Fields of Hope

Fields of Hope

FIELDS OF HOPE: What is the guarantee? Who will guarantee? By Roberto C. Layson,...

[A paper presented during the roundtable discussion on “The Malaysian Pull-out from the International Monitoring Team (IMT): Implications and Responses” sponsored by the Institute for Autonomy and Governance held at Estosan Hotel, Cotabato City on May 6, 2008]

When I heard the news of the planned pull-out of the Malaysian contingent from the International Monitoring Team, the first question that came to my mind was, Why? Why will Malaysia, who is acting as third party facilitator to the GRP-MILF Peace Talks, do that? I may not entirely know the real reason why Malaysia is pulling out from the IMT but I surely know why a lot of civilians from conflict affected communities, including the Bantay Ceasefire volunteers, are deeply worried of this new development.

FIELDS OF HOPE: Fr. Rey. By Fr. Roberto C. Layson, OMI

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/19 Jan) -- I received many text messages from different people from different parts of the country regarding the death of Fr. Rey.  They contained mixed feelings. Some contained pure condolences.  Some contained pure condemnation. Some contained pure hatred.  Some contained combined condolences and anger.  Some contained combined condemnation and condolences.

FIELDS OF HOPE: Building Bridges of Peace with our Peace Officers. Roberto C. Layson,...

PIKIT, North Cotabato (MindaNews/28 Nov) -- The Mindanao Week of Peace celebration this year carries the theme: Building Bridges of Peace with our Peace Officers.  This is a leap of attitude. Normally, people distance themselves from engaging the military and police.  Either they are scared of them or they simply abhor them for the abuses committed by some of the men in uniform. I think it’s the same attitude the civilians have towards the rebels.  There are in fact some who look at the soldiers and rebels as detestable individuals who do not possess any human goodness.

FIELDS OF HOPE: They spoke the same language. By Roberto C. Layson, OMI

PIKIT, North Cotabato (MindaNews / Nov 23) --  I heard them all speak Maguindanawon. The cook. The driver. The kids who were washing dishes. They conversed with each other in Maguindanawon. I had just arrived then at the convent of St. Therese Parish in Datu Piang to give a seminar on Intra-Religious Dialogue to lay leaders.  Hearing them speak perfect Maguindanawon made me think initially that they were Muslims. To my surprise, I found out they were not Muslims. They were actually Christians.

FIELDS OF HOPE: Inter-religious dialogue and peace-building: story of the Chuch in Pikit

(A sharing presented during the International conference on Church Inter-religious Dialogue and  Peace-building sponsored by the Catholic Relief Services and KROC Institute held in Davao City on October 21-26, 2007)

A church caught in the midst of armed conflict

The Immaculate Conception Parish of Pikit is one of the oldest parishes in the Archdiocese of Cotabato.  Because of the Basic Ecclesial Communities or BECs, Christians have developed deep religiosity and a strong sense of community and responsibility towards fellow Christians. What was considered as the strength of the Church in Pikit, however, turned out also to be one of her weaknesses.

FIELDS OF HOPE: The Basilan Crisis: Search for Justice and Search for Peace

PIKIT, North Cotabato (MindaNews/01 August) -- I HAVE BEEN following closely the unfolding of events in Basilan primarily how the government and the MILF handle the fragile situation in relation to the Peace Process.

FIELDS OF HOPE: Religious Perspective on the Ceasefire Agreement and the Peace Process in...

(A sharing presented to Field Officers of the AFP and BIAF during a roundtable discussion sponsored by the International Monitoring [IMT] on June 9, 2007 at the Pacific Heights in Cotabato City)

"If you want peace, don't talk to your friends. Talk to your enemies." Indeed, seeing AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and BIAF (Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces) [of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front] officers gathered here in the same hall makes me believe that peace in Mindanao is, indeed, not entirely mipossible.

FIELDS OF HOPE: Feeding a hundred children not her own

PIKIT, North Cotabato (MindaNews/29 May) -- Jainab, one of my students before at the Notre Dame of Jolo College sent me a story that she wrote about Babuh Balma, a Tausug woman who is assisting Tabang Mindanao as a volunteer in their supplemental feeding program.

FIELDS OF HOPE: MalMar Irrigation Project Phase 2 (Cultural Sensitivity)

PIKIT, North Cotabato (MindaNews/25 February) -- After the Rajahmuda war in 1997 which displaced 30,000 civilians in the Liguasan Marsh, massive rehabilitation projects were implemented by the government. A local monitoring council was formed by the local government unit of Pikit. It was tasked to monitor the implementation of government projects in the conflict-affected communities.  Both Ustadz Piang and myself were in the council then.


PIKIT, North Cotabato (MindaNews/22 January) -- I answered my cell phone.  It was New Year and I thought it was a call from my niece or brother from abroad. But the moment I heard the familiar voice from the other end, I knew it was not from anyone of them.  It came from Normina.

FIELDS OF HOPE: Breaking the 3-year cycle of war

PIKIT, North Cotabato (MindaNews/21 January)-- The International Monitoring Team headed by Maj. Gen. Ishmael Khan hosted a thanksgiving party last December in Cotabato City.  Present were Brigadier General Edgardo Gurrea of the GRP ceasefire committee, Von Al Haq of the MILF ceasefire committee, Major General Pajarito of the 6th Infantry Division, other military and MILF personalities, local government officials, members of the media and civil society organizations.  They were familiar faces.