Jasser Palangalan, whose photograph became the cover of Professor Rudy Rodil’s book, “A Story of Mindanao and Sulu in Question and Answer,” has become a “symbol of national peace.”
This is why organizers of the forum, held to celebrate the 9th Mindanao Week Of Peace (MWOP), made sure the child would be given an award.
Fr. Romeo S. Saniel, OMI, president of NDMC, said Jasser had earlier received recognition from the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPPAP).
Rodil explained he found the photo of the child, who was only 3 when it was taken in 2003, while he was researching for a cover photo of his book.
He said it was the message of the photo that stuck him. In the photo, the smiling Jasser was holding a poster that says "We need peace in Mindanao" at a Bakwit Power rally in June 2003. Thousands of evacuees left their evacuation centers for the national highway along Pikit and Pagalungan, Maguindanao to urge the government to stop the military action that ultimately let to a ceasefire in July.
To be able to give the award to a child, a week-long search was done by the military who initially thought the child lived in Pikit. With the help of Fr. Bert Layson, the parish priest of Pikit, it was learned that the child is a resident of Dunguan, Datu Montawal.
The picture was initially thought to be taken by Fr. Roberto Layson but he said it was probably taken by a photojournalist covering the rally.
He added the picture has been attributed to him because he had been using it in his presentations and in some posters he had made.
Asma Maitog, Jasser’s mother, tearfully said she is grateful for the award her child received.
She said she the award was an unexpected gift because she did not know that her child was photographed during the rally. She said she did not know that her child was recognized by the OPPAP.
Along with a certificate, Jasser also received a cash gift and school supplies from the NDMC, Fr. Bert Layson, and Col. Dickson Hermoso of the 7 th IB.
Fr. Saniel said they will be discussing a scholarship that may be granted to Jasser who will be entering Grade 1 in the next school year. (MindaNews)