Torch parade caps Week of Peace celebration; 10,000 join PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 08 December 2012 14:28

Some 10,000 students, teachers, government personnel, soldiers, policemen, urban poor, civil society members, religious leaders, and others took part in a torch parade Wednesday (December 5) night to ceremonially cap this year’s Week of Peace celebration.

The parade has been a tradition in Zamboanga City’s observance of the advocacy event, which this year is its 15th year.

Many bearing gas-lit torches, the march started at 5:30 P.M. from the Joaquin Enriquez Jr. Memorial Sports Complex, passed along the picturesque R.T. Lim Boulevard and Christmas-lit City Hall and other downtown landmarks, and ended at Paseo del Mar.  Seven drum and bugle corps provided a lively beat to the march.

The torch parade, as with most of the other Week’s events, was spearheaded by the Inter-Religious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRSMP), headed by its Muslim,
Evangelicals, indigenous people and R. Catholic convenors, namely Prof. Ali Yacub, Atty. Paul Ersando, Nulhamdo Cegales and Fr. Angel Calvo, respectively.

A short program and concert was held at the Paseo. During the program, Fr. Calvo read the closing statement of the movement.
Peace, Forward!

The 15th annual celebration of the Week of Peace in Zamboanga City –and the 13th Mindanao-wide – this year of 2012 has been a showcase of events that proves that our sincere, serious and long-searching peace-making advocacies have now overcome many odds and challenges.

When the IRSMP conducted the Peace Forum on the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) on November 24, it was in fact to celebrate the fruits of our joint  years-long efforts with other civil society groups for both government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to agree on a peaceful settlement of the Bangsamoro rebellion, as they have done with the FAB.  And so we paid tribute and honor to both the government and MILF negotiating panels in this year’s Peaceweaver Awards, one of the other highlights of the celebration.

This year’s opening day parade participation reached an unprecedented 40,000 people, another indication of both the achievement of our advocacy as well as the deep longing for peace in our broken, imperfect society.  It is an aspiration shared by the youths, when the students of six Claret schools of Basilan and Quezon City together with the city’s held a 3-day peace camp here and capped it by marching in the parade. We thank all those who walked the talk by joining the parade.

Other highlights are the Wall of Peace mural painting, for which we thank the Philippine Air Force, Rotary Club  of Zamboanga, and Department of Education; panel discussion on “Islam Yesterday and Today” by the Golden Crescent Consortium of Peace Builders & Affiliates; our Historical and Solidarity Journey with the culturally-diverse community of Recodo led by the barangay council and Jabu-Jabu group, for which we thank them; recognition Youth Solidarity for Peace Day; medical mission in consonance with the Young Muslim Professionals Movement; jail visitation by the United Church of Christ; and several school-based assemblies conducted by the YSP, US Alumni Ambassadors of Peace, Leadership Academy Class 2012 of Western Mindanao State University, and the public high schools of Sangali and Recodo.   Again, thank you all.

We likewise thank the city government of Zamboanga, Department of Interior and Local Government city office, Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines, Commissions on Higher Education, Civil Service and Human Rights, Muslim organizations like the Philippine Ahlul-Bayt Foundation for their valuable support and participation.

In solidarity activism with fellow civil societies in Mindanao, too, the IRSMP convenors and some officers attended the first Mindanao Peaceweavers Coalition general assembly held in Davao on December 3 to 4.

The Bangsasomo framework agreement and its all-important remaining work are both opportunity and challenge in the months and years ahead for the government and MILF principals and stakeholders like the civil societies in Mindanao. With FAB and the Mindanao Peace’s Peace Agenda that we in Mindanao Peaceweavers have forged and pitched to the government of President Aquino, we shall with strong heart continue to overcome, to break the structural and practical barriers to peace. As this year’s celebration theme says, let’s soldier happily “Towards Sustainable Peace in Mindanao”.

This is our journey of hope – in many yesterdays, today, and more, more tomorrows.” — Peace Advocates Zamboanga