Promoting Dialogue and Peace in Mindanao through Madaris Gurus and Catechists

Circa 2013 at Xavier High School, Mabuhay, Zamboanga Sibugay

The new conflict in Mindanao that started last May 23 in Marawi    is becoming one of the most challenging problems in the recent history of the Philippines. The high number of victims, the destruction of the city, the people who have been forced to leave their houses, the martial law, the   fear and hatred among groups and clans and the increasing religious radicalism with violence   urge all of us to move with more courage and creativity.

Why so much violence and what will be the future of Mindanao with all the negative signs of today and  what to do to dream again the future peace in Mindanao?”

 

Circa 2013 at Xavier High School, Mabuhay, Zamboanga Sibugay

These questions have challenged the Silsilah Dialogue Movement to do more in many ways in the past and now especially through the program called: “ Madaris Gurus and Catechists.
In the past years many teachers of Madaris (plural of Madrasa) and the catechists of Zamboanga, Basilan, Jolo, Davao and other places have benefited by this program of Silsilah. This is a special training to gather together madaris gurus and catechists of a certain area, by groups, inviting them to live together for a few days to build respect, trust, friendship and   teach them the concept of Christian-Muslim dialogue. Guided by this spirit they are invited to teach parts of their lesson in the spirit of dialogue.

To achieve this goal they will be guided to learn more about the Culture of Dialogue, Path to Peace.  For us this is a spirituality that has to be first  experienced on the personal level  to be effective on the social level. Thus, we teach  the participants dialogue  with God, with the self, with others and with creation according to to his own religion.  This includes also dialogue  in  families, communities, in the same religion and  in all aspects of life. For this reason we usually  include in the  teaching of the Culture of Dialogue the concept of personal and social transformation and what normally is presented as intra and inter religious dialogue.

Circa 2013 at Xavier High School, Mabuhay, Zamboanga Sibugay

Our experience is that after these trainings   most of the participants  start to  be more dialogical among  themselves, not only in school, but also in  society. A touching experience among the many is what  the madaris gurus of Jolo shared with us on one occasion.  Jolo is a land of conflict  and the presence of the Christians is   less than  5%. Many Christians  have left  especially in recent years for the many acts of violence and kidnappings where  the victims are especially Christians.  The  positive  story is that  after the  training in Silsilah the  madaris gurus and the catechists  start to become friends and  when they meet in the market area or other places they smile and greet each other. This is  also the experience of other  participants in other areas and this can be considered  positive stories  and  signs of hope.

The  conflict in Marawi has opened    the eyes of many to a reality that in the past military and other leaders used to deny.  It is already  open news for all and the sad experience of  the increasing  conflict  justified by an increasing  intolerance of the part of  the more  radical  groups. They now do not only go against the Christians, but also against  Muslims  who are not like them and with the same orientation.  Some of the Muslims   are considered “ Kafir” ( infidel) by those who claim to be Muslims  but not of the same orientation .

Circa 2013 at Xavier High School, Mabuhay, Zamboanga Sibugay

This  reality  can not be denied any more. All now know  about the ISIS/Maute group present in Mindanao and other groups who are not so  well known yet, but are  also dangerous.
In addition to this  training, Silsilah  will also intensify other programs especially  in schools in  collaboration  with   youth leaders and groups willing to share the spirit of dialogue and peace that Silsilah promotes. This  plan will start from Zamboanga and will reach  many others, especially in all the areas where Silsilah is present  with groups called SILSILAH FORUM.  At present  the active  Silsilah Forum areas are in Tawi-Tawi, Siasi, Jolo, Basilan, Sibugay, Pagadian,  Cotabato, Kidapawan, Davao, Manila, Antipolo and other places where the groups are at the first stage of growth.

It is our desire and hope to  identify among the madaris gurus and catechists those who  are willing to join  Silsilah to  share this experience  and become  Instruments of dialogue and peace in our society.

