The Force of Truth: Reflections on the Eve of Ramadhan  

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ayi was one of the members of BROOD in Mindanao. She is very active when it comes to making a difference for the people espcially the youth in Mindanao. With a resilience and personality like this, I am sure that she gets in from the blood. Thus my friends, although it is a bit late, I am sharing this article written by Ayi's mom regarding the present situation in Mindanao. The posting might be a little too late but I am sure that it is worth reading. Enjoy reading...

The Force of Truth
Reflections on the Eve of Ramadhan

The other day I was watching a friend as she slept. She had just come back from a heart-rending trip to Pikit where they had commenced relief work. In the brief moment we were together she described how distressed she was at the recent turn out of events. The same sentiments were echoed by my other friends in Iligan, Marawi, Cotabato and Zamboanga. Mindanao has slipped into another cycle of violence. This has been going on for several decades. And it is making people like my friend frustrated about all the energies for peacebuilding that many people like her have put in.

Halfway through her sharing she dozed off unconsciously and for me the least I could do was to allow her that space to rest. It gave me a profound sense of joy to watch her.. In the midst of all the hatred and chaos that has gripped her homeland, she was an image of peace.

But in my heart, I could feel her pain.

We have been friends for eight years. Those were the years when Mindanao became a refuge from a phase of disillusionment about methods of work and patterns of relationships I had opted to take in my social involvement in Luzon . We met two years after I had returned to Mindanao to fulfill the seed of a promise I made as a young community volunteer in Kitaotao Bukidnon in the mid-80s. In the past years, I developed strong ties with her people so naturally it felt like I was a sister to them. Our NGO had been invited to help train some of the MNLF combatants who were trying the ways of peace in their community. I remember how we would talk about their struggle till midnight and how they were trying to get used to a life where they were able to move around freely. When my daughter graduated from high school, they volunteered to come as our guests in place of the other relatives who could not come from Mindoro . “We are now your relatives”, they said. I had never felt so touched by such gesture in my whole life.

At that time, my daughter did not have any idea who they were but now, as a young and idealistic worker for an IP and Muslim education program in Mindanao , she is proud to share with others how an entire squadron made it to her graduation guest list. And how all of them had to scrounge their allowance to be able to come in their best clothes.

Today, she just got back from volunteering in the evacuation sites in Pikit too. She is very engaged in peace work and obviously shares the same affinity for the Moro people that I have.

When the All-out War displaced thousands of people in that same place eight years ago, she wanted to go and bring some old clothes and blankets for the children. Somehow that did not happen inspite of the arrangements my friend was trying to make then. This time she was able to do it with her own connections.

We have both lived the best period of our lives here in Mindanao . As I continued to interact with more IP and Moro groups, I became more aware of the complexities of violent conflicts which manifested in poverty, injustice and war. I felt the simplest thing I could contribute was my own experience of how a peaceful life can be more meaningful as an aspiration. Lately, my mentoring work with development facilitators of the BDA have opened my eyes to the beauty of Islamic principles and how people can be mobilized for community development through value transformation.

In 2005, an opportunity to migrate to Canada became an embarrassing choice in the midst of the serious work that needed to be done here. Mindanao had become my home and there was a tugging feeling in the heart at the thought that I had to leave. As we marked our eighth year here, the decision to build our family nest in Davao had become a wiser option. And for me and my daughter, life has never been better.

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