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The Youth Summer Peace Camp that was


Summer is usually the time for everyone, particularly young teenagers to get into a vacation of fun and revelry. Going to different places all over the country, diving and jumping into the swimming pools of resorts in Boracay or in Palawan, are surely some of the past times of the youth today. The idea of joining a summer camp would literally make someone to pause, sit and think. Well, a camp is usually a gathering of participants, going off to some farfetched places, setting up tents and sleeping bags. But a Youth Summer Peace camp sponsored by Peace Advocate Zamboanga, is something to look forward to. A camp like no other, a gathering of participants from different organizations and of different religions is what we expected it to be and thank God, our expectation came true.

In joining this year’s Youth Summer Peace Camp, we learned a lot of things, literally! The experiences that we had, the friendship that we shared, the memories that we reminisced, these are but some of what we gained from the camp. In this camp, we learned not to be just mere participants, who would usually sit and listen to a resource speaker, a moment later, would yawn and would eventually fall asleep. Well, in this camp, it’s very much different, we were the ones facilitating the activities, and we were the ones who made everything work. In this camp, our eyes were open to the pressing issues regarding peace and solidarity here in Mindanao. We became much aware of how these issues are pressing the society, most especially the poor and the marginalized. This camp moulded each and every one of us to be leaders in our own ways. To develop our talents, to hear our voices and to find our true potentials and passion as peace advocates. The camp, together with the people behind it, inspires all of us that through a simple gathering, we can achieve something new, something of great progress and that is, the youth, playing its part as the rising hope in our diminishing society.

After the camp, our batch, decided on taking actions such as conducting outreach programs in our respective communities. Getting in touch with both the local and community channels would be helpful in the advocacy of PAZ to develop a sense of awareness to everyone here in our society. One major action that we hope to fulfil is that for the voices of the youth to be heard. We make it clear that in the GPH-MILF Peace Talks, the youth has the right to be consulted and to be part of the consultation process as drastic changes here in Mindanao would surely affect our future. By being part of the consultation, we ask that the proposals of such academes, which include the recently introduced Comprehensive Compact of the MILF, be summarized for us to be able to clearly understand the issue and the situation which would lead the youth to make a stand on that matter. Our voices and our plea to be part of the negotiating and consultation proper should not be set aside. It’s our future that matters, whatever happens to the present society, be it a change of government or a formation of a Bangsa-Moro sub state would affect our lives, the lives of every Filipino youth.

By John Xyrious Dela Cruz,
Young Peace Weaver 2011

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