With both national and global calamities taking centre stage in only the first month of the new decade, Filipino youth peace advocates came together on January 25 in Quezon City for an inaugural peace-building conference to highlight the need for peace and unity to address large-scale problems.
The event, led by Arizza Nocum, the Extremely Together Leader from the Philippines, was dubbed the #IsangBayanPH Youth Peace-Building Conference. The event drew 100 young peace-builders aged 18-30 from different parts of Metro Manila to learn from experts in peace-building, practice critical skills needed in addressing conflict, and dialogue with other young leaders. In Filipino, “Isang Bayan” translates to “One Country”.
“In only the first weeks of the year, we’ve seen the eruption of Taal Volcano, the destructive Australian bushfires, escalations in the US-Iran conflict, and now cases of a new coronavirus. To address the consequences of these problems, we need to call for more ways to stand together not just as one nation but also hand-in-hand with other countries for problems of a global scale,” shared Arizza.
She added, “When we can’t bridge the gaps between Filipinos of different religions, political beliefs, cultures, and backgrounds when we continue to experience conflict among ourselves, how can we hope to stand against massive issues? The almost apocalyptic nature of 2020 so far is a stark reminder of how much we need peace and collaboration as a foundation against the problems we’ve seen.”
According to its convenors, the #IsangBayanPH conference aims to be a space for positive narratives for peace and harmony amid increasingly polarizing content fueled by social media, political propaganda, and hate speech.
“Young people are vulnerable to narratives – especially those being spread online – that encourage fear and hatred over empathy and understanding. This conference aims to defend against that by starting with an initial group of young peace-builders who can be influencers of peace in their own families, barkadas (peers), and communities,” Arizza explained.
“Young people are vulnerable to narratives – especially those being spread online – that encourage fear and hatred over empathy and understanding.”
During its inaugural conference on Saturday, participants interacted with experts led by Prof. Miriam Coronel Ferrer, the Chief Negotiator credited with brokering the historic peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Other speakers included Prof. Macrina Morados, Dean of the University of the Philippines – Diliman (UPD) Institute of Islamic Studies, Caroliza Tulod-Peteros, Senior Mediator for the Mediators Network for Sustainable Peace; Egypa Balindong, a Filipino Muslim youth leader, vlogger, and filmmaker; and Mark Jacinto, advocate for the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Attendees of #IsangBayanPH also participated in workshops to hone their skills on mediation and conflict resolution and brainstormed with fellow youth leaders on future peace initiatives.
“This is really the first step for #IsangBayanPH. We plan to have similar conferences in other areas to ensure that there will always be opportunities like this for young Filipino of diverse backgrounds to connect, to collaborate on projects that foster harmony, and to show a united stance despite our differences,” Arizza reiterated.
#IsangBayanPH is organized by KRIS Library, a non-profit organization focused on creating platforms – both offline and online – to promote peace education particularly among young people.
Read more about the event in the Manila Times >