Regatta de Paz exhorts peace, unity and progress PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 10 December 2013 10:12

As part of the culmination activities of the Mindanao's Week of Peace 2013 Celebration in our city, sail boats or vintas sailed along the shore of RT Lim Boulevard last December 4 to exhort messages of peace, peace and progress.  It encouraged everyone especially our city’s residents to move on, at the same time, displayed to our city’s visitors to anticipate a better Zamboanga City. The event was organized by the Interreligious Solidarity Movement (ISP) in coordination with the Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ).

Dubbed “Regatta de Paz” (Boats of Peace), twenty vintas festooned with “peace sails” – banners with the word “peace” written in different languages and dialects sailed. It replaced momentarily the traditional multi-colored sails one can see in colorful vintas.  The vintas were manned by Badjao evacuees whose lives were greatly affected by the Zamboanga September siege.

Guest speaker and Zamboanga District-2 City Councilor VP Elago, in behalf of our city government, encouraged the audience to love and take care of Zamboanga City as everybody, whether Muslims, Christians, Lumads, and other indigenous groups (even people from other places if I may add) are treated equally. No one is discriminated in this city because of his or her culture and religion.

Councilor Elago briefly traced the city’s beginnings, saying that its original residents were Sama, Badjao and Subanon peoples. When Muslim preachers came followed by Christian settlers including Spaniards, they intermarried with the natives, such that native Zamboanguenos have Sama and Subanon blood, too, in their veins, he said. Mayor Beng Climaco-Salazar, whom he represented, had a meeting with Pres. Benigno Aquino that day to finalize plans for the rehabilitation of Zamboanga City.

Fr. Angel Calvo, ISP lead convenor, who was also in Manila, was represented by PAZ executive secretary Sr. Emma I. Delgado.  She said the regatta expresses the peace advocates appeal to “give life back” to the vintas of the Badjaos. Their numerous vintas have been parked as if lifeless along the boulevard, the men refusing to go out to fish for their livelihood, and most families relying on relief food and assistance from government. The regatta program, she remarked, is held amid the squalor of the evacuation center and is a reminder that the city must help the Badjaos to “sail” towards a new peace and better life. The violence, the crisis that they will symbolically leave behind must never be allowed to happen again. The conflict will not happen again only if city residents will work for authentic peace, where all peoples treat one another with respect and fairness, Sr. Delgado said.

Evangelical pastor Pablo Palis also gave a message on behalf of their fellowships’ convenor Atty. Paulino Ersando. He stressed the need for active love, hope and unity as the driving forces that foster peace in society.

Dr. Talib Pendatun, president of the Philippine Council of Samas and Badjaos, said the central role given to Badjaos in the regatta culminating program is highly fitting, since his tribe is known for their love for peace and their peaceful way of life. He also urged all residents to work for peace, to support the local leadership to rebuild the city. Let us all, residents of the city regardless of their faith or political creeds, sail forward towards that peace and progress of the city, Dr. Pendatun said. The Youth Solidarity for Peace also led a prayer for communal peace. The event ended with the release to fly away of “peace doves”.

By Dante Corteza

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14