DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 22 Nov) — The Ateneo de Davao University will confer on former hostage Fr. Teresito “Chito” Soganub the Archbishop Clovis Thibault Award during the Commencement Exercises in April next year.
The Board of Trustees of the ADDU said the 58-year old Soganub, Vicariate-General of the Prelature of Marawi and long-time chaplain of Catholics at the Mindanao State University before he was held hostage by the Maute Group from Day 1 of the Marawi Siege on May 23, 2017 until his escape on September 17, 2017, is being recognized for his “commitment to inter-religious dialogue and Christian witnessing of the Gospel and Cross in Mindanao.”
“The university also recognizes the generosity of spirit and the bigness of heart that mark his works, apostolates, and ministries, tirelessly advancing and promoting the inter-religious vision of the Bishops-Ulama Conference, Maradeca, Kalimudan, Pakigdait, and the Ranao Muslim-Christian Dialogue Movement for Development and Peace,” the Board of Trustees said.
It added that through Soganub’s life and works, “he has actualized a spirituality of dialogue and a reconciling presence among Muslims through a dialogue of life and faith.”
Soganub said he is grateful for the award named in honor of the first Bishop and Archbishop of Davao.
“I want to give my thoughtfulness for the God of Peace, the God of All Mindanawons for making me an instrument of Inter-Religious Dialogue and for assisting me, His ambassador for re-creating a peaceful homeland Mindanao, in popularizing peace through the path of Peace as laid down by Our Lord Jesus,” he told MindaNews in a text message Wednesday.
He thanked ADDU Prof. Hadji Balajadia for nominating him and the ADDU for giving him the award. “My name, my person, and my vocation’s mission will be raised into the level of honored celebrities in the field of religious and humane services, to be in the entire world. In such a way there will be implication that me and ADDU are partners in the philosophy and religious belief that peace can be achieved by means of a peaceful inter religious dialogue here in Mindanao, Philippines, and the whole world.”
Soganub, who was born in Cotabato City but raised in Norala, South Cotabato, has repeatedly said his captivity in Marawi by the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group and its allies from May 23 to September 16, 2017 “deepened my faith, made me more prayerful.”
“The martyr of dialogue today” was how Davao City’s Archbishop Emeritus Fernando Capalla described Soganub at the 16th Mindanao Sulu Pastoral Conference here on October 18 last year.
It was Capalla, then Bishop of Iligan and Administrator of the Prelature of Marawi, who sent the then 27-year old Soganub back to the seminary in 1988, with inter-religious dialogue in Marawi, the country’s lone Islamic city, as his future assignment.
Soganub would stay in Marawi, the country’s lone Islamic city and the only area he had been assigned to in his 23 years as priest — until he escaped from the Maute Group in September last year. Since he regained freedom, he has gone on a journey of healing, sharing his experiences as hostage, as well as promoting interfaith dialogues.
The ADDU Board said Soganub’s life “is a testament to every Mindanawon’s relentless desire to bridge inequities, respect diversities and acknowledge differences.”
Since 1994, Soganub has been a member of the Ranao Muslim-Christian Dialogue Movement for Development and Peace, an organization for inter-religious dialogue composed of youth, professionals, academicians, and religious leaders of both Christians and Muslims. In 2008, he became a founding member of the Inter-faith Council of the Iligan City-based NGO known as Pakigdait, Incorporated, an inter-faith network working for inter-religious dialogues of communities in the Lanao area. Pakigdait is an interfaith group whose mission is to “enhance individuals, groups and communities’ capacity to transform conflict towards constructive change.”
In April this year, Soganub was elected chair of the Pakigdait Board of Directors.
The ADDU Board also chose two other awardees: the Tambayan Center for Children’s Rights for the Drs. Jess and Trining dela Paz Award and Juan Sajid Imao for the Fr. Theodore Daigler Award for Mindanao Culture and Arts.
Tambayan Center is being recognized for its work on “reducing child rights violations in the family and for improving community environments to be conducive for children’s development.”
“By the different works they have initiated through the years, the Center embodies ‘the new commandment of love,’ showing by their works how love in the only force (I Cor 12:31-14:1) that can lead to personal and social perfection, guiding the young children of Davao and our society, toward the good,” the Board said.
Imao is being recognized for his “more than 20 years contribution to the development of Philippine arts particularly in the field of sculpture and public art as seen in his monuments, landmark sculptures found all over the country, and the brass works found in our very own Our Lady of the Assumption Chapel.”
The Board said that his iconic figures in both realistic and stylized forms, using different media such as brass, bronze, resin fiber glass, and stone, all speak of his ardent determination to show to the world the Filipino spirit, and his Mindanawon roots.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)