 

Circa 2013 at Xavier High School, Mabuhay, Zamboanga Sibugay

We can not deny that  we continue our mission  with  sadness considering that  in spite of our  efforts and the efforts of many others  for dialogue and peace in Mindanao   there are  still many  victims of  violence. There are those who get discouraged  but for us who have   experienced in the past  also  the pain of  other friends who have been killed in their mission of dialogue and peace, we  are  renewed by God’s presence and the  spirit of  Padayon ( move on) and continue to  move and encourage all  to continue to   dream  for a future real and sincere  peace in Mindanao.

 

 

(This article is courtesy of Silsilah Dialogue Movement. Thank you Silsilah for faithfully sending me newsletters about our interfaith movement. – Fr. Felmar Castrodes Fiel, SVD)

 

Advertisements

CBCP Statement on Marawi, Terrorism and Dialogue

Text and Photo Credit: CBCP News

“Turn from Evil and Do Good,
Seek Peace and Pursue It” (Ps. 34:14)

 

TO ALL PEOPLE OF GOOD WILL:

 

Greetings of peace in the Almighty and Most Merciful God.

 

We, the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines, wish to enjoin your assistance and collaboration. We all cry from our hearts: War in Marawi, never again! War in Marawi, no more! We therefore call for the return to normalcy and peace in Marawi and its environs as soon as possible. We wonder whether the continued state of Martial Law, much more its extension, will bring this about.

 

We believe that the war in Marawi is not religious. We have heard and read truly stunning stories of how Muslims have protected and helped Christians to escape from almost certain death. Even now Christians are assisting thousands of Muslims who have fled from Marawi for safety. These are indisputable signs that there is no religious war.

 

Condemnation of Terrorism and Violent Extremism

 

For this reason as Catholic religious leaders we condemn in the strongest terms possible, as did Islamic religious scholars in Mindanao, the violent extremist Maute group in Marawi. Its leaders and members have pledged allegiance to ISIS. They have contradicted the fundamental tenets of Islam by abducting and hostaging, maiming and killing the innocent.

 

Dialogue for Peace, the Common Word

 

Join us then, beloved people of good will, in conducting intra-faith dialogue among our respective co-religionists so that our various faiths may not be exploited and abused for the sake of terrorism or violent extremism. Let parents, schools, churches and mosques ensure that none may be lured by the recruitment efforts of terrorists. Let us teach the young and the old that our faiths are meant for peace. No religion teaches the killing of innocent people, simply because they belong to another religion.

 

Join us and let us continue the inter-religious dialogue called for by hundreds of Islamic leaders throughout the world. In 2007 they called for peace between Muslims and Christians when they wrote their famous open letter on “the Common Word” to Christian religious leaders. How true their words were! The Muslim leaders wrote:

 

The basis for peace and understanding already exists. It is part of the very foundational principles of both faiths: love of the One God and love of neighbor.

 

This is the commandment of God in Deuteronomy 6:4-5.

 

Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone! Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with your whole heart, and with your whole being, and with your whole strength.

 

Our Lord Jesus, who is also revered as prophet in the Qur’an, cited this scriptural text and elaborated on it in Mark 12:28-31.

 

One of the scribes … asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

 

He further commanded us: “Love one another as I love you” (John 15:12).

 

Praxis of Love and Gratitude

 

Loving our neighbor needs action. Let us together invest our resources to helping the thousands of people who have fled from the horrors of Marawi. Let us pray for the safety of trapped civilians and of those abducted and hostaged by the terrorists. Let us be vigilant and alert, helping our security forces thwart the threats of terrorism in other areas of Mindanao. Let us help the government rebuild the city of Marawi so that its citizens may return and restore their broken lives.

 

With profound gratitude we acknowledge the priceless generosity of kind donors from different faiths, both local and foreign, who promptly responded to meet the needs of the people of Marawi who have fled to safer areas. We appeal for more help especially for those home-based displaced people who are not yet adequately served.

 

Maryam, the mother of Jesus, is praised and honored in the Qur’an and by many Christians. Catholics believe that 100 years ago she appeared to three children in the village of Fatima, which is the very name of the daughter of the prophet Muhammad. To the prayers of Maryam, we commend our efforts for peace and harmony between peoples of different faiths.

 

“Let us respect each other, be fair, just and kind to one another and live in sincere peace, harmony and mutual good will” (see the Common Word letter).

