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Kimberly Marie Lopez, Youth Solidarity for Peace

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Peace issues in Mindanao were just like hot topics that seem irresolvable until now. As time pass by, the wars, bombings, killings, issues of human trafficking, and any other bad acts that reached the national news gave the Filipino people and other nationalities all over the world a bad view of our land. It is a conflict that we know and yet we don’t care to act and change the minds of others.

We tend to isolate ourselves and not stepping out to face reality. This is my mindset before. Being a member of the Youth Solidarity for Peace for how many years, I’m aware of the struggle we Mindanaoans strive to be accepted, and I’m also aware of the gap between the Christian and Muslim people. And yet this awareness of mine doesn’t push me to the edge to act and change something about these problems. That is where reality stands in front of me.

Last May 8-12, I attended the “National Youth Ambassadors Program for Peace 2012” of the PeaceTech Embassy. In this five-day program, sessions revolved on the understanding of peace and conflict, the use of technology on conveying messages of peace, and positive reinforcements when facing a conflict. But what struck me the most in this program was the people I’ve met.

Being exposed to an environment where people from different cities of the Philippines were there, I’ve heard stories of people who experienced war, people talked about what they think of Mindanao, and stories of people who experienced discrimination. It made me ask myself, “What did I do to help these people and change the image of Mindanao to them?” Maybe I am just an ordinary girl but even in my simple ways I have to do something.

We’ve got to do something! I’ve told the stories of my journey in the YSP, on how in our own ways we start peace. I told then on how we Zamboangueños live harmoniously amidst our different religions and practices. If only we do these simple things and if only we are not afraid to try then maybe we can eliminate the bad image of Mindanao or prevent our people to be discriminated.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” This is what the great Mahatma Gandhi taught us. We always want to see changes in our lives, in our country or in the world, but we are afraid to take a step out of our comfort zones. When will we start? Maybe now is the time or never will it have a change. Remember that what we do reflects on who we are, then let us make those people see who we Mindanaoans are. The beauty we have makes us people who deserved to be accepted. Let us now face reality! Aldrin Bucoy Abdurahim




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