ADVOCACY MindaNOW: "Our Mindanao" By Jess G. Dureza

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/03 January) — The strings of holidays over the last several weeks gave many of us some breathing space to do “other things” – not the usual routine. In my case, since I left government, I have done a lot of catching up on what I have missed doing – reading. I have a room almost full of unread books, magazines, etc. that I unknowingly accumulated. Over the years I received piles of books and reference materials from all sources. Every time I travel somewhere, my first instinct is look for the nearest bookstore. When I have time to spare waiting for flights, I always browse at the nearest magazine stand and grab interesting looking materials hoping to read them inflight. Of course I’d only get to finish a few pages. Then I’d toss the book at some shelf back home and forget all about it. Now, I have a pile to enjoy.

But here’s the latest addition to my mini library. “OUR MINDANAO” magazine came to my doorsteps during the holidays fresh off the press. It’s the inaugural issue of what promises to be a monthly magazine. I got several copies with a ribbon tied around them and a big marginal stamp pad print “complimentary copy” on the front page.  Editor in chief Ms. Carol Arguillas and the outfit Mindanao News and Information Cooperative Center came out with their December virgin issue with the cover theme “Let the TALKS begin”.  I suspect I got my complimentary copies because the issue carried my Publisher’s Notes item entitled “Let Us all Be Patient”.  Carol told me other magazines have price prints like “P100 in Metro Manila” etc.  ”OUR MINDANAO”  has a price print on the upper right ear of the front page saying “Php 60 in Mindanao” to emphasize that Mindanao is a premier reference area too.

Of course, you guessed it. The first issue is mostly all about the peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. MILF chief Al Haj Murad Ebrahim’s latest statement entitled “The Only Way is Forward” given during a forum with foreign correspondents in Camp Darapanan last August, 2010 is featured, among others. Then there’s the text of Philippine government panel chair Dean Marvic Leonen’s recent speech. Also carried is Fr. Albert Alejo’s synthesis of consultations and dialogues his group did all over Mindanao. Other eminent Mindanao advocates contributing in this issue are Patricio Diaz, Amina Rasul, Rody Rodil, Irene Santiago, Peter Kreuzer, Ayesah Abubakar, Soliman Santos, Jr. Camilo “Bong” Montesa, Patricio Abinales, Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Ferrer, Karl Gaspar, Zainudin Malang, Gail Ilagan, Jose Jowel Canuday, H. Marcos Mordeno Ruby Thursday More, Ting Tiongco, Froilan Gallardo, Joey Ayala. The list of authors looks like a “Mindanao Who’s Who”. Get in touch with

Then, during the holidays, I got another bunch of reading materials from the Act for Peace Programme, a peace development project which I managed for many years as national program director until my relinquishment last September. A4P is Philippine government – United Nations Development Program (UNDP) facility funded principally by the Australian government with support from a host of other countries like New Zealand and Spain.  It officially ends December 31, 2010 but efforts are underway to still get it going. We all know that work in Mindanao is not yet done.

The new publications are “Essence of Islamic Leadership and Governance”, a tool for personal and societal transformation; “Barangay Governance for Peace and Development” which highlights the primary and critical role of barangays in conflict areas in bringing about peace and development and a manual entitled “Conflict Sensitive Promoting Barangay Development Plan through Participatory Rural Appraisal”.

I had the privilege of overseeing the work done in these areas including the preparations of these publications which document some good practices and experiences in peacebuilding programs in Mindanao. Mindanao Development Authority may have copies to spare.

Happy New Year to all! ! (Lawyer Jesus G. Dureza was government peace panel chair in the negotiations with the MILF under the Arroyo administration from 2001 to 2003 and was later named Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (2005 to 2008). He heads Advocacy MindaNOW Foundation, Inc. and was recently named publisher of the Davao City-based Mindanao Times. This piece is from his syndicated column, Advocacy MindaNOW).