“Reconciliation within Humanity: Peacebuilding Journey of the Peoples of Mindanao, Philippines”
August 4-22, 2019
Ateneo de Davao University
The Service Learning Program (SLP) is a student learning-based program of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities in Asia Pacific (AJCU-AP). This program gathers students and mentors from member schools and Jesuit network for an 18-day interactive workshop to engage the students and to allow them to learn contemporary social and cultural issues that affect local and international communities. It is viewed to influence the student-participants in initiating and mobilizing concrete efforts to respond proactively the various concerns present in their home countries and communities as a fruit of their encounter and reflections during the entire duration of the program. It is hoped to reinforce their ongoing Ignatian brand of formative education towards becoming men-and-women-for-others. Moreover, it is an experience of international and multicultural camaraderie and fellowship that seeks to foster a positive and fraternal team spirit that encourages solidarity and goodwill for common endeavors.
The interactive activities which include immersion, fora, workshops and cultural activities will allow the participants to learn the riches of culture, tradition and uniqueness of a local community as well as understand the struggles and challenges confronting the host locality. Likewise, part of the process is to instill the value of service which will be expressed through a common legacy project that will manifest their response to the learning process.
This year, the Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU), as the host university, will focus on the theme “Reconciliation within Humanity: Peacebuilding Journey of the Peoples of Mindanao.” This theme is a response on the recently concluded 36th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, which seeks to have a “renewed fervor for reconciliation with God, humanity, and creation (GC 36: Promulgation of Decrees).”
In Decree 1 entitled “Companions in a Mission of Reconciliation and Justice”, the General Congregation (GC 36) recognizes the core of its mission of knowing and following God’s will “while gazing upon the world that has been groaning in labors pains until now.” GC 36 particularly highlighted the faces and images that challenges of the world today: people humiliated, violence, social exclusion, and continued marginalization. Though hopeful, GC 36 also recognizes that the reality of anger and fear is present in the midst of damage human being have wrought in ages.
The Decree highlights the call of reconciliation within humanity especially with the various forms of suffering consistent in different regions in the world, as witnessed by the Jesuits:
- Displacement of peoples like refugees, migrants, and internally displaced peoples
(GC 35, Decree 1, p.26)
- Injustices and inequalities experienced by marginalized peoples especially the
indigenous people and communities (GC 36, Decree 1, p.27)
- Fundamentalisms, intolerance, and ethnic-religious-political conflict as a source of violence (GC 36, Decree 1, p.28)
Having confronted with all of these challenges, GC 36 is exhorting to hear anew the call of Christ towards the ministry of justice and peace, service to the poor and the excluded, and help build peace and healing.
It is also timely, that AdDU will host the program in the locality of Davao City. The city is a crossroad of hope and change. Located in the island of Mindanao, it is both a witness and participant to Mindanao peacebuilding efforts with its people: the migrant settlers, and the Indigenous People (Islamic and non-Islamic IPs). Marred by years of violent armed conflict motivated by ethnic, religious, and political struggles, Mindanao has endured extreme violence that claimed many lives and displaced hundreds of its people.
Peace seemed to be very elusive as this conflict finds its roots in the very fabric of our history. Our colonial past triggered the radicalization of the Islamic Moros in Mindanao, and the government’s efforts to stabilize this conflict caused more chaos than peace (Agence France-Presse, 2014). The Indigenous Peoples lost the richness of their ethnic and tribal ancestry due to violent land disputes (Molintas, 2015). The Christian Filipinos who migrated to Mindanao became both victims and aggressors, thus aggravating the situation (Oliveros, 2002).
The years of conflict and war left deep scars and casted darkness among the peoples of Mindanao or commonly called as Mindanaons, yet as people bonded by our common ancestry, we never despaired and succumbed to terror. Various individuals and groups emerged who committed themselves to work and establish sustainable multi-sectoral peace agenda. Mindanaons, including the people of Davao (often called Dabawenyos), are continuously working towards a more engaging, inclusive, non-discriminatory, and culturally sensible efforts towards healing and reconciliation (Torrevillas, 2003).
With AdDU as its host, it aims to highlight these characteristics and initiatives by immersing participants, and providing avenues to interact, engage, and learn through immersion from various stakeholders both in public and private agencies in an artistic and creative expressions through visual arts, dance, music, and storytelling. The interaction and dialogue will hopefully allow the participants a greater grasp of the various issues as well as relate these issues to the broader global realities that they have encountered.
At the end of the program, the participants are:
- Informed about the various cultural, economic, social and political factors and processes that form the unique story of Davao as a development in progress, highlighting its initiatives and roles towards sustainable peace building efforts among the peoples of Mindanao.
- Initiated through encounters and meetings with stakeholders and prime movers of change in peace and reconciliation advocacy and allow them to observe their work in their respective areas of concern.
- Provided with an immersive interaction with civil society, NGO and cultural community that will deepen their appreciation and understanding of “agency for change” in the context of peace and reconciliation.
- Involved in reflective and discerning exercises and discussion through guided recollection or reflection session.
- Engaged in collective volunteer work, project and /or action of solidarity in targeted communities.
- Resolved in developing a collective peace building action which they will implement in their respective countries and communities.
- Celebrated the spirit of fellowship through a specially designed cultural program.
- Reflected on and process learning outcomes through a Post Program Session/Activity
Program Outputs and Outcome
The outputs of the program are:
- The participants learn the social, cultural, economic, political significance of Davao City as a development and cultural empowering center of Mindanao and most significantly as a model for reconciliation and peace efforts among the tri-people.
- The participants meet, interact and appreciate the work of people and groups who/that are working on peace and reconciliation initiatives both in private and public sectors.
- The participants are able to develop and design a peace building initiative that will be implemented in their respective countries and communities.
- The participants celebrate their fellowship and familiarity of each other.
The intended outcome of the program is to form a collaborative, cooperating multicultural and Asia –focused fellowship of student-leaders who will be involved in ongoing change and development of their respective locales guided and inspired by the Ignatian values and Jesuit mission and motivated with a sense of responsibility and accountability. This can be further facilitated through a specially designed Post Program Interactive Design that can be implemented when participants go back to their respective institutions and communities.