YOUTH Solidarity for Peace (YSP) president Robert N. Basco has been named as one of the Sen. Roseller T. Lim Five Outstanding Zamboangueno Young Leaders (FOZYL) for 2013.

The City Government of Zamboanga and Junior Chamber International- Zamboanga conferred the honors in a ceremony held last February 9 at Garden Orchid Hotel during which nine nominees were presented and five were awarded.

Basco having been in the organization since its existence started as a volunteer-turned facilitator for peace sessions and coordinator for major YSP activities. He was elected YSP president last year.

YSP has been awarded as well by the National Youth Commission and TAYO Foundation with the National Finalist slot in 2010 Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations of the Philippines and TAYO National Awardee last 2011. It was awarded with the prestigious ASEAN TAYO Award, making it the first organization from Zamboanga city to be awarded in Bangkok, Thailand.

Having been honored by such a recognition, Basco has pledge d to continue his voluntary works in the organization and to complete his course of BS Civil Engineering at Western Mindanao State University.

The other four awardees were also from WMSU in the persons of Arnold Bucoy, James Alih and Jay Calumpon and Ms. GraZiella.

Basco joins the other YSP Volunteers who were awarded with such honor to include Rosie France Montojo (2008), Christian Olasiman (2009), Mary Rose Jean Andrada (2009), Aldrin Bucoy-Abdurahim (2009), Anne Claire Molina (2010), Fatima Al-Zahra Ditti (2012), and Ronald Villano (2012).

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PAZ, Partners Launch Nutrition Project in Southcom High

A GROUP of graduating students of Southcom National High School in partnership with Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) in mid-January launched a 30-day feeding program in their school located in Southcom Village, Zamboanga City.

With the theme “Feeding Program Builds Healthy ICT Educations”, the project aimed to address the nutritional needs of the school’s own students especially who are considered undernourished.

The launching was held in the conference room of the school which was attended by the school principal, GPTA president, members of the Interreligious Solidarity for Peace (ISP), president of the Rotary Club Central and some subject coordinators and students from that school.

Pilar Camille Quiroga, the class president of the IV Einstein, the class who initiated the activity, in an interview with PAZ Media said that the feeding program was the result of their brainstorming and individual efforts in their computer class.

“We had four groups in our computer class and we were asked by our computer teacher to come up with an attainable and sustainable project. When we brainstormed, the problem of malnutrition among students was unanimously adopted by our groups.” the youthful class leader said.

She said that after the group presented to the panel the issue on malnutrition, the panel approved it and suggested that it be the project of the entire class.

“We united with the other groups who presented that issue and we extend our help to them,” she said.

The whole class of IV Einstein with their teacher started getting the proper documentation from the entire populace of the school beginning from the freshmen up to the seniors to establish who are under the “severely wasted” category.

Severely wasted is a term used to describe a person who is undernourished because its height is not corresponding to the required weight.

The documentation led the discovery of some 20 students mostly from grade 7 to be severely wasted. Soon of these students were identified as “cooperating students”.

During the program Sr. Emma I. Delgado, Executive Secretary of PAZ, lauded the initiative of the students to realize the feeding program.

“Millions of people are doing feeding programs around the world, but this one (feeding program) is different from the usual feeding program because it is the result of the interactions of the students in their computer class,” she said.

The feeding program started last January 14 and ran for 30 days. Different stakeholders of the school like PAZ took turns to sponsor free nutritious food to the affected students during lunch time.

The study made by the group revealed that the severely wasted students are not only those who cannot afford to eat nutritious food but also those who are able but because of their lifestyle or habits they fall into this category.

It was found out that some of the students lack of sleep because they stay out late at night in the internet café playing interactive games. This problem is not only in the Southcom National High School since it is also experienced by many secondary students and even elementary pupils, reason why numerous net cafés had been sprouting in the urban places attracting potential netizens like the young students.

The Southcom National High School is one of the many schools that PAZ had established partnership with for the promotion of the culture of peace in the school. PAZ is actively advocating for peace in the city especially in the educational institutions where it provides skills training to students and school administrators on the integration of the Department of Education’s Executive Order 570 or the Institutionalizing the Integration of the Peace Education in the secondary school curriculum.

“At the end of the feeding program we are expecting that the students will become normal and will maintain good eating habits,” Quiroga said.

The launching was capped with a distribution of nutritious food to the students who are severely wasted and they took their lunch together with the other students and teachers.

