Peace ambassadors reach out to kids in conflict area-A A +A
Monday, October 29, 2012
THERE will be music. There will be games and laughter. And though it won't be a feast, there will be enough food for sharing.
These are what the celebrity peace ambassadors will bring to the children and residents of a community in the town of Aleosan in North Cotabato today, as part of their personal immersion into the lives of internally-displaced Filipinos in Mindanao.
Actor Epy Quizon, singers Ebe Dancel and Datu Khomeini will join outreach activities which include a child feeding program, donation and giving away of footballs for the kids, as well as songs and games. The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Opapp) arranged the visit as part of the peace ambassadors' immersion phase.
Opapp spokesperson and director of communications Polly Cunanan said that the visit to Aleosan is part of a series of immersion activities involving its peace ambassadors.
"Even before they took their oath as peace ambassadors, several of these celebrities have expressed willingness to spread the message of hope and peace to different conflict-affected areas in Mindanao and other parts of the country," Cunanan said.
She said Opapp is also arranging succeeding immersion visits of other peace ambassadors in the coming weeks.
For residents of Aleosan, the visit of the peace ambassadors that comes in the wake of the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro is an eagerly-awaited event. Aleosan Mayor Loreto V. Cabaya said that they are happy to be receiving the peace ambassadors. "Their visit tells us that peace, that hope is in the air, that we are not forgotten."
The peace ambassadors themselves have expressed the same feeling of excitement as they worked with Opapp on the preparations for the visit.
"I look forward to sharing some of our time with the families affected by conflict. To be able to give them light moments to soothe their worries, even for just a little while, and help them feel hope. If I can make them smile and laugh, that is already such a huge blessing for me as a peace ambassador," said Epi Quizon, son of the well-loved comedy king, Dolphy.
Quizon said the immersion visit will help him understand the needs and challenges confronting internally-displaced persons or individuals and families directly affected by armed conflict.
"It is only by understanding the costs of war, that we, as peace ambassadors, can have the right and credibility in calling on everyone to give peace a chance," he said.
Khomeini on the other hand said that he is excited to share his own personal experiences and insights as a Moro artist with other peace ambassadors when they arrive in Mindanao.
"This is the first time that we will be traveling together as a group of peace ambassadors. I hope that our visit to Aleosan will inspire hope through songs, sports, and laughter," Khomeini added.
The Mindanaoan singer is also excited about the offer of US-based international star apl.de.ap to work on a song about peace which will be released to a worldwide audience. "I am so honored that I will be singing about peace with my fellow peace ambassador, apl.de.ap," Khomeini said.
Another performing artist, Ebe Dancel, recently composed and recorded a song titled “Iisa” which is about individuals searching for peace in their own lives.
"I dedicate this song to all Filipinos including those who have their own personal conflicts to overcome. I think we should all give peace a chance by forgiving each other's shortcomings and respecting each other's opinions," Dancel said.
"It's my take on the situation. And I really pray that no more lives are taken, no more homes are destroyed, no more dreams crushed by armed conflict," he added.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on October 29, 2012.