The Strongest Foundation in Achieving World Peace: Institutionalization of HWPL Peace Education in the Philippines

Greetings of peace. I am John Rommel Garces, the Chief Branch Manager of HWPL in the Philippines. In line with the title of ‘The Strongest Foundation in Achieving World Peace: Institutionalization of HWPL Peace Education in the Philippines’, we would like to share the example of how peace education is being adopted in the Philippines.

In June 2013, Chairman Lee Man-hee conducted his first visit to the Philippines. He received advice to extend HWPL’s works of peace in Mindanao, the most conflicted region in the Philippines. 6 months later, Chairman Lee led the Mindanao Peace Agreement represented by Archbishop Fernando Capalla and Hon. Esmael Mangudadatu. This signified the beginning of the work of HWPL in the Philippines.

This eventually led to the establishment of the 1st HWPL peace monument in the Philippines. Chairman Lee says, “Peace is planted in each person’s heart through this peace monument. Therefore, the establishment of the peace monument is also part of peace education.” 24 January was proclaimed as HWPL Peace Day in the Province of Maguindanao in honor of the Mindanao Peace Agreement.

The engagements of HWPL in Mindanao quickly spread out, reaching even the leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), an Islamic group in Mindanao region that fought for self-determination for over 40 years. Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim, motivated by the HWPL peace movement, then established the 2nd peace monument in Camp Darapanan of the MILF and declared 24 January as HWPL Peace Day.

Meanwhile, another unprecedented peace movement was launched by HWPL when the 10 articles and 38 clauses of DPCW were proclaimed in the Republic of Korea. Through this, the concept of Article 10 Spreading the Culture of Peace through peace education was intensified. Moving forward, through the Cotabato State University, which is under CHED, Dr. Ronald Adamat was invited to join the 3rd WARP Summit, and from then on, he decided to work together with HWPL.

By January 2018, HWPL and CHED signed an MOA during the 26th World Peace Tour of Chairman Lee. This has become a huge step in institutionalizing peace education in the Philippines. This led to the release of the CHED Memorandum Order No. 1 series of 2019, an order mandating all higher educational institutions to integrate peace education in their respective curricula.

 

Dr. Ronald Adamat, Commissioner of Commission on Higher Education (CHED)

“In 2019 I initiated in CHED the issuance of CMO No. 1. This particular CMO mandated all higher educational institutions in the country to introduce to our students the relevance and significance of peace in relation to nation-building, development, and international relations. I wanted that every Filipino student would renounce war and work for the cessation of hostilities as espoused by HWPL.”

 

Efforts to reach out to the basic education through the DepEd started in Cotabato City, Mindanao, in the 4th quarter of 2019. Pilot testing and contextualization, the most important part of the integration process of HWPL peace education into the education system, were first conducted through the cooperation of the DepEd Schools Division of Cotabato City. And on Feb 6, 2020, an MOA was signed between HWPL and DepEd Cotabato City.

While gaining this great momentum for peace education, the pandemic strikes the whole world. This was the most difficult moment. But instead of slowing down, we doubled the efforts and made the work faster.

HWPL Peace Education Philippines launched the Voice of Peace (VOP), a platform for volunteer teachers to be trained and exercise their profession, catering to the greatly affected students who were forced to stay home due to the pandemic. From 30 July 2020 to 6 February 2021, the Voice of Peace produced 52 students empowered with 12 education lessons that were taught by 19 volunteer teachers.

Because of the positive response of the education sector as well as the students, HWPL intensified the training of teachers, raising them to be peace educators to cater to more students. From January 2021 to the present, HWPL Philippines hosted ten training programs and trained 2,079 teachers who became peace educators. Through them, 36 schools are now implementing peace education in their curriculum which covers about 23,000 students.

These sincere efforts bore fruits in the heart of the Filipinos and were acknowledged by the DepEd, eventually leading to more partnerships HWPL was introduced to the national office of DepEd and received support in implementing peace education initiatives in basic education.

 

Dr. Maritez Ibañez, Superintendent, DepEd Division of Laguna

“As an important tool in promoting peace education, we have also piloted peace education in Pila District through HWPL, emphasizing the integration of peace, non-violence, conflict resolution, social justice, economic well-being, practical participation, and environmental concerns.”

 

Dr. Diosdado M. San Antonio, Undersecretary of Curriculum and Instruction Department of Education

“The Department of Education is definitely supportive of efforts to ensure that the learners become peace-loving Filipinos. Definitely, we have partners in the division offices, schools especially, and even from the private schools working with your team in making sure that peace education collaborations are effectively implemented.”

 

Moreover, HWPL was invited to be part of the national working group, including CHED Regional Directors, to implement peace education to all colleges and universities in the Philippines as stipulated in CHED Memorandum Order No. 1 series of 2019.

Philippines is comprised of 17 Regions. So far, we have an MOU with Region 2 and Region 10, a total of 65 partner colleges and universities. We are targeting to reach out to all the 17 regions in 2022. Moreover, Dr. Adamat, the Champion of Peace Education, initiated another great move as he convinced CHED to propose January 24 as National Peace Day. If approved, all the colleges and universities in the 17 regions of the Philippines will celebrate this Peace Day.

 

Dr. Ronald Adamat, Commissioner of Commission on Higher Education (CHED)

“In 2021, I convinced CHED to call on President Rodrigo Duterte, to declare 24 January a regular holiday, being National Peace Day. The CHED Commission En Banc issued an endorsement to President Duterte, urging him to declare 24 January as National Peace Day that will provide for simultaneous celebration and observance of peace through peace activities, events, and ceremonies by all instrumentalities and in agencies of government, including the private sector.”

 

Every peace monument has its own story. The 3rd peace monument in Cotabato City was erected inside the Christian and Muslim community, and they melted the weapon as a strong symbol of community transformation from war to peace. The 4th peace monument in Brgy Foz, Ilocos Norte, was erected through the volunteering teacher of peace education that touches the hearts of the students, eventually to their parents, and to the whole community.

The entire community contributed according to their capacity, and so, they have established the peace monument. Lastly, the 5th peace monument in Siniloan Integrated National High School is the first peace monument inside the school campus. The government and private sector, as well as the teachers, worked together to establish the monument that will inspire and transform the students from generation to generation.

 

Abdul Karim Mangilay, Former Combatant of MILF

Mindanao used to be a chaotic place. I’m so happy to see the peace monument at Camp Darapanan. Now I am donating this gun of mine for the sake of peace in this place. The people in my organization are delighted to see this peaceful landmark established here in our area

 

The DPCW Article 10 Spreading the Culture of Peace has paved the way for peace education to reach the hearts of every learner. Therefore, we envision every school, college, university all across the globe, starting in the Philippines, will nurture the students and embed Peace Education in their hearts and minds. Eventually, the leaders of the next generation will rise up and will lead the world with peace and love.

I myself witnessed how Mindanao has changed. I once asked a child living in Mindanao, “What is peace for you?” He answered, “Peace is the gun because it gives us protection.” Even for Filipinos, we are hesitant to go to Mindanao because of the image of wars and conflicts.

But I saw how Chairman Lee carried out his peace works in Mindanao without hesitation, and I myself have been changed. Now we can tell a different story. We may confidently say the new definition of peace: Peace is Education. Peace is DPCW.

Everyone, join me in declaring, WE ARE ONE!