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From Zamboanga with love


Sixty-seven years after the first nuclear bomb exploded in the Japanese city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 (a second one was also dropped in Nagasaki three days later), causing the death of over a hundred thousand civilians, the deadly event continues to echo strongly around the world – now with a message and call for world peace.

One of the echoes to commemorate the anniversary took place in Zamboanga City this August 7 with the inauguration of what could be the country’s first school-based Peace Crane Center at the Zamboanga City High School-Main campus. The center by its printed and digital information materials is intended to foster peace-oriented social values and skills among the school’s students and serve as a resource center as well for the faculty to teach peace lessons in the classroom.

The materials were formally turned over to the school’s principal, Dr. Felisa Munar, by the joint sponsors of the project – Peace Advocates Zamboanga represented by its executive secretary Sr. Emma Delgado and peace education coordinator Aldrin Abdurahim, and Inter-Religious Solidarity  Movement for Peace represented by Muslim convenor Prof. Ali Yacub and peace education coordinator Abdu-Rahim Kenoh.

The donation to the center included a laptop, LCD machine and screen and printer that came from the local government of Hiroshima City.  This was facilitated by Aldrin, who participated in a study tour to Hiroshima last year, sponsored by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The books were donated by the World Vision and the local NGO Golden Crescent Consortium of Peacebuilders and Associates. Five more of such centers are planned for selected public high schools in the city.

The launching was preceded by a short program wherein a Memorandum of Agreement was inked between the IRSMP and the Department of Education’s Division of City Schools, headed by Superintended Pedro Melchor Natividad. The  agreement seeks to further institutionalize peace education in local public schools through a slew of specific campus and classroom projects or efforts.

In his message, Natividad told the principals of the 36 participating national high schools and several elementary school district representatives that no teacher can regard him- or herself successful in the job if any of their students would break the law or cause violence in the community. 

The “crane” in the center’s name comes from the story of Sadako Sasaki, “a Japanese girl living in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb was dropped on Japan (August 6, 1945). In 1955, at age 11, Sadako was diagnosed with leukemia, a type of cancer caused by the atomic bomb.

“While in the hospital, Sadako started to fold paper cranes. In Japan, there is a belief that if you folded 1000 paper cranes, then your wish would come true. Sadako spent 14 months in the hospital, folding paper cranes with whatever paper she could get.

Her wish was that she would get well again. Sadako also wished for an end to all suffering and to attain peace and healing to the victims of the world.

“Sadako died on October 25, 1955, she was 12 years old and had folded over 1300 paper cranes. Sadako’s friends and classmates raised money to build a memorial in honor of Sadako and other atomic bomb victims. The Hiroshima Peace Memorial was completed in 1958 and has a statue of Sadako holding a golden crane. At the base is a plaque that says: This is our cry. This is our prayer.  Peace in the world.” (Rey-Luis Banagudos/Peace Advocates Zamboanga)

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