Participating in the Trauma Healing and Reconciliation in Divided Communities course, as part of the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute Foundation, Inc.’s Annual Peacebuilding Training in 2015, was a great experience for Debbie Satentes-Dasang, a Guidance and Counseling Director at Southern Christian College (SCC), Midsayap, Mindanao. The topic that influenced Debbie the most was “Prejudice Bias on Social Dimensions of Education.” She learned how to become a tolerant person in different contexts.
Dimensions of education are actually part of the curriculum in SCC, an institution where Debbie also lectures. The trauma healing course enhanced her knowledge and contributed greatly to her performance as an academician, counselor and postgraduate student. During the time she was with MPI, she was also fulfilling her last academic requirements in her graduate studies prior to her thesis writing. As such, she was able to use the course material—methodology, concept, and strategies—as reference sources for her lectures and her thesis.
As a counselor, she firmly upholds the principles of neutrality and impartiality. Finding the best solution without offending any parties is an important value in her work. Many students rely on her trustworthiness and advice. Debbie prioritizes her time so she can be a good listener during their emotional sharing even if it disrupts her schedule. Feeling discriminated against in society and family issues that interfere with academic performance are the frequent problems of students with whom she deals every day. Every time the students thank her and express relief, she feels contented and satisfied. Helping students to regain their confidence and passion to finish their studies is a meaningful achievement in her life.
For decades tensions in Northeast Asia surrounding history, territory, militaries, and nuclear weapons have peaked and dipped, due to the work of political actors both inside the region and beyond, who seek only their own nation’s gain. The “hot spot” of our region—the Korean Peninsula—is the only region of the world still divided by the otherwise longgone Cold War Era. However, the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang enabled a new wave of exchange, and we are now observing dramatic potential for change in the relationship between the two Koreas and other stakeholders.
Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute (NARPI) will hold its 8th annual Summer Peacebuilding Training in Jeju Island, South Korea, from August 8-21, 2018. NARPI trainings have been held yearly since 2011, in rotating locations around Northeast Asia.
As people who work on peacebuilding in the region, we feel it is hopeful and timely that this year’s NARPI training will take place in Korea, on Jeju Island. We hope to contribute to the growth of this new wave of peace and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula and in the region—a wave that is still quite weak, but that we aim to strengthen through our gathering.
Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from Island Provinces and mainland Mindanao attended a three-day event from February 18 to 20 in Marawi to promote peace and solidarity from the city that was the center of a major armed conflict less than a year ago. The summit was jointly organized by the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society headed by Ka Guiamel Alim and the Mindanao State University through the Institute for Peace and Development in Mindanao. The activity was supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The summit was the result of series of consultations in different areas of Mindanao. The first day, February 18, was the Solidarity Peace Summit. Participants were active at all levels of the summit. I was a facilitator during the workshop with former MPI board member and resource person Guiamel Alim. The workshop explained ways forward.
During the morning of the second day, February 19, there was a Solidarity Peace Walk with Press Conference with the People of Marawi especially the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). IDP representatives voiced out their sentiments and CSO leaders expressed their solidarity messages with the people of Marawi. Local Government Units, Police and Military were invited as well. Fifteen thousand people joined in the peace walk, mainly youth and students, far beyond our expectations.
On the last day, there was a solidarity visit and reflection at the “Marawi Most Affected Area” or “Ground Zero,” where we offered prayers. I served as the guide during the visit that we arranged with the military. A debriefing and a closing program—the crying moment—followed the visit.
In addition to these activities, there was also a mural peace signing. Finally, there was an exclusive open forum of the Lanao CSOs with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal in support of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.
MPI Alumni Local Gathering
Southern Christian College, Midsayap, Mindanao
On March 17, 2018
Top picture, MPI Alumni, SCC staff and MPI staff: Left to right in front: Debbie Satentes, Maechille Quĩnones, Elma Neyra, Mely Lengkong, Novee Rafaela, and Jeanyline Alvarado. Left to right at behind: Mary Jorolan, Joseph Reyson, and Jonathan Deluvio
The Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute Foundation, Inc., in partnership with Southern Christian College (SCC), Midsayap, successfully held the first MPI Alumni local gathering in Central Mindanao, Philippines. The event took place on March 17, 2018, at Southern Christian College in Midsayap. Seven MPI Alumni from different years and some faculty members from SCC attended the gathering. The alumni included: Joseph Erson Reyson, Maechille Quĩnones, and Jonathan Deluvio (2007); Jeanyline Alvarado, Redentor C.Alejado, and Mary Jane Jorolan (2013); and Debbie Satentes (2014). The three representatives from MPI were: Peacebuilding Training Program Officer, Novee Wila Rafaela, MPI Alumni Outreach Assistant, Mely Sabina Ester Lengkong (Mely on the left and Novee on the right in picture), and MPI Student Intern from the University of Southern Mindanao, Datu Beds Kali.
The activities began with welcome remarks from Dr. Elma M. Neyra, the Vice President for Research and Extension of SCC. Mely Lengkong and Novee Rafaela also delivered short speeches regarding the purpose of the alumni gathering. After that, the activities turned to the short introductions from each alumni when they shared their inspiring stories.
MPI’s Alumni Outreach Assistant, Mely Sabina Ester Lengkong, met with some of MPI’s Annual Peacebuilding Training alumni from Indonesia during the Regional workshop on Violent Extremism and Religious Education in Southeast Asia sponsored by Pusat Pengkajian Islam dan Masyarakat (PPIM) Universitas Islam Negeri (UIN) Jakarta, Convey Indonesia, and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 11 to 13 December 2017. After finishing the first-day session, Mely held a short check-in with MPI alumni Ridwan Al-Makasar (2016), Perdian Tumanan (2016), and Adi Prasetijo (2004). It was the second time for someone from MPI to be reunited with Indonesian alumni. The first time was on 17 October 2017, when the Executive Director of MPI Christine Vertucci participated in the 6th Action Asia Peacebuilders Forum on "Preventing Violent Extremism: A Peacebuilding Perspective" at Le Meridien Hotel, Jakarta.
MPI was excited to hear about the initiative from the Indonesian alumni to establish a national peacebuilding institution. Ridwan Al-Makassar and Perdian Tumanan are the initiators for the Indonesia Peacebuilding Institute (IPI). This initiative came up after participating in the MPI 2016 Annual Peacebuilding Training. They were concerned about the elements that contribute to conflict in Indonesia (race, tribe, religion, politics, economy, environment, etc.). These elements have the potential to be exploited by groups in Indonesia who use violence to advance their agenda. Unfortunately, Indonesia lacks a peacebuilding institute that can serve as a catalyst in preventing and resolving conflicts in the society. Therefore, the IPI will be one such peacebuilding catalyst in Indonesia.
The IPI has 22 members and will increase as development progresses. The members are in the process to get the independent legal foundation permit from the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights of the Republic of Indonesia. Hopefully, it will be released in late January or early February 2018. Another initiative is the publication of a book to be written collectively by 30 Indonesian alumni of MPI’s Annual Peacebuilding Training. Recently, 20 alumni committed to write their stories. Christine Vertucci will write the foreword to the book. The members are still looking for a publishing agency and other ways to publish the book.
MPI appreciates and is proud of the Indonesian alumni for this great initiative to establish an Indonesian Peacebuilding Institute. To have MPI alumni initiate such a project is a new milestone for MPI and speaks to the success of its Annual Peacebuilding Training. MPI hopes that all processes will run smoothly and on time.