MY, MY MARAWI: Walk the talk, interfaith dialogue

MARAWI CITY (MindaNews/23 Sept) — Davao was full of visitors attending various government events such as Sulong Pilipinas where mayors from all over Mindanao and Visayas attended . I was on the other side of the SMX attending the Mindanao Interreligious Dialogue (IRD) Solidarity Conference at Mandaya Hotel organized by Catholic Relief Services in time for September Peace Month .

Back in Marawi, I still worry about the impact of the jailbreak of so-called ISIS youth. What is society doing so that their grievances are addressed? They are few but their disgruntlement cascades in violence that affects the innocent.

Upon my arrival from the airport just 30 minutes from Cagayan de Oro, we passed by Roxas Avenue where the blast occurred weeks ago. I asked the driver how the feeling is; still sad, he said, but the market is up and about again. Fellow Meranaos are here. Their lives depend on trade here, and for this I pray that peace will not be wracked anymore by any terror-maker.

Beside me was Aleem Adilao, a prominent Muslim voice of Davao, a UK priest who I met at my UK trip in the past who spoke so well in Tagalog and very inspirational personalities who dedicated their life to dialogue. Professor Hamid Barra shared anew on the value of respect and tolerance in Islam. Fr Bert Layson urged we go grassroots in dialogue work so that conflict can be redressed.

Host Jannah of Cagayan de Oro voiced firmly the aspirations of the youth to be heard. In our social media society which values celebrity as role models, indeed we need alternative role models in faith leaders. The successor generation too must be given their platform to be heard in faith discussions.

The message in the IRD conference confirmed the time-tested call to protect life at all costs. Archbishop Fernando Capalla chronicled the long history of interreligious dialogue in the Philippines, in Zamboanga. etc .

There was a strong discussion in my gender and IRD panel on the niqab wear because it was a heated issue in Davao where the concerned facially covered women are supposedly asked to show their faces. In my sharing on Gender IRD perspectives, I replied that faith is definitely a personal decision, we must learn to socialize than withdraw if we embrace our faith deeper.  This is one observation and concern of Zamboanga professor Alih Yacub. More engagements and platforms for Islam and democracy research must be presented by the religious leaders. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Samira A. Gutoc-Tomawis, Ll.B., is former assemblywoman, women sector, of the Regional Legislative Assembly, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; former director, Al-Amanah Islamic Bank, Inc.; former director, Marawi Resort Hotel, Inc. See her blog at