The following essay was written by the 13-year-old son of MPI alumna Golda Pocon, John Vincent Pocon.
Those three letters that came together to form a word that never meant anything good. A big act of mindless violence over brashness, anger, hatred, or revenge. War had never brought us anything but the chance to think things over. To regret, in the broadest sense, really.
The sound of neverending gunfire, explosions, bullets whizzing across the battlefield and the yells of soldiers who were either forced or volunteered to fight against strangers that they only knew because they were designated as their opponents. It was awful. It was horrible. It was just.... Bad.
And to think that warfare is one of the major focuses of humanity. Every now and then, we might see another weapon invented or a new story on the news, talking about tensions rising anywhere. Cash is poured by billions to support bloodshed and not on other, more productive things like medication, education, solutions to poverty, global warming or further progress on extraterrestrial studies and the like.
For almost five years, MPI has been deeply involved with the Higaunon and Subanen Indigenous Peoples for Northwestern Mindanao. Over that period, the two tribes learned much from one another. In April of 2017, this was brought to another level with the Higaunon & Subanen Cross-Sharing, Learning Reflection & Integration for Peace and Solidarity activities. As the MPI will be completing its part in the Resource-Based Conflict and Peacebuilding Training Program by the end of this year, one participant said, “it is a beautiful way to end the project.”
The seven-‐day cross-‐sharing activity covered the wide ranging learning exchanges. A visit to the far-‐flung village of Kumalarang was perfectly timed for the season enabling the participants to observe indigenous farming practices. The participants visted sacred places in Bayug, Iligan. Thye also had the opportunity to visit a freshwater lake of Lakewood.
Together, they observed a policy legislation session of the City Council of Iligan City, where Datu Diamla serves as an Indigenous People’s Mandatory Representative (IPMR). The participants had the opportunity to listen to a Community Relation Officer (ComRel) at the exploratory camp site of TVI Mining company in Balabag, Bayog and in the City of Cagayan de Oro, where they visited the IP Affairs Office. Participants also interacted with the Indigenous Peoples (IP) leaders who had become squatters in their own land because of huge transnational palm plantations. They heard from a city officer who is also a tribal leader who handles the city’s IP affairs office.
By the end, the activity was able to surface narratives about commonalities and uniqueness of the Higaunon and Subanen tribes in relation to their customs and traditions. They learned and shared about IP governance and leadership and preservation and management of their rich natural resources. The cross-sharing contributed to the strengthening of IP governance and leadership as key to asserting the struggle for Indigenous Peoples' right to self-‐determination.
The Interfaith Cooperation Forum has published their October 2017 issue of faith and peace.
The October 2017 faith and peace newsletter includes the following articles:
- The Past, the Future, Reunite at the School of Peace
- Superpower Aspirations while 21 Percent of Children in India Waste Away
- State Infringement of Peoples’ Rights Allows Militancy in Pakistan to Continue Unabated
- Burma Must Act to Prevent Violence against Women in Conflict and Provide Justice for Victims
- Prosecute Wartime Cases in Sri Lanka without Ethnic Bias
- The Enemy
This program aims to make young Congolese ambassadors of peace and non-violence in their respective local communities. Its main objectives are: to equip young people with skills in nonviolent conflict management and in entrepreneurship; to carry out with young people various projects aimed at promoting positive peace and non-violence in youth circles as well as empowering them economically; and finally to create a spirit of collaboration and unity among young people so that they can engage effectively and objectively in the promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence.
18 October 2017, Jakarta, Indonesia
(MPI Director Chris Vertucci participated in this forum)
We, 182 peacebuilders from twenty-one countries in Asia, Middle East, Canada and United States of America met in Jakarta, Indonesia for the 6th Action Asia Peacebuilders’ Forum on the 16th to 18th of October 2017 to gather as a community to discuss and explore solutions under the theme “Preventing Violent Extremism: A Peacebuilding Perspective”.
We declare our firm collective commitment:
We fervently uphold Action Asia’s shared vision of a world of justice and peace, where basic needs are met, and dignity and human rights are respected;
While we acknowledge the United Nation’s efforts mandating member states to create a National Plan of Action to prevent violent extremism, we believe that national and local governments, and local and international resource agencies should seriously consider a paradigm shift recognizing that the issue on violent extremism is not just a security and law enforcement concern, which underscores the necessity for inclusivity such as a consultative approach to all stakeholders most importantly to those directly affected by conflicts and by committing appropriate resources to achieve these goals;