“A simple advocacy of yours will change you and mold you to become a better person, better leader and better citizen of this country. And if you are really determined, your advocacy can change and affect other people’s lives and it will surely last a lifetime. It could make you a hero that will change the world.”
These were the words of a 15-year old Muslim student, Rhegynna Mustapha, from Notre Dame-RVM College of Cotabato, when asked what she had gained from the Peace Camp follow-up workshop organized by the Communication Foundation for Asia on May 8-9, 2013. The event provided the follow-up and reaffirmation of the advocacy commitment of 39 high school students from Metro Manila and Cotabato City, forged the previous year, during the May 2012 Peace Camp.
CFA conducted the workshop with the view that young people need to have modern-day heroes not only among the leaders in various fields of society, but also heroes from their own ranks. The strategy therefore was to create opportunities for young people to learn about nationalism, solidarity, unity and cooperation alongside peers from other regions and religions.
The May 2013 follow-up workshop reunited the Christian, Muslim and Lumad participants of the CFA Peace Camp the previous year, rekindling friendships and reinvigorating their advocacy for peace. The two-day workshop focused on the use of art, photography and video to create messages of peace. Peace and environment advocate and artist A.G. Saño told his personal story on how he uses art for his advocacy work on environmental protection and peace. He presented images of his murals across the country, encouraging fellow Filipinos to spread images of sea creatures and of Filipinos working hand-in-hand for peace. He encouraged the participants to use their creativity through a collage-making activity to portray their own message of peace.
Following that creative session was another image creation workshop in photography and video-making, facilitated by CFA’s Fr. Stephen Cuyos, MSC. Fr. Stephen used basic rules in photography to explain harmony, unity and cooperation in daily living, connecting the way we capture images in the way we see the world. He explained that each image we make can create stories and elicit responses. The participants then proceeded to create images depicting peace, harmony and love using their camera. They later edited these photographs to create their own peace videos.
Reinvigorated by the media workshops and discussions, the campers again planned their peace activities for the schoolyear ahead. They planned to organize exhibits, film viewings, art contests and other activities to rally their schoolmates to become heroes for peace.
In an evaluation after the event, they promised to continue to show respect and cooperate with others, even those from other religions, to demonstrate that people can build a nation together. As Rhegynna realized during the workshop, many other students shared the same conviction that any small contribution to peace can make a big difference. Everyone can be a hero for peace, one just needs to be open to work with all, with no exception, and respect differences to achieve one main goal: Build one nation in peace!
CFA is now preparing the output from this workshop and from the 2012 Peace Camp to be put together in a traveling exhibit and a final video documentary. These will make the round of schools and other institutions nationwide during the last quarter of 2013.