Youths Take Centerstage in Week’s Celebrations

ZAMBOANGA CITY – This year’s Week of Peace revealed the strongest yet participation of children and youth to create just and lasting peace in local society.

This was the observation of the Fr. Angel Calvo, president of Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) at the culmination of the week-long peace observance that ended on December 3.

“We have seen the seed of peace is growing. Thank you, young people. Thank you, the youth of Zamboanga for making us realize once again. It has been a beautiful celebration, a model of celebration for peace in the whole country.” he said during the closing program at the open ground of Western Mindanao State University (WMSU). The ceremony capped a torch parade.

“With this youth of Zamboanga, we will continue growing in peace, continue developing the gift of peace for all,” he added.

The peace observance with the theme “Integrity of Mind and Heart: Way to Reconciliation and Peace”, ended with the traditional torch parade that started at scenic Pettit Barracks, passed through the city’s thoroughfares to WMSU, where a short program was held.

The bulk of the marchers, which reached more than 10,000, were children and youth coming from different schools and organizations.

Also visible in the torch parade were people from the religious sector, government and non-government as well as people’s organization, and military units.

The culmination was held along with musical peace festival that was initiated and participated by youth leaders. Renowned local visual artist Rameer Tawasil and peace journalist Darwin Wee together with several others led the concert.

The group had already produced an original peace album.

Tawasil was also one of the participants in the Mindanao Visual Art Peace Festival, where several other visual artists coming from all over Mindanao showcased their works.

The observance of the Week was witnessed by some religious leaders from Papua Jayapura of Indonesia. They said they learned many things about peace advocacies that PAZ is implementing, particularly the activities of the Youth Solidarity for Peace, the youth arm of PAZ, when they attended a solidarity soiree of the group.

Bishop Leo Ladjar, head of the delegation, said they admired the high spirits of the young people in the city and they learned many things from them.

“By coming to this celebration, we are grateful to you all, because we learned much from you, we admired the young people, and we see many things that young people are doing for building peace,” he noted.

The Indonesian group of religious leaders was composed of Roman Catholic, evangelicals and Muslims, was here mainly to dialogue and consult with the Interreligious Solidarity Movement Peace (IRSMP). A forum was held for the purpose from December 2 and 3 at the Lantaka Hotel. It focused on community peace building and advocacy programs.

The Papuans said they plan to bring to their native province some of the activities they saw during the peace week, like the Peace Weavers award. This award is a recognition given by the IRSMP and PAZ to individuals or organizations who have devoted their time and resources for humanitarianism and peace in the region.

The Papuans joined in the torch parade, too.

Other activities included PAZ na Barangay in Sta. Catalina, children and youth peace assembly, Mindanao Peace Forum, visual art peace exhibit and the Peace Tech Video Conference and a peace concert.

Dr. Grace Rebollos, the WMSU president and the vice president of PAZ, ended the program with a short message of peace and urged everyone especially the youth to work for peace not only today but in the future, as well.

“As we move towards the future all the flowers of today, all the seeds of today, for the flowers of tomorrow and we plant the seeds of peace today so that we can continue to celebrate and live the best of peace tomorrow,” she said.

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