CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 9 May) – A book on peace building stories in various communities in Mindanao was launched Wednesday by the Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Inc. on the occasion of its 17th anniversary.
Written by Hazel Aspera, Froilan Gallardo, H. Marcos C. Mordeno and Bobby Timonera, “Peace Journeys” presents 14 stories of how local government units, communities, tribal folk and even military officials resolved cases of rido (clan war) and other conflict situations. Timonera and Mordeno edited the book. (Timonera, Mordeno and Gallardo work for MindaNews.)
Based on actual interviews and interactions with the protagonists and other stakeholders, Peace Journeys will take readers to places like war-torn Barangay Diatagon in Lianga, Surigao del Sur and Basilan province.
Most of the narratives deal with actual conflicts. But one story highlights initiatives by an Army officer and civil society groups in Maguindanao to come together and thresh out problems between them. Another one celebrates the heroism of soldiers during the tragedy caused by typhoon Sendong in this city.
“They may seem disconnected, happening in various places of Mindanao, but in the end, we see a connection in all these events, in all those little efforts to bring about peace,” according to Balay Mindanaw president Charlito Manlupig in the book’s introduction.
“With the stories told in this publication, we want to highlight that even in these violent areas, there is hope,” the introduction adds.
In his review, Mindanao historian Rudy B. Rodil said that as he read through each story, “I must admit, I was smiling through all of them.”
“Being familiar with conflicts in Mindanao-Sulu, from the arrival of the Spaniards, then colonization of the Americans, to the contemporary realities of the Republic of the Philippines, every happening of peace building is always a big event,” said Rodil, a former member of the government panel in peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
“Each story is unique by itself. I will only cite some. The Provincial Peace and Order Council of Misamis Oriental evolved a government local response to transform the once hotbed of armed revolution (Sitio Lantad) into a peace and developing community. Another illustration of local government evolving its own success experience are Alamada and Aleosan in Cotabato. Honestly, I wish we could have more local government units in the work of peace building. In the long run, we may not any more require negotiations abroad to solve our own local problems,” he added.
Edicio de la Torre, a member of Balay Mindanaw’s board of trustees, said the stories were written spontaneously.
A prominent Martial Law-era political detainee, De la Torre said he hopes to read one day a book on how former rebels have carved for themselves a role in peace building work.