The Peacemakers’ Circle Foundation, Inc. (PCFI) and the United Religions Initiative Southeast Asia & the Pacific (URI-SEAP) Regional Office joined forces with the Sowing Peace for Mindanao network* in organizing a back-to-back peace event in Quezon City, Metro Manila on Saturday September 20, 2008, eve of the UN International Day of Peace.
Torches were lit for the peace walk that followed with all marching to the beat of the drums, ringing of chimes and gongs and voices raised in a chorus of chanting - “Stop the war in Mindanao! Give peace a chance!” The traffic on the street kept going but it was heartwarming that many cars stopped and blew their horns in support.
Around 7:00 o’clock in the evening the crowd proceeded to the Environmental Studies Institute inside the Miriam College campus for the FAITHS IN HARMONY, SYMPHONIES OF PEACE, an interfaith concert. Hosted by Ms. Marites Africa of PCFI, the musical celebration offered an array of creative peace presentations – meditation, chanting, songs, dances and prayers-- from the various spiritual groups and partner organizations.
An inspirational peace song was rendered by Ms. Mirma Tica of Pax Christi – Miriam College, while chanting and peace prayers were heard from Mrs. Tomomi Shima and members of Shinji Shumei Kai (Japanese spiritual organization) ; Babaji Surinder Singh Ragi of Guru Nanak Mission (Sikh); and Mahraj Prem Shanker Pandey of the Hindu Temple-Manila.
The Self-Realization Fellowship (Paramahansa Yogananda-founded group) presented a song and engaged everyone in a healing action prayer.
The evening was capped off with the ever-lively music and chanting by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON/Hare Krishna) that led to community jamming as everyone pushed their seats to the side and, hand-in-hand, formed a big dance circle across the hall.
It was a wonderful sight to behold as people from different faiths and cultures sang, chanted and danced together in joyful harmony and celebration as we continue to demonstrate solidarity in sowing peace in the country and the whole world!
See more photos here
*The Sowing Peace for Mindanao network
Since the first outbreak of violence that followed the aborted signing (last August 5, 2008) of the Memorandum of Agreement on the Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP), over 500,000 innocent civilians, mostly women and children, in over 66 municipalities in 11 provinces across Central Mindanao continue to suffer displacement from their homes and are living in difficult conditions in evacuation centers or makeshift evacuation sites in their areas. Homes, schools, mosques and chapels in those areas have been burned during the fighting between the renegade factions of the MILF and the government troops.
Concerned peace advocates in the country called for the cessation of violence and the resumption of the peace talks, but their calls largely remained unheeded. In Metro Manila, those of us who have been engaged in peacebuilding work realized that we needed to join forces if we were to hope for some gains in our efforts. In this spirit, we--representatives of various NGOs--got together and called our collective endeavors SOWING PEACE FOR MINDANAO (SPM).
Among the organizations represented in SPM were: The Peacemakers' Circle Foundation, Inc. (URI CC), Binhi ng Kapayapaan, Inc., Center for Peace Education of Miriam College, Balay Rehabilitation Center, Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute, Anak Mindanao (AMIN), Pinay..Kilos (PINK), Moro Human Rights Center, and Interfaith Center for a Culture of Non-Violence (ICCN). Together they engaged in various forms of collaborative action in partnership with and support of the Mindanao Solidarity Network and Mindanao Peoples' Caucus (through the help of Atty. Mary Ann Arnado).
For more info, please check out: www.sowingpeace.multiply.com