Posted by Shawn McElroy on behalf of Loreta Navarro Castro, Center for peace education, Miriam College, Quezon City, Philippines
My November 2009 began in an upbeat mood. I attended two successive conferences in South Korea in the early part of the month. The first conference focused on promoting interfaith understanding and the need to establish a Peace Education Center that can serve not only Korea but the Asian region as well. The second conference considered various themes (restorative justice, evaluation, conflict resolution education and peace education) and several members of the GPPAC Peace Education Working Group served as resource persons. (GPPAC stands for Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict). The full week in Korea was a happy time for me because both the conferences and the Peace Education Working Group meeting at the end of that week yielded fruitful results.
My hopeful mood continued when I returned to the Philippines. We conducted a Peace Education Training Workshop for Educators in South East Asia. There were 26 participants from seven countries in the region, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar/Burma, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
Five ministries of education were represented and this augurs well for the future mainstreaming of peace education in the region. However, as the said participants were arriving in the Philippines, a gruesome crime was being committed in the Maguindanao province in the Southern Philippines. At least 57 civilians were massacred in the morning of November 23, an incident that is now etched in our nation’s memory as the most brutal politically motivated violence committed in the country. The massacre truly shocked and saddened us. (I prepared the draft of a Statement which was adopted as the official Miriam College Statement. Please see it below)
As the end of November approached, one thing became clear. The barbaric violence turned into a wake up call or a moment of awakening for the whole nation. There are now countless voices of protest, asking for an end to political warlordism, private armies, and the proliferation or firearms, as well as for the respect of human rights and the rule of law.
I hope that this dark November day would not be in vain. May it yield the kind of light that we seek, so that such an event will not happen again!