Mindanao Week of Peace: Peace Walk “Peace is Coming Home through Harmony and Solidarity”
Hello, my name is Avon Camille Llanes Colobong and I am the National Coordinator of IPYG Philippines Branch.
On September 9th, 2023, IPYG Philippines Branch held an ‘Inter-religious Youth Peace Camp’ in the Mindanao region of the Philippines, collaborating with 13 local youth organizations. The peace camp has been designed to foster inter-religious understanding and prevent radical extremism through dialogue..
It was such a meaningful event where approximately 100 young adults from religious organizations, universities, NGOs, and even Filipino soldiers attended in hopes of commemorating peace and fostering collaboration in Mindanao, an area that has experienced much pain due to inter-religious conflicts. The event emphasized the idea of ‘youth taking the lead for peace’ and resonating with this, the youth organizations not only joined IPYG but also committed to collaborating as members of the Youth Engagement & Peacebuilding Working Group (YEPW). Since they have gathered together through HWPL, they promised to cultivate peace in Mindanao, aspiring to leave behind a valuable legacy of peace for future generations.
The commitment made by the youth from the 13 organizations under YEPW was soon put into action. On December 2nd, 2023, a peace walk with the theme of ‘Peace Returns Home through Harmony and Solidarity’ took place in Mindanao with over 300 citizens. The 6th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, in particular, conveyed their desire for all soldiers to love and participate in the work for peace, offering the site of their past military operations as the location for the peace walk.
In fact, the gathering of many citizens and youths in Mindanao to organize a peace event might seem unreal. This event once again proved that Mindanao’s youths can walk the streets safely without fear of gunfire or terror, marking a crucial moment in announcing the establishment of peace in Mindanao. Witnessing every step of these long-dreamt actions turning into reality has been truly moving.
These remarkable events have not only touched my heart but also have been positively transforming the hearts of many Filipino youths. The youth organizations participating in Mindanao’s YEPW are voluntarily becoming a community of young people dedicated to preserving peace in the region, actively planning peace initiatives. This working group, centered around the Kutawato Greenland Initiatives Inc. (KGI), engaged in environmental, human rights, and educational projects within the region, is planning regular activities such as a youth peace basketball tournament to promote peace culture.
As a result of the actions of Chairman Man Hee Lee, the representative of HWPL, complete peace has now come to Mindanao where endless dreadful conflicts and sacrifices once seemed to continue forever. The youths who used to point guns at each other in the midst of war now aspire to nurture peace and collaborate for the development of the local community.
The IPYG branch in the Philippines will continue to expand consistent and diverse initiatives to become a beacon of hope for peace realization in areas suffering from wars. We aim to enable more young people to participate in IPYG peace activities. Your continued support and interest would be greatly appreciated.