Iftar: Sharing God, food, and selves to make peace PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 25 July 2014 12:00

Since 1998 Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) - and since 2002 together with the Interreligious Solidarity for Peace – has held an “iftar” (or “pagbukah” in Tausug) usually for and among the poor right in their own community during the Holy Month of Ramadan.  In some years, more than one such breaking-of-the-fast was conducted, often a special one for some communities’ youths, too.

Last Saturday (July 19), on the 23rd day of Ramadan that coincided on the Koranic “Night of Power”, such a pagbukah was held at the Zamboanga State College of Marine Sciences and Technology.  The venue was specially chosen to bring the interfaith experience to the internally displaced families of Rio Hondo (where the school is located) and the adjacent barangay of Mariki. Most of the Muslim and Badjao participants are still living in tortured conditions in evacuation centers, 10 months after the infamous MNLF siege of Zamboanga City, by which the now many-times fugitive rebel leader Misuari shall be judged by history and his own Moro people whom he has repeatedly abused (that is why the MILF broke away and many MNLF commanders deserted him in the past).

But the event was more than merely symbolic. ISP lead convenor Fr. Angel Calvo, CMF described it as a moment of spiritual union between God and the participants to form a “new family”. He said this union could counter the evils in society such as those that resulted from the wounds of conflict and hatred created by last year’s siege. All residents of the city and not only the direct victims, he noted, are wounded and require psycho-social healing.

Fr. Joel Malcampo delivered the message of newly-installed archbishop Romulo de la Cruz, D.D., who hoped that such healing will enable city residents to experience peace and joy in their heart.

Representing city mayor Ma. Isabel Climaco-Salazar, vice-mayor Cesar Iturralde likewise said the local government recently formed an interfaith council to hasten communal solidarity and healing as well, so the city would move towards a new era of peaceability. He hoped that the iftar shall inspire people to “bounce back” through constant intercultural dialogue.

The keynote speaker was National Commission on Muslim Filipi9nos regional director Macderul Sangkula. Among the groups represented by their respective delegations were Muslim Students Associations of local schools, Samabadjao councils, Golden Crescent Affiliates of Peace-Builders, Muslim and Christian religious organizations like the Zamboanga City Ministers Fellowship, barangay councils of Recodo, Arena Blanco, Rio Hondo and Mariki, the city’s archdiocese, Task Force Zamboanga and the AFP’s Western Mindanao Command, and urban poor groups affiliated with Zamboanga-Basilan Integrated Development Assistance, Inc. (ZABIDA). Host ZSCMST vice-president Jaime Jalon gave the welcome remarks.  Special guest Alba Guerrero of Spanish NGO Dream Tellers also graced the event.

In his explanatory remarks, ISP Muslim convenor Prof. Ali Yacub revealed that on Ramadan’s Night of Power, Allah sends down to Earth his angels to cleanse the world of all evils. Would, Fr. Calvo responded, that those angels joined and blessed Saturday’s iftar to renew or restore peace and solidarity in the hearts of those who heeded the call and came to share of themselves. — Peace Advocates Zamboanga