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Moving Forward with Hope


November 13, 2013

The week-end of November 9-11, 2013 was a busy one for the Silsilah Dialogue Movement family.

It has been a long-time practice in Silsilah for members to gather towards the end of each year to renew bonds of friendship, to hear how friends had fared in the many events that touch our lives. And most important, for each one to renew commitment to the work of Silsilah.

This year’s gathering was particularly significant because of the MNLF attack on Zamboanga City on September 9 and which lasted for three weeks. Even as this is written the city is still reeling from the impact of the attack. In the context of Silsilah’s work promoting Muslim-Christian dialogue the MNLF excursion into Zamboanga City is considered a major challenge, particularly in terms of the trust each faith group has for the other.

The theme for the activities of the week-end – the discussions and the concluding program on Sunday morning – was most apropos. “From Ground Zero to Ground of Hope.” Ground Zero referred to the 6 barangays of the city which became the battle ground for the three-week long fighting between the invading rebels and the government forces. It referred to the devastated area of burnt homes and businesses from which the nearly 100,000 internally displaced persons came from.

Ground of Hope referred to the place in the heart and the mind which Zamboanga City residents, and more particularly Silsilah members, need to reach and allow trust and friendship between the faith groups not only to take root once again but to thrive even more.

The verbalizations of commitment to promote Silsilah’s vision in one’s personal and professional capacities were very heartwarming. The group who came for the week-end cut across many sectors: Muslims, Christians and Lumads; young and old; students, employed adults and farmers. All reflected on how each one on a personal basis could move inter-faith dialogue farther.

The numbers in the concluding program on Sunday morning stayed on the theme with particular underscoring on the idea of HOPE. Councilor Myra Abubakar spoke in place of Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar who had to go out of town on official business. Councilor Abubakar said that the indomitable spirit of Zamboanga City’s people will see them through to the rebuilding of a better and stronger Zamboang City. Dr. Erlinda Espinosa said that brick by brick the ruins of Ground Zero will be rebuilt through the sweat and the strength of bare arms of Zamboangueños.

The young people had two numbers which truly meant hope for all. Young tots from the Padayon Center, which had been burned in the attack, continue to meet for classes in a tent for a school in the evacuation center. They sang “Yesterday’s Dream”. Those from the SilPeace Youth Group sang an oldie, “We are the World”, which remains relevant in our continuing belief that the young people of our society will build a better world for all of us.

A strong boost to hope came in the message of Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra, PIME who informed the Silsilah members gathered in the gymnasium that on November 27, 2013 in Tokyo, Japan he will receive on behalf of the Silsilah Dialogue Movement the Goi Peace Award for 2013 which had been awarded to the Movement.

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