 

May the God of peace be with you!

 

On behalf of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines,

 

+ Socrates B. Villegas, D.D.
Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan
President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines
July 10, 2017

 

Pursue What Leads to Peace (Statement of the Mindanao Bishops on Marawi and Martial Law)

Photo Credit: CBCP News Website

To All People of Good Will:

 

We, Catholic Bishops of Mindanao, address this Statement to every Mindanawon. We originally intended to respond to the requests of our Catholic faithful who asked for pastoral guidance on the issue of Martial Law.

 

We pray for all the murdered innocent victims in Marawi and ask the Lord to protect all the families that have fled to safety.

 

We condemn the terrorist acts that have caused the loss of many innocent lives, the burning of homes, public buildings, including a Protestant school dormitory and a Catholic Cathedral.

 

We condemn the unconscionable kidnapping of teachers and church personnel.

 

We pray for the safety of all the kidnapped, of Fr. Teresito Suganob and his companions. We appeal to the hostage takers to release all of them unharmed. The victims fear death but they also have the courage to give ultimate witness to Christ.

 

In the strongest terms we condemn terrorism in its various forms. It is an ideology that is totally against the tenets of any religion of peace. Especially so when terrorism is perpetrated while our Muslim brothers and sisters are preparing for the holy month of Ramadhan. Terrorism distorts and falsifies the true meaning of any religion. It destroys harmonious relationships among peoples of different faiths. It creates a world of suspicion and prejudice, of hatred and hostility.

 

The President of the Philippines has responded to the Marawi crisis by declaring Martial Law in the entire Mindanao. Many criticise the decision as reminiscent of the horrors of a past dictatorship. Others support the decision as justified.

 

We are aware that the problems of peace and order, of the continuing disruptive activities of other rebel groups, the problems of criminality and drugs, of corruption and underdevelopment are in every nook and corner of Mindanao. Mindanao problems go beyond the city limits of Marawi.

 

Our Catholic faithful have asked for pastoral guidance regarding Martial Law. We are guided by the Sacred Scriptures and by the social teachings of the Church. St. Paul exhorts us to “pursue what leads to peace” (Rom. 14: 19).

 

Martial Law is a means of last resort. Are moral principles fulfilled? Were other means to resolve the deep and wide serious problems of Mindanao impractical and ineffective? Will the positive effects of Martial Law outweigh the negative effects? Will there be probability of success? Will it bring about a culture of accountability and end a culture of impunity? Will Martial Law increase human rights violations? Will Martial Law be abused for evil purposes?

 

The answers to many questions are speculative. We have many fears. But at present we simply do not have solid and sufficient facts to absolutely reject the declaration of Martial Law as morally reprehensible. But we are certainly agreed that Martial Law must be temporary.

 

We shall condemn any abuse of Martial Law and as in the past will condemn it outright if it goes in the way of evil. Let us be vigilant.

 

We exhort everyone to be calm in the face of Martial Law, to be obedient to the just commands of lawful authority, and not to provoke violent reaction. We urge the government to remove the causes of terrorism, such as poverty and injustice, through just and accountable governance focused solely on the common good.

 

The focus of every religion is peace on earth, peace in heaven. Let us pursue together what leads to peace. Let all religious teachers and leaders quell the tendencies towards the terrorist ideology. Together let us pursue what leads to peace. Let us pray for peace and work for peace.

 

God bless the people of Marawi. God bless all Mindanawons.

 

With the approval of the Bishops of Mindanao,

 

 

+Orlando B. Cardinal Quevedo, O.M.I.
Archbishop of Cotabato
26 May 2017

Building Homes, Building Hope

The housing community in Dumlog, Talisay City

In the early 1990s, two Divine Word Missionaries, Fr. Heinz Kulüke, SVD and Fr. Max Abalos, SVD led the journey with the poor and the marginalized sectors of Cebu City, Philippines. They got involved in the concrete life situations of the fisher folks, urban poor, informal settlers, prostituted women and children and the scavengers of the four dumpsites of Metro Cebu.

 

It was also during this time, that another priest, Fr. John Iacomo, who was very active in the prison ministry started building up kindergartens as a long-term preventive measure for the children of today not to become the prisoners of tomorrow.

