

Joining them in saying “I am for Peace” will be no less than President Benigno Aquino III who will lead the campaign launch.

The “I am for Peace” campaign is one of the major activities the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) has lined up in this year’s celebration of the peace month themed “Ako. Ikaw. Tayo. Magkakaiba, Nagkakaisa sa Kapayapaan.”

Headlining the list of the chosen National Peace Ambassadors who will take their pledge on peace in the Malacañan Palace are Black Eyed Peas member, actress Anne Curtis and actor Gerald Anderson.

Other Peace Ambassadors include local celebrities Megan Young and Mikael Daez; social media icon Ramon Bautista; composers Noel Cabangon and Ebe Dancel; Moro artist Datu Khomeini Bansuan; singers Christian Bautista, Karylle, Sam Concepcion and Gloc-9; fashion designers Arnold Galang and the Fashion Design Council of the Philippines led by JC Buendia; sportsman and TV host Rovilson Fernandez; and members of the national football team, the Philippine Azkals.   

For OPAPP, getting these big names with no fee at all didn’t come hard: it was the celebrities themselves who expressed their interest in supporting the government’s peace process.

"This actually started with one of our peace ambassadors who has a friend working in OPAPP. She got interested in what we're doing in the peace process and wanted to know what she could do to help,” said OPAPP spokesperson Polly Michelle Cunanan.

“Then it snowballed. Everyone's excited and wanted to know how they can also do their share to push the peace process forward.”

Cunanan added that they appreciate the support that the peace ambassadors are giving to the peace process. “We believe that everyone should put a stake on peace. That is why our message is 'Ako. Ikaw. Tayo. Magkakaiba, Nagkakaisa Para sa Kapayapaan.' As Sec. Deles has always been saying, ‘It is not enough that you want peace, you have to seek it, you have to understand its process, you have to take part in it.’”

“Peace is what our country needs, what the world needs,” popular leading man Gerald Anderson said when asked why he would want to be a peace ambassador.

"To be a peace ambassador is something I would love to do. I want to be of help to more Filipinos in promoting freedom and unity, not violence.”

CHOOSING PEACE. PHOTO SHOWS (from left) GPH Panel member for talks with the MILF Yasmin Busran-Lao, Azkals' Anto Gonzales, OPAPP Sec. Teresita Quintos Deles and Philippine Football Federation president Mariano Araneta

CHOOSING PEACE. PHOTO SHOWS (from left) GPH Panel member for talks with the MILF Yasmin Busran-Lao, Azkals' Anto Gonzales, OPAPP Sec.

Teresita Quintos Deles and Philippine Football Federation president Mariano Araneta

‘The time for peace is now’

More Filipinos are pledging their support for peace as the agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front nears its signing, according to Deles.

“The government has been working hard; but peace building is not the work of government alone. We need more stakeholders who believe in the peace process. For a peace agreement to be truly successful, we’ll need the participation of the entire nation,” Deles said.  

The “I am for Peace” campaign seeks to engage all sectors of society in sustaining support for the country’s peace process. It will also mobilize social engagements and information dissemination especially on the significant developments and milestones of the on-going Mindanao peace talks.  

“Now, more than ever, we have the momentum and leadership needed to write the Philippine success story as a progressive and peaceful nation. The time for peace is now,” Deles said, calling on everyone to take part in sharing the message of peace in homes, in schools, in workplaces and in communities. -