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Alumni News

News from and about MPI Alumni

Young People and their Role in the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace Negotiations

Progress Study on Youth Peace and Security - colored hands in a circleMPI alumnus and facilitator Michael (Mike) Frank A. Alar wrote a report on young people's involvement in the Government of the Philippines and Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace talks as a country case for the UN's Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security. Along with other country case studies, the report is available for download here.

This report contains the stories of only some of the young unsung heroes of peace in the Philippines.

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Rekindling MPI Memories

Rekindling MPI Memories

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

Mely Lengkong and Novee Rafaela sharing the purpose of MPI Alumni GatheringThe 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.

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A New Milestone for MPI Alumni

A New Milestone for MPI Alumni

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.

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Promoting Peace, Preventing Extremism through the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL)

Promoting Peace, Preventing Extremism through the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL)

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).

People forming a large peace signThe 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.

Solidarity Peace Walk BannerIn the afternoon, there was a Bangsamoro Cultural Solidarity Show and Performances. Each CSO cluster region performed a solidarity cultural show for the people of Marawi. I was the main facilitator.

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.

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War

War

The following essay was written by the 13-year-old son of MPI alumna Golda Pocon, John Vincent Pocon.

War.

Soldiers on battlefield during World War IIThose 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.

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