Youth leads conversations on peace
Last September 13, 2013, as part of the various activities for the Peace Awareness Month (PAM), students from 4 schools - Xavier University High School (Ateneo de Cagayan), Xavier School, Ateneo de Iloilo, and Science and Technology Education Center - engaged in a regional video conference (VC) on peace under the Face to Faith Program of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.
This was the last intra-country VC on peace since August. The VCs promoted awareness among students regarding the peace situation of our country and encouraged young people to make concrete actions towards it.
Face to Faith Philippines coordinator Erwin Montojo said the VCs were meant to make students understand how to respect differences.
“We have been preparing them for video conferences where they can respectfully assert themselves in the context of a dialogue and (sic) to listen to and learn from others like and unlike them. We have been teaching them to find value in diverse backgrounds and gifts,” Montojo said.
Montojo added that PAM allowed students to become part of the solution.
“Now...is a good time for us to make our students’ voices count and to encourage the negotiating panels to be more steadfast in their commitment to and pace in the negotiations,” he said.
Realizations on peace
In light of the Zamboanga siege, the conversations became timely and more meaningful.
The VC allowed students from various backgrounds to exchange ideas on peace. It was evident that the participants had various definitions and insights about peace. When the conversation ended, however, three ideas on peace stood out.
First, the participants believed that peace is possible and attainable. They recognized, however, that to secure and ensure it is a difficult task. It was challenged by many and it is evidently volatile as manifested by the situation in Zamboanga. But, it can still happen.
Secondly, the participants of the VC said that peace is a story of collaboration. It can only happen if everyone will be committed in bringing it forward to our daily lives and if we make it contagious enough to inspire people to act.
Lastly, the youth understood that everyone, including them, had a stake to the peace situation of the country. They believed that there was a considerable amount of strength in numbers, especially in motivating Filipinos to be committed in bringing forth the peace agenda of our land.
Xavier University High School chairperson Jason Superable said peace can be most possible if it starts from within.
“You cannot give what you do not have. To work for peace, one should work from within,” Superable said.
Students realized that there is so much to be done to experience lasting peace in the country and the rest of the world. The VC gave them hope and determination to continue the quest towards achieving it.
After the VC, participants got involved in a nation-wide signature drive campaign allowing students to support the peace initiatives that was started in October through the signing of the Framework of Agreement of the Bangsamoro.
The campaign exhorted the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) not to resort on approaches that will put up walls but rather build bridges of long-lasting peace through the finalization of the said framework.
But that is not the end of it. Participants realized there was still much they needed to understand about the world.
Though being knowledgeable and aware of the issues will help them contribute to the development of their nation, action is still much more needed in achieving peace.
The participants realized that they were beacons of peace. They now must find a way to live it amidst their daily life challenges.
They may be young but by being at peace with themselves and with the people around them, they can contribute in sustaining the peace efforts ongoing in the country.
Peace is possible. -Rappler.com
Samuel Macagba III is the coordinator of the Office of Student Activities and Social Involvement in Xavier University High School-Ateneo de Cagayan and one of the moderators of the Light Cavalry Leadership Community. He is also a member of the Ayala Young Leaders Alliance and actively participates as the representative for Ayala Young Leaders Alliance Region 10.