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Participants and facilitators of the 2014 Summer Peacebuilding Training of NARPI

Looking In, Looking Out: My Experience With NARPI

Nanjing, China – Attending the 4th Summer Peacebuilding Training of the Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute (NARPI) was both an insightful and exciting experience for me, someone who was actively involved in organizing the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI) 2014 Annual Peacebuilding Training. I was afforded a rare opportunity to be a participant, not the organizer of the training or a member of the Secretariat. It was hoped that I would be able to bring home new ideas and perspectives that would help in MPI's 2015 Annual Peacebuilding Training. The experience, however, proved to be not only advantageous to my current position in the institute, but also to my professional development as I become more engaged in peacebuilding.

NARPI is a partner institute of MPI and similarly, is a training institute that provides peace education and conflict transformation training to peacebuilders with a focus on Northeast Asia. It was established to create space to build networks and relationships, share stories and experiences and bridge differences among Northeast Asian countries. This year's training, which ran from the 8th to the 22nd of August, was hosted by one of the most prominent and oldest universities in China, Nanjing University, in a city that had once been the capital of the country and a place rich in history and culture—the city of Nanjing.

The 2014 Summer Peacebuilding Training of NARPI brought together 52 participants, most of whom were from Japan, Korea and China, as well as Canada. I found it remarkable to be the only Filipino—in fact the sole Southeast Asian—in the group. I was amazed how similar Northeast Asians are, especially their language, the use of characters and even eating with chopsticks (I had to learn to eat with them for the two weeks, but they were kind enough to teach me how to use them). At times I felt like an outsider, but more often I felt like a long lost relative at a warm family reunion.

NARPI offered six courses with three different courses concurrently held each week for two weeks. I took the Restorative Approach to Historical Conflict in the first week and Peacebuilding Skills: Transformative Mediation in the second week for two reasons. The first is that these courses are not offered at MPI's Annual Peacebuilding Training. The second, and more importantly, I saw both as relevant to what is happening now in my country, particularly in Mindanao. I believed that they would certainly contribute to deepening my understanding of issues that surround the peace process.

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A Demand for Justice for the Killing of Datu Sandigan

On Saturday, September 13, 2014, Higaunon Tribal Leader Datu Sandigan (Fausto Orasan), a staunch anti-mining advocate and campaigner against deforestation, was shot and killed in the hinterlands of Cagayan de Oro City by yet unknown assailants. While the exact motive of the crime has yet to be established, it is believed that it is related to his positions on mining and the environment.

The following Saturday, August 20, members of the Project Management Committee of MPI's Resource-Based Conflict and Peacebuilding Training Program, Phase II, wrote the document below demanding justice for the killing of Datu Sandigan.

"Dying now or dying tomorrow is the same death. What should make a difference is what we are doing when we are still living."

The above is among the most-remembered statements of Datu Sandigan Fausto Orasan, often recalled by fellow tribal leaders of the Higaunon tribe and his response to the warning by his wife.

He was proven both right and wrong when his life was taken away by assassins' bullets in the afternoon of Saturday, 13th of September, 2014 in Barangay Tuburan in the hinterlands of Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines on his way home to Barangay Pigsag-an, a hinterland barangay in the city populated by Higaunons, the indigenous people who originally inhabited the City but now living in the hinterlands.

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Wisdom Weaving: Defending Ancestral Domains Through Integrating Indigenous People’s Practices with Philippine Laws

{videobox}89924938|Memories of Mountains, Memories of Gold||display=box, t_width=360, t_height=210, style="float: right; margin-left: 5px;"{/videobox}For too long, the traditional decision-making practices of the Indigenous People (IP) have come into direct conflict with the governing laws of the Philippines, especially when it comes to determining their rights with respect to and the use of their lands. Despite much talk of having control over their Ancestral Domain, mining companies and other extractive industries and agribusiness used existing laws to encroach upon and exploit the lands and resources of the Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines, often leading to violent confrontation.

On February 28, 2014, tribal leaders, advocates, government officials and friends from Northwestern Mindanao, Philippines, celebrated a sign of hope upon completing  a two-year Resource-Based Conflict and Peacebuilding Training Program of the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute Foundation, Incorporated (MPI) conducted in partnership with Ecosystems Works for Essential Benefits, Inc. (EcoWEB) and Pikhumpongan Dlibon Subanen, Inc. (PDSI). Fifty tribal leaders and advocates, including 26 Subanen and 23 Higaonon men and women leaders gathered together for a graduation ceremony of this two-year program (watch a video of the MPI, EcoWeb, PDSI Training Program above). The Subanen leaders who completed the program came from the Ancestral Domains in Bayog, Kumalarang and Lakewood in Zamboanga del Sur and Sindangan in Zamboanga del Norte.  The Higaonon leaders were from the Ancestral Domains of Bayug Iligan in Lanao del Norte and Dulangan in Misamis Oriental (click here to see a map).

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MPI Profiled in New Routes Magazine

In 2013, the story of MPI was told in New Routes a magazine published by the Life &Peace Institute. Gabrielle Aziza Sagaral wrote the article, which weaves the recent Bangsamoro Peace Process with the history of MPI. While written in 2013, it is very relevant today. We encourage you to download the issue and read the article Conflict transformation training making a difference in Asian communities.

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MPI Listed as a "key summer training program"

PCDN LogoWe were proud to learn that MPI was listed as one of the key summer training programs on the Peace and Collaborative Development Network website. See the posting here.

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