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A United Religions Initiative in South East Asia and the Paciﬁc
Vol. IV. No. 2 July - December 2009
URI Community Participates in the Parliament of World’s Religions 2009
The world’s biggest interfaith festival, the Parliament of the World’s Religions, was held in Melbourne, Australia from December 3-9, 2009. With the theme “Making a world of Di erence: Hearing Each Other, Healing the Earth ” it attracted over 4,000 people from an amazing variety of religious, spiritual as well as indigenous traditions. It hosted more than 500 programs including dialogues, workshops, symposia, cultural performances and exhibits. The delegates had a unique opportunity to expand their worldviews and learn from one another.
Marites Africa, a Trustee from the SEAPac Region shared about her interfaith work in the Philippines during the International Plenary and fellow Trustee Dr. Amir Farid Isahak facilitated several sessions.
URI SEAPac Welcomes New CCs
On December 2, COMMON CC and GreenFaith CC, the URI Cooperation Circles in Melbourne, hosted a welcome gathering at Jessiee Kaur Singh’s home for the URI members attending the Parliament. A bigger reception for URI members and friends was hosted at the Parliament venue on December 5 by URI Executive Director Rev. Charles Gibbs and The URI Southeast Asia and the Paci c (URI Global Council Chair Yoland Trevino. SEAPac) Regional Coordinator Shakun Vaswani facilitated URI hospitality and presence at the Delegates from many faiths and cultures Parliament. URI shared a booth courtesy of the interacted with URI’s presence at the Parliament Dharma Realm Buddhist Association. Over thirty and more bridges and friendships were built over presentations on di erent specializations related the course of the week-long event. Everyone went to interfaith dialogue, peacebuilding, home inspired with the hopes of fostering the cross-cultural cooperation, youth initiatives, and connection with new found friends who wish to spiritual practices were delivered by the URI work with URI in promoting a culture of peace. community members.
Mindanao Peace Garden
Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines
Higa-onon Ha Migsabuwa Ta Lanao
Iligan City, Philippines
Ranao Muslim-Christian Movement for Dialogue and Peace.
Iligan City, Philippines
As we draw 2009 to a close, we re ect on our strengths and challenges. When we look back, the URI SEAPac has grown from its humble beginnings and its birthing pains into a tree with many branches with its own unique fruits. With over twenty Cooperation Circles to date, URI SEAPac continues to envision a world without con ict through interfaith dialogue and cooperation. The region is proud to have launched its own peacebuilding projects like the workshops in Mindanao, where decades - long struggle for peace is still ongoing. Addressing this issue was also the pilot project of the URI Travelling Peace Academy in the Region. We are likewise proud to have co-hosted and represented URI during the recent Parliament of World’s Religions. In this issue of the URI SEAPac Newsletter, you will read about everyone’s work on the ground that makes impact on con ict prevention in the region. As we grow together in enriching our capacities and our strengths in various forms of peacebuilding work, let us continue to share our stories, experiences, and best practices. Salam to All! Musa Mohamad Sanguila
Peacemakers’ Circle and URI SEAPac Launch the Travelling Peace Academy in the Region
Last November 19-22, 2009 the Peacemakers’ Circle CC together with the URI SEAPac Regional O ce and Pakigdait CC hosted a workshop in Manila, Philippines entitled, "Engaging the Moral Imagination in Grassroots Interfaith Dialogue and Community-Building in Con ict Areas in Mindanao." The leadership workshop is part of the URI Travelling Peace Academy (TPA) program. The TPA is an initiative by the members of the URI Peacebuilding Satellite. The Satellite works with the URI President’s Council in developing and strengthening peacebuilding e orts through trainings and workshops for grassroots leaders around the world. Grassroots leaders who work with members of con ict-a ected communities in Mindanao Philippines—Lanao del Norte and Sur, Cotabato, Maguindanao, and Basilan were invited. The partner organizations represented in the workshop were: Pakigdait of Lanao del Norte, United Youth for Peace and Development, Bangsamoro Successor Generation Network-Lanao, Mindanao Dynamic Culture of Peace, Inc., Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Notre Dame Peace Center, Kauswagan Ulama Forum, Prelature of Marawi, United Youth of the Philippines, Kutawato Council for Justice and Peace and the Mindanao People’s Caucus. The workshop aimed to focus on building partnerships with Mindanao grassroots leaders and providing the basics on moral imagination approaches to interfaith dialogue and relationship-building. The organizers intend to build bridges of communication and partnerships in collaborative action for the upholding of human rights and the promotion of peace and development in Mindanao between participating grassroots leaders from the abovementioned con ict a ected areas and their peacebuilding counterparts in Metro Manila. Together they will serve as catalysts for change in their respective communities and form a network that will help build the foundations for grassroots-led vision in action, and bridging partnerships with leaders of various sectors of government and civil society in the National Capital Region. After the workshop, a public forum with 70 attendees from the media, government, civil society and the academe in interaction with the grassroots leaders was held. They discussed plans for a community based theater that tells stories of peace on the ground, an interfaith council and network working for the promotion of the MOA on Ancestral Domain, and initiatives for peaceful and clean elections in the Philippines this coming May 2010. Nur Damai CC from Malaysia was represented in the workshop-forum by its CC leader Padmini Solomon, who shared her knowledge about peace building and con ict resolution. Plans are ongoing about expanding the reach of the peacebuilding workshop to the rest of South East Asia and the Paci c Region.
