Mindanao photobook, interfaith book and history book launched Friday

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/7 July) – A photobook of Mindanao’s first decade in the new millennium. A book on the history of the travails of the Bangsamoro peace process. And a book on everyday stories of inter-religious dialogue and peace-building in Mindanao.

“Troubled Odyssey” by Patricio P. Diaz, “Fields of Hope: Stories of Inter-religious Dialogue and Peace-building” by Fr. Roberto C. Layson, OMI and “Mindanao into the 21st Century: A Photographic Journey” will be launched by the Mindanao News and Information Cooperative Center (MindaNews) on Friday, July 8 at the Mandaya Hotel, as part its 10th anniversary celebration.

In his preview, Diaz wrote: “‘Odyssey,’ the word is adopted from Odyssey, the Greek epic of Homer. Odyssey is a myth, Troubled Odyssey is history. Like Odysseus’ wanderings to find his way back to his kingdom, the Moros’ quest for their ancestral domain – the core of the Mindanao Bangsamoro Problem – has been beset by a host of troubles. Odysseus’ troubles were mythical interventions; those of the Moros are historical iniquities and ironies.”

“Like Odysseus who had Ithaca, his island kingdom, in sight when a storm turned him back to wander for seven more years, the MILF had their ancestral domain within grasp when anti-Moro elements drove it back. When will the MILF see port again and anchor safely – if not the present MILF, its successor in the next Moro generations?” Diaz asks.

Historian and peace advocate Rudy Buhay Rodil who wrote the foreword, said: “You want to help solve the Moro conflict? My answer will always be, read Pat Diaz. It’s not a special bias. He was my English teacher in high school, he was my Literature professor in college, he was my faculty adviser in the college school organ. But I can be objective. In my 38 years of monitoring and researching and writing about the same problem, I needed to review printed literature on the subject and his writings always strike me as very informative: detailed yet comprehensive, complex yet clear, simplified and analytical. He dissects every vital issue, no stone is left unturned. I have never regretted reading him.”

In “Fields of Hope,” Fr. Bert writes: “In the countryside, story-telling is the medium of communication. You are most likely to be understood by your audience if you use stories to convey your message. I found out it is also true even in the metropolis. Indeed, story-telling is a powerful way of sending a message. It’s based on human experience which makes it easy for your audience to relate. It’s a particular experience but carries a universal message.”

Layson, who spent his first 20 years – 1988 to 2008 – as priest in predominantly Muslim towns, said, “Some of these stories I had written when I was assigned in Tawi-Tawi and Jolo. But most of the stories in this book are experiences in Pikit (North Cotabato) where I stayed for 10 years as coordinator of the Inter-religious Dialogue Ministry of my congregation and the Archdiocese of Cotabato.”

He said he decided to publish the stories “after spending time reflecting, writing, re-writing and editing them during my sabbatical year (June 2008 to May 2009). Just like my first book, ‘In War, the Real Enemy is War Itself,’ this book is supposed to be part of our advocacy campaign. But unlike the previous one that simply took into account the images of war, this one, I pray, will bring hope. The stories contained in this book have one message: that interreligious dialogue and peace-building are not entirely impossible.”

In his introduction, photobook editor Bobby Timonera said the book is divided into two major parts: the major news events of the first decade of the 21st century, and life in Mindanao by geographic location.

“The photographs in this book offer a ringside view of Mindanao through the lens of MindaNews photographers. We share our awe at finding majestic waterfalls in areas where Mindanao still has lush forests. Grieve with us at the sight of her once stately mountains now ravaged by mining. Stand with us as we accompany Mindanawons not only in fleeing the war or burying the dead, but also in celebrating a Lumad wedding and triumphantly conquering the surging waves,” Timonera wrote.

The book contains photographs of MindaNews journalists and contributors Keith Bacongco, Jowel Canuday, Romy Elusfa, Froilan Gallardo, Gluce Jayma, Vic Kintanar, Toto Lozano, Gene Boyd R. Lumawag, Rene B. Lumawag, Skippy Lumawag, BJ Patiño, Ruby Thursday More, Charlie Saceda, Bong Sarmiento and Bobby Timonera.

Selected photos from the book will be featured in an exhibit in key Mindanao schools and malls.

The publication of the books is with the assistance of the Australian Aid for International Development.

Venue of the book launch at 4 p.m. is Kanato Hall, Royal Mandaya Hotel. (MindaNews)