Mindanao Week of Peace
26th November 2014
Good afternoon, magmalinawong hapon kanatong tanan! I welcome all of us in this short and important ritual which marks our institutional commitment to commemorate peace as a way of life and the pursuit of peace as our way of proceeding as a Filipino, Catholic and Jesuit University.
We may ask ourselves, why peace? Why continue to take this path for which people across all generations, and people of all colours and religious persuasions have devoted a great deal of their time working toward something which has remained so very elusive for so many, especially those who paid such a high price for it? Ultimately, our answer would be—as we join in the week-long observance of the Mindanao Week of Peace 2014—that this is no time to be despairing.
For us, this is the time to feel the spirit of God leading us to this important juncture in the history of our country when we are so close to finally sealing the much coveted peace in this region of Mindanao. The historic signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) ushered in a new era for us. With the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) now in the hands of Philippine Congress, and awaiting public scrutiny, let us all be mindful that there is still a lot of work ahead of us. But at least, the opportunities for sealing peace abound. Let us also be mindful though that we continue to pray and work hard for this elusive peace to finally reign not just in Mindanao but for the rest of the country.
This year is the 5th year of our commemoration of one of the most painful chapters in our history as Mindanawons, the Maguindanao Massacre—with the victims and their families still awaiting justice from a legal system that remains suspect in the eyes of many. This, and all other instances of conflict and violence which continue to be a thorn in our side, are still here, casting a deep shadow in our desire to live in peace.
This afternoon, as we launch the 2014 Mindanao Week of Peace celebration which will formally start tomorrow, we are invited to pause and reflect, to remember and to dream what lies ahead in our desire to achieve a state of being where peace ultimately reigns in our hearts and in our minds. This celebration is also a moment to honour our heroes, our champions of peace—those who have fallen by the wayside and those who continue to take up the cudgel of peace-building with the last draw of their breath.
This afternoon, as a university community, we look to our God for inspiration and strength, we pray to Him to give all of us the courage to live as peacemakers and peace-builders in a land that is constantly challenged with the reality of conflict and violence. In this short ceremony, may we be reminded of this constancy by which God loves us as His children.