“Dear Peace” Goes North

NOV 16TH 2008

CFA’s “Dear Peace” Traveling Exhibit and Forum opened in Baguio City on Sept. 23, 2008 with the aim of sharing the experience of peace communication with various colleges and universities there. The forum features the video documentary of the Peace Camp conducted by CFA in May 2006, which brought together Christian and Muslim students of Ramon Avanceña High School. The exhibit showcases the artwork, stories and photos of the kids during the camp. Christian-Muslim issues have grown more relevant in Baguio in recent years because of the growing population of Muslim businesses and families that have settled there.

The video and exhibit opened first at the University of the Philippines-Baguio. Students from four classes of the College of Social Sciences participated in the two video forums, which were led by the CFA Training Department Head, Ms Bob Lopez. Fr. Carlos Reyes, the Executive Secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Interreligious Dialogue, was also present in both sessions to give a backgrounder on Christian-Muslim relations in the country. He also posed a challenge to the students to remain open to dialogue and build bridges with those of other religions. The video stimulated lively discussions among the UP audience and they concluded that more young people like them should get more involved in projects like these to foster unity and eliminate discrimination against particular religious and tribal groups.

On September 24, the team brought the forum-exhibit to the St. Louis University Laboratory High School. The gym was packed with almost 2,000 high school students. After the video showing, there was a series of extemporaneous speeches made by various student leaders, mainly on the issue of peace not only in the country, but also in their own campus. The students rallied their peers in creating a community of cooperation, peace and unity. On the last day of the Baguio tour, the team had 2 forum-exhibits at the University of Baguio. One Muslim student affirmed the message of the video and revealed that he never had any problems relating with his peers despite being a Muslim.

Previous to the Northern Luzon tour, “Dear Peace” made its rounds in Philippine Science High School and in Pampanga.

Science meets Peace

About a thousand science scholars participated in the Dear Peace Forum on August 8, 2008 in the Philippine Science High School campus in Diliman, Quezon City. During the forum some students shared the following insight: “The most significant scene for us is the scene where the paper boat struggles to go to the open water hoping that somebody will get it. It struggles against the waves and the rock. It represents peace that struggles to survive against what history (rock) has brought us.” -(Jerwin Pepito Ruda, John Vincent Romero, Jaycee Urriquia). The teachers and advisers commended the project and requested for follow-up activities that can further increase the awareness of the science scholars on peace and other social issues.

Dear Peace in Pampanga

On July 9-11, 2008, the “Dear Peace Tour” made the rounds of various places in Pampanga. A total of 187 students of the Holy Family Academy in Cutcut, Angeles City, Pampanga participated on the first day. Reacting to the documentary, one student declared: “For me, peace is grace from God that we need to be thankful for. It is about accepting and understanding one another. For peace, I will not pre-judge people, instead I will get to know them, initiate friendships with them so I may accept them for who they really are.” Equally positive reactions were elicited the next day, when about a thousand high school students of Chevalier School viewed the documentary and requested that a similar project be made available to them.

On the third day of the tour, the CFA team presented the video to 200 trainees of the Philippine National Police Regional Training School in Magalang, Pampanga. During the forum, a Muslim trainee thanked the team for getting involved in peace activities among Christians and Muslims. Another trainee revealed that the video challenged her to start peace within herself and among her classmates because if they were the “peacemakers of the country”, then they should start working on themselves first.