Kabataan ang Pag-asa ng Bayan. “Youth is the future of the country.” This has been the premise of Rotary International and the Philippine government’s Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) when they planned and carefully organized the MasterPEACE Boot Camp. The title is actually a combination of “masterpiece” and “peace”.
Out of 400+ applicants coming from the different major islands of the Philippines, i.e. Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, 70 successful potential peacebuilders were invited for a workshop and seminar on the most pressing harmony-related issues in the country. Trainings were held for 4 days both in Tagaytay City and Cotabato City.
The first two days were dedicated for a holistic yet vivid discussion of the status of national peacebuilding. Plausible causes and consequences, and their intersection points, were thoroughly debated over by various participants in order to surface salient topics. Pathways to peace were explored by the participants through group discussions and sharing. The next two days were devoted for hands-on activities in grassroots communities who have experienced conflicts. Participants have been very active in sharing their knowledge to the communities, and also in listening to and learning from the their first-hand experiences.
National Youth Participation
As part of the learning group, I realized how crucial the participation of the youth sector is in the peace process. Youth’s ability to share and develop innovative ideas has the power to create huge impact in the society. However, this potential could only grow through connections and fruitful exchange with others. This has been the primary reason 70 youth participants were gathered in this life-changing event.
Personally, I had the opportunity to subject my perspective into constructive scrutiny by other youth participants. Mingling with people of different geographical, religious, and social context gave me the chance to widen my views on a lot of things. It was a turning point in our lives where we actually realized that diversity is not the root cause of unharmonious relationship, and that unity amidst diversity could be worked out.
Currently, as a way of giving back to Rotary Club and Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, we participants took the initiative to formally establish an organization forwarding national peace with the 70 youth as pioneering members. This is an ongoing matter.
International Youth Participation
The same goes for international peace. Youth plays a huge role in achieving social, cultural, and political harmony between and among countries. Unity does not mean being the same. It means that countries find acceptance of diversity and are able to fully respect diverging points. This is why national governments continue the dialogues in order to formulate actions to achieve such goal.
As what Ms. Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Usman, founder of Teach Peace Build Peace—Philippines, said: “Peace is like a tree. It can grow if we choose to nurture it. Not just advocate for it but let us have a concrete action plan when we get back to our schools and communities.”
By Loren Daryl R. Sarenas, ASEAN Correspondent from Philippines