Editor-in-Chief Managing Editor Publishers Contributors Shakuntala Vaswani Marites Guingona - Africa Musa Mohamad Sanguila Padmini Solomon Indra Udayana Jamel Kaur Singh Orlan de Guzman Jessiee Kaur Singh Sam An Ros Noemi Alindogan PK Moorthy Lanelio Sangcoan Design and Lay - Out Musa Mohamad Sanguila Shakuntala Vaswani United Religions Initiative SEAPac Regional O ce URI -SEAPac Peacemakers Circle CC Pakigdait CC Nur Damai CC Gandhi Puri Ashram CC GreenFaith Australia CC Peacemakers Circle CC Center for Melbrourne Multifaith and Others Network CC Interfaith Youth Circle Cambodia CC Mindanao Peace Garden CC INSaF CC Higa-onon Ti Magsabuwa Ta Lanao CC Sarah Queblatin
2009 INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE CELEBRATIONS
Kalinaw CC: September Declared as Interfaith Month in Cebu City
Through the initiative of the ten - member Interfaith Council of Cebu City (established earlier with the leadership of Kalinaw CC), the local government of Cebu City has declared the month of September each year as Peace and Interfaith Month. This is a great boost for interfaith bridge building in this predominantly Catholic City in the Philippines. Also, this year, as part of the celebrations of the International Day of Peace, the Kalinaw CC, in cooperation with the University of Cebu, organized on September 26 a Good Citizenship peace concert featuring neo-folk artist Joey Ayala. With over 5,000 students present this was the biggest gathering ever to celebrate this day of peace in Cebu.
Pakigdait CC: Peace through Ramadan Talk, Coastal Clean Up, and Community Celebrations
As part of the International Day of Peace celebrations Pakigdait joined the International Coastal Clean Up Campaign and together with the community members cleaned the coastal town of Kulambugan. On September 19, Musa Sanguila, a Muslim, shared about Ramadan and Fasting with the Tubod Catholic Priests of Lanao del Norte. During the Eid al-Fitr celebrations last September 20, they held their annual "Pagtagbo alang sa Kalinaw" (Meeting for Peace). The event gathered the Christian community to celebrate with the Muslims on the grounds of a Masjid. They invited people of di erent faiths, the Bishop of Lanao del Norte, and the Brigade Commander to give their messages of peace. The community's Muslim Youth performed traditional songs and dance. Christians in return gave owers to the Muslims and o ered tokens of friendship in the form of fruits during the program. Later they all ate together at one table lled with Maranao delicacies.
Peacemakers' Circle & URI-SEAP o ce: Peace Arts Mosaic
The Peacemakers Circle Foundation CC and the United Religions Initiative SEAPac Regional O ce partnered with lead convening organization, Generation Peace (GenPeace) youth network and its Peace NGO partners for the 2009 IDP. The Youth for Unity (Y4U) of the Peacemakers’ Circle led the interfaith prayers that set the mood for a contemplative celebration of peace. They also prepared copies of a mini brochure on the Ways of Peace for inner peace, harmony with others, and the healing of the earth to give away during the event. Youth from the CC’s four community partners joined the Peace Mosaic painting and installation with their message for Peace in con ict a ected Mindanao. The CC booth hosted a sacred space for meditation and re ection. Y4U created a labyrinth walk to encourage people to walk for inner peace.
InSaF CC: Multi-Faith Gathering Launches IDP
The Interfaith Spiritual Fellowship CC in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia celebrated the International Day of Peace with an o cial launch marking this UN Celebration as an annual celebration in Malaysia. Senator Kihilan Pillay, the Deputy Minister of Foreign A airs in Malaysia and the UNICEF representative graced the celebrations. Prayers from the di erent faith traditions - Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Sikh, Baha`i, and Indigenous Spirituality, along with a Universal Prayer were the highlight of the celebrations. This augurs well for interfaith relationships in the multi-cultural society of Malaysia. .
