Muslim and Christian Students in the Philippines Help Build Peace


Muslim and Christian Students in the Philippines Help Build Peace

08 Feb 2013

Against the backdrop of the recent release of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, Muslim and Christian students from Mindanao and Manila took part in an historic moment as they came together for the first time to discuss ways to move the peace agenda forward and bridge the divide between the two faiths.

Nine schools across the Philippines connected via video- conference to discuss peace building between the two faith communities, as part of our global education programme, Face to Faith.

By building understanding between students of different faiths, Face to Faith improves religious literacy and equips students with the knowledge and skills to resist extremist voices and religious prejudice.

Undersecretary of the office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Luisito Montalbo, led the discussion and stressed the need for the nation to unite in the pursuit of peace. He commended Face to Faith as an excellent programme that provides an avenue for cross-cultural conversation and "allows students to meet others from far areas through the use of technology."

Watch Undersecretary Luisito Montalbo's full contribution here:

Misunderstanding and ignorance about the Muslim and Christian faith were cited as barriers to peace during the discussion between the students. The video-conference ended on a very hopeful note with the students of different faiths recognising the urgent need to understand each other better. The students left energised to help make peace a reality by working together on the issue.

Muslim student, Fatima, from Ateneo de Zamboanga University High School said:

"During the video-conference the diversity of students participating was evident. There were students from Luzon, Visayas, and our very own Mindanao from Christian, Muslim, and other faith backgrounds. It occurred to be that we were in discussion with a kaleidoscope of religions and beliefs.

"But despite the existing differences among us we managed to share our own take on the issues the world faces today. I felt honored to be a part of something as significant as this. This experience ignited a part of me which I thought was lost, the part which longed for peace.

"I used to think that we, the youth of today, could no longer be considered the future of our nation. But of course, I was wrong. Right in front of my eyes was the people who had the ability to make a difference."

Paul, a Christian student from Xavier School, Manila said:

"It's really striking to realize that no matter what religion we are, we are still one nation, one community, and we should not let differences in religion get in the way of living in peace and harmony with one another."

The Philippines joined the Tony Blair Faith Foundation's education global education program, Face to Faith in August 2011. There are currently 32 schools signed up across the Philippines. Xavier school is the Lead school in the country led by Fr. Johnny Go, S.J. who is the Country Coordinator.

The schools took part to contribute to a series of sessions the Tony Blair Faith Foundation is organizing on conflict resolution. These important and ground-breaking discussions will made available as free educational resources to schools interested in fostering deeper levels of co-existence between their students.

Learn more about Face to Faith and follow them on Twitter @Face_to_Faith