MY SECOND weekend this year was a quality time spent with the young leaders of Mindanao for the Salaam Corps Youth Camp held at Eden Nature Park and Resort last January 10 to 12, 2020.
These young leaders came from different religious backgrounds, ethnic affiliations and geographic locations of Region 9 (Davao), 10 (Northern Mindanao), 12 (Soccsksargen), Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Barmm) and Caraga.
With the support of GIZ CPS, the Salaam Movement, the Al Qalam Institute (AQI) of Ateneo de Davao University and my office in the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, the said camp was attended by more than 40 youth leaders who were selected to be members of the Salaam Corps -- the volunteer program of the Salaam Movement -- and be labeled as Peace Champions.
The event was a second gathering of the corps following their Salaam Corps Convergence last October 2019. This time, it was conducted to further capacitate the Peace Champions, strengthen the relationship among the members as well as develop the program’s vision, values and action plans for 2020.
We started to plan out this activity six months ago. We have the draft concept note for this for a few years now and it was always something that we wanted to do, but we were missing a few elements in order to see it through to fruition.
We knew that we wanted to provide a space for the youth to talk about issues that matters most to them. But with a Mindanao as vast and as diverse as ours, we must ask ourselves: what is Mindanao? And how do we create a fruitful vision that reflects who and what we are?
In engaging the Peace Champions, I told them that the desire of addressing the Moro problem has been there as early as 1905, during the American occupation. And until now, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) and Barmm are government concrete ways of addressing the century old problem.
I asked them, do you know how many generations were involved and sacrificed just to build a lasting peace in Mindanao? Most of them have the basic information of the Bangsamoro peace process, and they have been working on peace building programs for quite some time.
As the young leaders of Mindanao today, I told them that the Salaam Corps’ bedrock principles are commitment and responsibility.
Commitment -- it is a promise, not just to ourselves, but to our people. It is reflected in how we agreed to come together and learn from each other, and in the bonds we have formed since our first engagement in October 2019.
We need commitment in our stand of the current issues and advocacies we are facing today, because it is only when we are committed that we can even start to make meaningful change.
Responsibility -- this is what we call commitment in action. When we commit, we are also taking on a sense of ownership for the task at hand.
This is one of the key factors of Al Qalam and Salaam Movement’s success.
We have a team that were able to give so much responsibility because of the commitment we all have made to ourselves, to our principles and advocacies. And we want to impart this to the Salaam Corps and their communities.
I was glad to have given my time and energy to the Salaam Corps Youth Camp. It was a good start for the year to review our unified vision for Mindanao. I look forward of working with our Peace Champions within this year and beyond.