. . . In a local barrio elementary school last night, I noticed that people are different: wearing clothes of various ethnic origin. They all look like Filipino to me but somehow different in the way they talk, move and in some physical features.
With what is happening in Mumbai, India as well as the political turbulence in Bangkok, Thailand plus the neverending war in Iraq, it seems peace is a far fetched dream of mankind. Locally, there is the unresolved war in Mindanao between the government army and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. No one wins in war. Adverse impact include displacement of locales, hunger, injuries and even death.
And suddenly a small piece of experience... that moved me.
I went to Pinagbayanan Elementary School to watch and pick up my son who will be performing that night as a member of their school's Folk Dancers. I know there is some sort of a program but I am not exactly aware what the occasion was all about.
The program held in our province is just their second time of having a "National Youth Camp For Peace". Attended by youths of various ethnic groups from as far as Mindanao of Southern Philippines to Northern Luzon. It was held for almost a week with the send off party being held that night. The objective of the encampment was to inculcate to the youth the importance of peace - traversing religion, beliefs, location and cultural differences. As I understood, religion was one of the focal points of the events - focusing on what was common good or they called "pearl" in every religion. The pearl that will serve as seeds of peace that will be planted into the hearts and minds of the youth and thereby share to others.
I never realized that picking up my son will be worthwhile. The stage reflects serenity and was further explained by one teen delegates.
It is the first time I attended a program wherein the opening prayer is done - first the Christian way and then the Moslem way.
I listened. And I prayed. I just used my heart when the Moslems were praying.
It was so peaceful. The harmony floating in the air.
The program that night included presentation of Filipino folk dances from various schools of our town as well as traditional and ethnic songs performed by the delegates themselves.
I saw how the children of different background interacted with each other. Some of them discussed in front of the audience what they have learned and how they were moved by the program - being together for almost a week. Some are really youthful and dreams full of hope and aspirations.
Generally, their dreams are just as simple as to live together as they were given the opportunity to share their experiences, ideas and insights from within the participants belonging to different ethnic groups and religion.
I listened to their versions and understanding of peace. Their roles in promoting it. And their plans of sharing peace to others.
I felt the honesty and commitment of the children, delegates, participants and volunteers of the Peace Camp.
My admiration and congratulations to the organizers of the camp for peace. One small step of planting the seed of peace in the young minds of Philippine future. Hats off to them!