 

However, in the process, Fr. John also realized that if children would not have decent homes, and still have the same environment that would not promote good values, they might still go wayward and eventually end up in prison. It would be a never-ending cycle.

Vegetables garden in the subdivision

So, he initiated the San Pio Village project. It kicked off in 2006 and most of the houses were sponsored by the Habitat for Humanity, a foundation that put faith into action by building affordable homes in order to break the cycle of poverty.

 

However, due to health reasons, Fr. John had to go back to Australia. The project was turned over to Fr. Heinz Kulüke, SVD. The new management asked the leadership of the SVD congregation’s social arm, the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation – Integrated Development Corporation (JPIC-IDC) to manage San Pio Village.

 

Later on, with the leadership of JPIC-IDC, more houses were created and more structures and services were erected: livelihood building, cooperative building, drainage system, water pumps, concrete gate and barriers, multi-purpose building, basketball court, playground and piped water system.

The image of San Pio inside the subdivision

 

Eventually, the word “Janssenville” was attached to San Pio Village as a tribute to the founder of the SVD, St. Arnold Janssen. The JPIC leaders then started calling the housing beneficiaries as their “home partners.”

 

Also, more JPIC-IDC programs and projects were implemented in the village, like scholarship, livelihood, technical and vocational support to selected homeowners.

 

The JPIC-IDC is rooted in the vision of “fullness of life in a transformed society” and it commits to five very important missions: (1) women and children development; (2) human and community development; (3) economic and cooperative development; (4) education, and (5) disaster preparedness and emergency response and rehabilitation.

 

The home partners practice proper waste segregation

 

Communicating Climate Change

Communicating Climate Change

 

COMMUNICATING CLIMATE CHANGE: Inviting you all a forum on Media and Environment at the Titus Brandsma Center (24 Acacia Street, New Manila Quezon City) this coming March 31, 2017 from 1:30 pm to 5:00 pm. Admission is FREE! Registration starts at 12:30 pm. For more inquiries, call 726-6054 or text 0995-9944-285.

 

Speakers:

  1. Prof. Ruth Guzman (Chairperson of the Philippine Association of Tertiary Level Educational Institutions in Environmental Protection and Management

 

  1. Atty. Mary Ann Lucille Sering (Former Vice-Chairperson of the Climate Change Commission)

 

  1. Prof. Crispin Maslog (Chairperson of Asian Media Information and Communication Center Inc.)

 

  1. Fr. Dexter Toledo (Chairperson of Ecological Justice Interfaith Movement)

 

 

Kalinga sa Pagtulog

Kalinga: Caring is our Business

Kalinga: Caring is our Business

In Arnold Janssen Kalinga Center’s desire to offer care to the marginalized especially the homeless, we launch tonight the “Kalinga sa Pagtulog” – a Night Shelter Program. Meet our first of the 15 beneficiaries.
We hope to do this on an experimental basis of 2 nights a week, from 8pm-6am the following day. It begins with a registration followed by hygiene and showers; then prayers and life sharing; lastly, preparing their mats and blankets.
Kalinga: Caring is our Business

Kalinga: Caring is our Business

With a secured place for the night and a prayer, they wake up fresh and ready to face again tomorrow. You are most welcome to come and visit us.
Meet Jesus among the poor. 😀
Credit:Fr. Flavie Villanueva, SVD
Kalinga: Caring is our Business

Kalinga: Caring is our Business

Awesome Pollinators

Entrance of Monfort Bat Sanctuary

Entrance of Monfort Bat Sanctuary

Monfort Bat Cave (Samal Island), Davao Region, Philippines:

The largest known colony of an estimated 2.5 million

Geoffroy’s Rousette fruit bats (Rousettus amplexicaudatus)

in the world.

These bats are the major pollinators of durian.

Interestingly, they also show no sign of slowing down.

Female bats here in Samal are continuously pregnant,

a departure from the bats’ usual seasonal gestation habits.

Wow.

Bats!

Bats!

 

Bats...

Bats…

 

...bats...

…bats…

 

..and more bats!

..and more bats!