Pre-dominantly Muslim High School Holds Solidarity Convocation “May peace be your way of life”

This was the prayerful wish of the principal to the 1,400 students of Arena Blanco High School during the short school-wide convocation held this morning (November 27) in their celebration of Week of Peace 2015. Muslim students who make up 90 percent of the enrolment took turns with their Christian schoolmates to read passages in the Koran and Bible respectively to foster understanding, respect and solidarity amongst them, said principal Garry Sta. Ana of the ceremony. The readings and sharing, he said, would touch their hearts and minds to build harmony in the campus as well as their community. Afterwards, some of the students joined their parents and teachers to paint the school’s roadside concrete fences with images and messages of peace. Sta. Ana said the school’s Parents-Teachers Association participated in the painting along with the personnel of the local police detachment, barangay tanods and officials, civic organizations and students of nearby elementary and high schools. These murals will help develop a culture of peace among students and other residents whenever they see them as they pass by daily, Sta. Ana said. I thank Peace Advocates Zamboanga especially Fr. Angel Calvo for helping us in this project, he added. PAZ pitched in by providing the enamel paints, brushes and suggested artworks and coaching by its staff and volunteers headed by program coordinator Rosie France Montojo. This is one of the school- and community-based activities in celebration of the Week of Peace, she said. The Week is being celebrated November 26 to December 2 in Zamboanga and many other communities in Mindanao. Mindanao’s Bishops-Ulama Conference has issued a solidarity message enjoining Mindanaoans to observe the annual event started in 1998 as an interfaith peace-building activity. Zamboanga’s Interreligious Solidarity for Peace launched the celebration with a kick-off parade and program yesterday (November 26) attended by some 20,000 participants from various sectors. The city’s archdiocese has also set several of its own activities for city-wide celebration. Mayor Ma. Isabel Climaco earlier issued an order enjoining all government agencies to observe the annual peace-fostering event.

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