Conferences and seminars encourage a “culture of peace and empathy". For one youth leader, “Youth, with their energy, connections and enthusiasm in advocating peace, can produce change in society."
Davao (AsiaNews) - A group of 100 young professionals from different religious backgrounds, including Christians and Muslims, got together with representatives of indigenous people to promote a "culture of peace" in Mindanao, southern Philippines.
The region has been torn by conflict, most recently in Marawi, scene of an ongoing bloody confrontation since 23 May between terrorists linked to the Islamic State and government forces.
The initiative began last June in Alabel, Sarangani province, led by Jocelyn Lambac-Kanda, who teaches at Holy Trinity College; Jovar Pantao, a professor at Mindanao State University-General Santos City; and Kaharudin Dalaten, a development worker for the Sarangani provincial government.
Young people are constantly participating in conferences that encourage and motivate them to promote a "culture of peace and empathy", which is a basic formula in conflict resolution.
"Amidst the armed conflicts that sow hatred, distrust and bigotry among Filipinos, youth, with their energy, connections and enthusiasm in advocating peace, can produce change in society," said Lambac-Kanda.
Prof Pantao spoke at various workshops on ‘Turning Point: Exploring My Inner Peace’ so young people can discover how to be in peace within themselves and how this can radiate to others.
To show his support for the inclusion of peace education into the curriculum of public schools, Pantao also led a team in the development of ‘Peace Education Module for Teachers’.
Last May 16-18, the young Moro lecturer served as facilitator in ‘Tudlo Kalilintad: Culture of Peace Training for Muslim Educators’, which saw the participation of Muslim teachers from Sarangani.
For his part, Kaharudin Dalaten said the situation of Mindanao youth can reflect and allow them to discover their role in addressing issues affecting the youth like less participation to local governance, violent extremism, and illegal drugs.
Kanda and Pantao were both United Nations Association of the Philippines Outstanding Youth Leadership Awardees in 2009 while Dalaten was the 2016 Youth Ambassador for Peace-Asia of the United Nations Universal Peace Federation.
All youth leaders are committed to fostering understanding and unity in their respective communities through the promotion of a culture of peace.