Peace, faith, and solidarity are larger than the COVID-19 pandemic.
Observing the minimum health protocols and social distancing, Pakigdait Inc.–United Religions Initiative through its Project PeaceConnect by The Asia Foundation (TAF) and in partnership with Center for Humanitarian Dialogue, VSO-Philippine, Nonviolent Peaceforce – Lanao Field Team, and the 2nd Mechanized infantry brigade Philippine army conducted its heartwarming traditional “Duyog Ramadan.“*
It was held for the first time in the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)’s North-Western Mindanao Front – Camp Bilal, Kurakura, Pangao, Munai in Lanao del Norte. It was joined by two bishops, priests, pastors, community, and leaders of civil society organizations.
Abdullah Goldiano “Commander Bravo“ Macapaar (image at left), a Front Commander and now also a Member of the Parliament of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), together with his field commanders, warmly welcomed Bishops Edwin A. De La Peña, MSP, D.D. (lead image) of the Prelature of St. Mary’s in Marawi City and Stephen L. Villaester of the Anglican Church.
The priests and pastor with them are Father Ramon Torres, Vicar General of the Prelature of Saint Mary’s of Marawi, Father Jualito Araña of Philippine Independent Church, and Pastor Ronnie Cagula of Vineyard Fellowship Church.
The community and civil society organizations leaders were led by Musa Mohamad Sanguila, Regional Coordinator of the United Religions Initiative of Southeast Asia and Pacific (URI-SEAPac), and Ustadz Abdulkarim Ambor of Municipal Interfaith Councils from six municipalities of Project PeaceConnect in Lanao del Norte.
In return, the visiting religious and CSO leaders gave MP Macapaar baskets of fruits and dates.
Pakigdait also donated facemasks, alcohol, and a body infrared thermometer temperature gun for the MILF entrance checkpoint.
Col. Charlemagne F. Batayola Jr., Deputy Brigade Commander of the 2nd Mechanized Brigade, Philippine Army delivered the message of solidarity of Brigade Commander Brigadier General Facundo O. Palafox IV.
With conflict and Covid-19, we dare to unite to bond differences between beliefs, cultures, and faiths to create a cohesive community that would mitigate the escalation of horizontal conflicts and the spread of the pandemic.
The interactive activity ended very cheerfully with friendship and the partaking of Meranao cuisine shared in the colorful table by all.
* Duyog in Bisaya for accompaniment. "Duyog Ramadan" means Ramadan Together.
Abelardo A. Moya is the Director PAKIGDAIT Inc. and former Program Manager for MPI's Resource-Based Conflict and Peacebuilding Training Program.