It has been almost two years since the Marawi siege when Philippine government forces first began their military assault on the city to root out the Dawlah Islamiya, popularly known as the Maute Group, who believed that promoting their vision of Islam required the use of violence. It took almost five months for the government to defeat the Maute Group and their allies. During the war, many civilians were kidnapped, injured and killed, and thousands were displaced.
Throughout the siege and for the many months that followed, MPI alumni with skills in peacebuilding and conflict transformation responded to those most in need, working to restore just relationships and dealing with those traumatized by the war. Little did they know that many of those with whom they were working or connected were also MPI alumni, that is until 12 March 2019.
On that day, MPI alumni gathered for their first reunion in Northern Mindanao. Twenty peacebuilders, a mix of practitioners and the academe from Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Misamis Oriental and Agusan del Norte, came together at the Institute for Peace and Development in Mindanao (IPDM), Mindanao State University (MSU) in Iligan City, Lanao del Norte.
Many were surprised at the connections, saying: “Hey, I didn’t know you also attended MPI.” These MPI alumni work together on different peacebuilding issues in that region, especially on issues related to the Marawi siege and the impact it still has on peace and development and the life of the people in Marawi and beyond. Only at this MPI alumni reunion in Iligan did they realize their common roots of knowledge on peacebuilding, conflict transformation or active nonviolence. No wonder that after looking around and seeing so many MPI alumni engaged in Marawi, one alumna said: “It would be good to find out what the relevance of MPI is in Marawi.” This is certainly a research project that MPI could consider.