Home | MINDANAOAN AKO, FILIPINO AKO: Leadership and Peace Summit

by Angelo Paulo R Bitangcor, SAFHA Publications

With the goal to further develop the peacemaking potentials of Mindanaoan youth leaders, the Social Development Office of Ateneo de Zamboanga University, in partnership with Naawan Helps, US Embassy, and Salaam-AdZU conducted the Mindanaoan Ako, Filipino Ako (MAFA) Summit last October 30, 2019 at the AdZU Lantaka Campus. The event serves as a culmination of the MAFA Leadership and Peace Camp which was held last April 11-14, 2019 at Cecille’s Pension House. This time, not only student leaders from Zamboanga, Basilan, and Tawi-Tawi but also organizations from various regions in Mindanao were given the opportunity to expand their knowledge on peace and leadership-related matters.

The day-long activity was commenced by Fr. Francisco “Koko” S. Parilla, SJ, one of the project leaders of MAFA, who highlighted the significance of patriotism. It was immediately followed by a series of talks rendered by individuals who have already carved their names in the field of leadership and peacemaking. Ms. Fatima Star Lamalan, the head of Salaam Movement of Ateneo de Davao University, graced the event with insightful inputs on the role of the youth in peace building and the ways to promote such advocacy. Furthermore, Mr. Arthur Joshua Rodriguez, a Philippine Youth Leadership Program (PYLP) alumnus, emphasized the significance of the youth by highlighting their roles in governance and enumerating the reasons to involve themselves in issues related to the said field. The first half of the program was concluded by Mr. Val Vestil, a TAYO Award recipient last 2018. In his talk, he inspired the participants with his leadership journey and encouraged them to realize their dream projects for their respective communities.

To commence the afternoon program, Mr. John Mayo M. Enriquez, the head of AdZU-SDO and still one of the project leaders of MAFA, introduced the most awaited part of the summit – the World Café. It was formally opened through a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by the project leaders themselves. The World Café gave the student leaders and their mentors the chance to engage and gain insights from other participants by showcasing and sharing the projects that they have implemented in their respective schools or municipalities. Different schools participated in this event, such as Ateneo de Zamboanga University, Pilar College of Zamboanga City, Western Mindanao State University, Claret College of Isabela, Basilan National High School, Basilan State College, Mindanao State University, Tawi-Tawi Regional Agricultural College, Mahardika Institute of Technology, and Notre Dame of Bongao. Each project, big or small in scope, has its fair share in peacebuilding efforts. In addition, organizations from different parts of Mindanao were also given the opportunity to promote and exhibit their peace efforts. The participating organizations were Sugpat, Peace Crops, Palapa sa Lumba, Kalilintad sa Lanao, Tausug Active Youth Organization, Kusug Batah Sug Incorporated, and Lakas Kabataan Incorporated.

The summit concluded with the signing and internalization of a pledge led by Mr. Warith Abdula, MAFA project assistant and moderator of Salaam-AdZU. The pledge established the participants’ commitment as peacebuilders which aims to empower them to continue to promote their advocacies and fulfill their duties as young peacemakers – para sa Mindanao at para sa Pilipinas.