by Zarina Isla-Villadolid
With its emphasis on peace being something to live by, the YACAPayapaan Summit not only marked the culmination of the US Embassy-funded CASS extension program Project YACAP (Youth Amplifying, Co-creating, and Advocating Peace), it also provided an avenue for devising ways forward as it gathered youth participants and community partners on July 23, 2018 at the CASSalida Theater, College of Arts and Social Sciences, MSU-IIT.
According to Project YACAP Co-Director Lynrose Jane Genon of the English Department, the project is a testament to how a shared vision and passion can bring people together in contributing “a piece of peace in the puzzle.”
CASS Dean Marie Joy Banawa added that initiatives like Project YACAP give academic institutions more reason to be purpose-driven in their pursuits.
During the summit, the participants talked about their experiences with the community projects they implemented over the course of four months. These projects, which are outputs of the YACAP workshop in February, were funded by the US Embassy through Project YACAP.
Two of these projects centered on faith as a resource of peace. Project Malaya promoted peace through intra-faith and interfaith dialogues on the interrelationship of religion, conflict, and peacemaking. It also included the distribution of prayer garments to Muslim internally displaced persons (IDPs). Lunhaw Lanao provided a venue for interfaith dialogue among youth in Lanao del Norte where a long history of armed conflict has caused a rift among Muslims and Christians in the area.
The responsible use of technology for promoting peace was the focus of two other projects. KulTourismo trained youth from Iligan City and Lanao del Sur in using multimedia tools and social media to raise cultural sensitivity while Peace Wins conducted a series of offline and online campaigns to educate highschool students in Marawi City on making social media a platform for propagating a culture of peace.
The fifth initiative, Project TaNaw, focused on creating safe green spaces through dialogue and community gardening to strengthen social relationships among the youth of Pala-o, Iligan City.
In recognition of their role in translating passion to action, community partners were also invited to the summit to share their reflections.
YACAPartner John Cris Moncal underscored the importance of communicating and engaging in order to make meaningful realizations and correct misconceptions. Another community partner, Arnann Jay Agosto, added that the project was an opportunity to meet like-minded young people who, despite their cultural differences, make efforts to build bridges of peace for Mindanao.
A panel consisting of #ForMindanao Social Media Manager Lovette Jam Jacosalem, KAPAMAGOGOPA, Inc. Community Organizer Asmin Monib, and the Dean gave insights about the five projects, including possibilities that can be explored in order to sustain and even expand the projects.
Using strings of different colors which were tied together to form a circle, Monib, who also served as a resource speaker, illustrated how every individual has a role to play in peacebuilding and how the five projects, with their different communities and approaches, are all tied together by one mission.
“There is no way to peace. Peace is the way,” added Monib, stressing that peace is not an end point.
Project YACAP Co-Director Irish Mae Fernandez-Dalona of the English Department wrapped up the summit by asking the participants and community partners to consider the end of the project as a starting point for advancing the advocacy and deepening the commitment nurtured during the course of the project. She encouraged them to keep believing that peace is possible and to continue to be part of the solution by being young advocates of peace.