Zambo sails to new peace, progress, Regatta de Esperanza exhorts folks PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 05 December 2013 11:34

The city government looks upon and treats equally all Muslim, indigenous and Christian residents, they should love the city because it is their home.

This was the main message of Councilor VP Elago during the Regatta de Esperanza program, which marked the closing of the Week of Peace 2013 celebration in the city, on Wednesday, December 4.

Twenty vintas festooned with “peace sails” – banners with the word “peace” written in different languages and dialects – instead of the boat’s traditional colorful sails made up the fluvial parade at the R.T. Lim Boulevard.  All of the bancas were manned by Badjao evacuees, of whom many families are evacuees at the boulevard since the start of the September siege of the city by MNLF rebels.

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. Elago represented Mayor Beng Climaco-Salazar, who he said, was meeting with Pres. Aquino on the same day to finalize plans for the rehabilitation of Zamboanga, especially the barangays where some 10,000 houses were burned down during the fighting between the MNLF rebels and government troops.

Speaking on behalf of Interreligious Solidarity Movement (ISP) lead convenor Fr. Angel Calvo, CMF, who was also in Manila, Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) executive secretary Sr. Emma 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, 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, acted as master of ceremony and also gave a message.  He 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”. — Peace Advocates Zamboanga