(Updated) Fifty Muslim and twenty Christian youths joined the interfaith camp on July-24-29, 2019 held at Garden of Malasag Ecotourism-village of Cagayan de Oro after undergoing community immersions in Lanao provinces to understand their diverse contexts and unique socio-cultural lives.
The youth camp was designed in dialogical and interactive processes to learn from their experiences, beliefs, adopted social norms, way-of-life, culture, and faiths. A number of participants were internally displaced youths from the most affected areas of Marawi city.
They drew arts and formed symbolic ideas to explicate their experiential realizations from the immersion during their debriefing sessions.
Dr. Moctar Matuan of the Institute for Peace and Development in Mindanao (IPDM)-MSU Marawi and former research director of Dansalan College, discussed the history and relevance of interreligious dialogue in building a just, peaceful, and harmonious Muslim-Christian relations.
Citing various historic efforts made by religious and institutional leaders, Moctar pointed that interreligious dialogues have been considered as effective instrument or approach in conflict mediation and in peacebuilding in Mindanao.
Interfaith dialogue is a constructive conversation of different faith to develop more acceptance of their unique practices, understand their commonalities, and encourage better social cohesion for community peace. It aims at reducing prejudices and biases; transform youths as effective agents for development.
Prof. Corazon M. Mangelen, a trustee of Duyog Marawi and a member of Buklod-Muslim Christian Foundation, offered her personal narrative as a christian wife of a muslim husband and how they co-existed peacefully at home with four of her children practicing either Christianity and Islamic faith.
Mangelen said two of her children are Muslims and the other two are practicing the Catholic faith. The eldest has already performed her hajj at Mecca and one of her sons is a tabligh, she narrated.
On the other hand, two of her other children attend to Catholic church to practice their faith, she added.
“There is so much tolerance in our family and respect on religious freedom. At home, we no longer discuss differences of faith but we are sensitive on each other’s practices, like food, clothing, and fasting,” she said.
Mangelen story vivified a reality that its possible to be in a family with different faiths and yet be at home with so much respect and love.
In another group activity facilitated by Abel Moya, executive director of Pakigdait Inc., the participants discussed peace concepts and the relevance of interreligious interaction using Biblical and Qur’anic information and religious learning.
Results of their creative workshop was presented in a plenary.
Myra Malic, one of the Muslim youth leader, recited Surah Khafiron of the Qur’an in arabic language and simplified religious tolerance and respect by saying, “ang sinasamba ng ninuno nyo, ay Siyang pagsasambahin nyo. Ang sinasamba ko ay Siyang sasambahin ko. Ang sinasamba mo ay Siyang pagsasambahin mo.” (What your ancestors worshiped shall be worshiped. What I worshiped, I will worship. What you will worship, you will worship.)
Jamael Tuman, another young Muslim leader summarized the group reflection, “hindi tayo makakapasok sa langit kung hindi tayo magkakaisa; hindi tayo magkakaisa kung hindi tayo magmamahalan; subalit, hindi tayo magmamahal kung hindi tayo mananampalataya.” (We cannot enter heaven unless we are united; we cannot be united unless we love each other; we cannot love each other if we have no faith.)
The christian youths, on the other hand, expressed, “peace starts with you; it starts by loving and by appreciating our differences.”
“Love is overwhelming. We love you guys in the same intensity as we love our Christian friends. We love you as we love our neighbors. Its through this love that we can attain peace and unity. Its through appreciating our unique social norms and level of “conservativeness” that we engender tolerance,” the group said as they took turn in explaining their reflections.
“Ang kapayapaan na nasa inyo ay kapayapaan na nasa amin din,” (Peace with you is also peace unto us.) they added.
Moya, who have been espousing interfaith dialogues in Lanao del Norte, said, “its simply going back to our faith and reflecting from our Bible and Qur’an as sources of peace ideas. ”
“Many institutions have worked for peacebuilding and have developed several modules but forgot our Bible and Qur’an as wellspring of peace ideas and as instrument of conflict resolution and social reconciliation,” he added.
Maidy Lim from Volunteer Service Organization (VSO) further deepened these awareness in a workshop on constructive appreciation of faith’s diversity.
On July 28th, Ivy delos Santos of MinCode, facilitated the workshop on “the role of youths toward an inclusive society.”
In this session, participants drew their symbolic ideas of their roles. They asserted their need for education and development to be able to understand the roots of their issues and to maximize their voices to be acknowledged of their potentials for community peace and development.
Delos Santos further discussed on the roles of youths in politics through representation; in economy as young entrepreneurs; in the use of technology as communicators and savvy infotech subscribers; and, as social actors being advocates and agent for positive change.
In the afternoon, Antoniolito Estrella, organizational development advisor of VSO, lectured on strategic planning to equip youths of the capacity in organizational management.
Participants were organized per community to craft their plans and were expected to submit these on July 5 to Maradeca Inc.
Towards the evening, Lim introduced creative t-shirt painting workshop. The products became the participants souvenirs.
This week-long interfaith youth camp was initiated by Maradeca Inc. in partnership with AusAid, Pathways-iCOPE, DepEd, Plan International, Save the Children, and BALAY.