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MILF Chief Negotiator Receives Award from PAZ, ISP

MORO Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panel chairman Mohagher Iqbal formally received the Peaceweaver Award from Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) chairman Fr. Angel Calvo, CMF and other convenors of the Inter-Religious Solidarity for Peace (ISP) when he paid a visit to the office of the Zamboanga-Basilan Integrated Development Alliance, Inc. (ZABIDA) on Monday, February 18.

The award is for the entire MILF peace panel and was one of six, to include the government peace panel as well, that was conferred during the Week of Peace 2012 celebration last November. Iqbal, however, was unable to come to receive it at the time and only sent a representative. His trip to Zamboanga City for a forum in Basilan Province provided an opportunity for him to personally receive the award and to meet with some leading interfaith peace advocates of the city.

Fr. Calvo in welcoming the MILF leader and peace panel members Abdullah Camlian and Abhoud Syed Lingga reiterated the continuing support of PAZ and ISP to the peace process, especially the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and its projected implementation measures.

In his response, Iqbal gave a bird’s eye view of the status of ongoing discussions between the government and MILF panels to complete the four annexes that are needed to operationalize the FAB. He sounded cautiously optimistic about how soon the annexes will be completed, since some issues are apparently encountering tough bargaining.

The award citation, read by PAZ vice-chairperson Dr. Grace Rebollos, praised the MILF peace panel as “The wise and prudent vanguard of that collective Bangsamoro aspiration . . . For negotiating for 15 years for a peaceful resolution of the 40 years of armed rebellion –and the antecedent centuries of a war of resistance in Mindanao – the MILF peace panel has earned a unique and rare place in the world stage as a Peaceweaver.”

The FAB is the breakthrough accord enacted last year to provide a roadmap leading to the formation of a new autonomous government for the Bangsamoro people by not later that 2016.

PAZ and ISP issue the Peaceweaver Awards to individuals, groups or institutions annually in past years as part of the Mindanao Week of Peace celebration.

The newly-built ZABIDA office is located in Suterville, Zamboanga City.

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ZABIDA pushes GAD Plans in Barangays

THE Zamboanga-Basilan Integrated Development Alliance (ZABIDA), Inc. underscored the importance of “Gender and Development” (GAD) Planning in the development of local communities to government representatives during an assessment conference last December 28 held at the ZABIDA Peace & Development Resource Center at Suterville, San Jose Gusu.

During the presentation of the Gender Research Result, Research Head Writer Liezl Camacho evaluated the GAD plans individually prepared by five selected participating barangays, namely, San Jose Gusu, Mariki, La Paz, Sta. Catalina and Arena Blanco. The GAD plans should have served as their preliminary framework for future long-term plans, she said.

According to local researchers and participating barangay kagawads and officials who served as both respondents and researchers, they were either not aware of a GAD Plan allocation, which is at least 5% in the Barangay Development Plan, or had not used it for its intended purpose. One case was in Barangay San Roque, where the GAD money was reallocated for BCPC (Barangay Council for the Protection of Children), which they recently realized was inappropriate.

ZABIDA now aims to extend the advocacy and implementation of the gender program that I began last year to other communities of the city by providing technical assistance to the barangay officials to draft their GAD plan, according to ZABIDA Regional Technical Coordinator Esperencita E. Hupida. Furthermore, ZABIDA envisions completing the cycle of implementation, capacity building, monitoring and evaluation in all barangays, she added.

Dr. Grace J. Rebollos, vice-president of Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ), which implements the program in the city, suggested to barangay officials to come up with disaggregated gender data exclusively from their local records, as well as to appoint a “gender officer”. In this manner, it will be easier for them to both point out which gender-related issues are emerging and come up respective gender-related initiatives.

Present during the presentation were Department of Interior and Local Government City Director Prof. Mohammad Taha S. Arakama and CHRMO Asst. Dept. Head Roderico Jose L. Lucero, who responded well on the capacities that the local government is able to render, even later that the City Government acknowledged the importance of GAD plans and how they can sort out gender-related issues throughout the city.

ZABIDA chairman Fr. Angel Calvo urged the participants and other stakeholders to push forward the program in order to mobilize and involve more women in community development, in which they can make significant contribution.

The mobilization of women in community development is part of ZABIDA’s and PAZ’s umbrella program on public diplomacy and good governance. (Leo Jess Baya)

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