The following piece was on the published by International Alert on their Facebook page.
We are honored to have known Mastura Arimao, a volunteer teacher in Matanog and Parang, Maguindanao, and member of our youth network Movement of Young Peacebuilders’ in Mindanao. We thank him for his warm and affectionate manner, his intelligent enthusiasm and sense of humor, and his quiet strength and sense of purpose. We tip our hats to his crucial contribution in increasing the political participation of young people in the Iranun Corridor.
Mastura first participated in International Alert Philippines’ and the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute’s (MPI’s) Youth Political Leadership Training (YPLT) in 2016 with other youth from different conflict-stricken areas of Mindanao. Here, they sharpened and improved their leadership capabilities to influence positive change in their communities. This led Mastura and two other youth leaders to initiate a research on youth involvement in rido (clan wars) in the Municipality of Matanog, as their change project. The research explored the reasons, causes, and effects of the involvement of young people in clan feuds, the results of which were presented to the LGU of Matanog, religious leaders, community leaders, and Alternative Dispute Resolution Teams. Because of this research, local leaders realized the importance of youth participation in solving problems in the community. This resulted to the institutionalization of the Youth Reconciliation Council in the LGU of Matanog, a council managed by the youth that helps resolve conflict involving young people.
Mastura was also one of Alert’s scholars who participated in the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute's Mainstreaming Peace Education Course in 2017. He wanted to integrate his learning to his teaching profession. Unfortunately, he was not able to teach again as he was diagnosed with an aggressive kind of cancer.
It is with deep sorrow that we bid Mastura farewell. For those who know him, he was first and foremost a selfless and caring friend and mentor. He was the life of the group whenever he is around—witty, funny, and a great story-teller. He had a superb sense of humor and was a fountain of wisdom but, never preachy. Mastura was a perfect example of humility, grace, and strength. He will be missed sorely by all of us whose lives he has touched and inspired. We hope that his memory will continue to inspire his fellow youth leaders to continue the important work of building peace in Mindanao and in the Philippines.
Thank you, Mastura for all that you have brought us. You are indeed one of a kind, your memory will always remain in our hearts. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un.