Gandhi Puri Ashram CC: Interfaith Activities for Peace
Gandhi Puri Ashram CC Celebrated the International Day of Peace with interfaith prayers and dialogue at a gathering of youths and community members. The activities included tree planting in the Mahatma Sacred Garden. A statue of Confucius was also installed in the compound. To entertain everyone, young dancers performed a Balinese dance.
Nur Damai CC: Film Showing and Discussion about Interfaith Dialogue
Nur Damai celebrated the UN International Day of Peace on Sunday, September 13th by showing a documentary lm “The Imam & the Pastor” which depicts the reconciliation between Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye, and the peace-making initiatives which have owed from it. The lm, narrated by Rageh Omaar, dramatizes their remarkable story. It showed the dynamics of forgiveness and challenges that arise in Christian-Muslim partnership and how they can be resolved. The invited audience of around 50 included some community, political leaders, and police personnel among others. Padmini Solomon, the CC leader, highlighted the vision of the URI in her address at the lm showing. Nur Damai also launched their website at the gathering.
COMMON CC: A Gathering on Sharing our Water Bohol Goodwill Volunteers CC: News Column Balitang Maayo Qnahanglan! (Good News is Needed!)
Boni Quirog, CC Leader of Bohol Goodwill Volunteers wrote a column, about the International Day of Peace on September 21 in the local paper The Bohol Chronicle. For the celebration, he said he would like to initiate that good news must be published so there will be lasting peace in all aspects - culture, economy, and politics. He also mentioned that the Bohol Goodwill Volunteers will be hosting the Interfaith Consumers’ Rights and Welfare Conference which is funded by the URI SEAPac’s Seed Grants Program. A public gathering for understanding the spiritual and scienti c principles of water in our lives was hosted by COMMON CC in Melbourne. Adults and children participated in a plenary, games, and discussions in understanding and taking action for water conservation in Australia. (Read the Report on CC News Section).
Read URI SEAPac’s Latest News on www.uriseap.ning.com
COOPERATION CIRCLE NEWS
Walking Humbly on the Murray: a GreenFaith CC Pre-Parliament Event
GreenFaith Australia CC hosted a Pre-Parliament of World’s Religions Event during November 26-29, 2009 with the support of the Victoria Multicultural Commission and URI SEAPac’s Seed Grants Program. The organizers engaged diﬀerent communities and environments within the south eastern Murray-Darling Basin in Victoria for the journey. Around one hundred participants from diﬀerent faiths experienced learning, friendship-building, celebration and awareness - rising about this ecologically imperilled, brave and beautiful part of Australia. One of the highlights of the journey was a visit to the Kinglake area where they witnessed the devastation and healing that was taking place after the Black Saturday Bushﬁres earlier in the year.
Peacemakers’ Circle: Reaching Out to Muslim Christian Peacemakers CC after Hurricane Ketsana
Marites Africa led the Peacemakers' Circle team to visit the grassroots community of Barangay 188 in Tala, Caloocan City where 447 families, mostly members of the Muslim-Christian Peacemakers Association CC, were displaced by Hurricane Ketsana (Local name: Typhoon Ondoy ) last September 26. They were shocked to see the extent of the devastation caused by the raging waters from the rising river that lashed through the community that fateful day. The destruction was cruel in the midst of utter poverty. Yet the people smiled, grateful for the visit; and the children traipsed around the muddy puddles as though nothing unfortunate had happened to them.
Pakigdait CC: Joining Hands with UN's ACT for PEACE, Addressing Climate Change, and Remembering the War of 2008
Pakigdait CC in Iligan City, Philippines has been actively working on peace building and sustainable rehabilitation for Muslim, Christian, and Lumad communities in Lanao Del Norte. Their current project is a partnership with the United Nations ACT for Peace Program. The partnership is working with 6 Barangays (small community units) under the UN Act for Peace Program. These are those that are part of peace and development communities identiﬁed by the Moro National Liberation Front and the Government of the Philippines who are mandated to rehabilitate the communities as part of their peace agreement. In 1996 after the signing of an agreement, they have also been guided by principles of faith in their negotiations. In several partner barangays, Pakigdait has been working on data gathering, establishing a pharmacy, mass feeding, disaster risk management workshop, livelihood programs for women, helping build ﬁsh cages for ﬁshermen, developing water systems, teaching simple bookkeeping, training coastal resource management, and establishing core shelters for 250 families. On August 18, they commemorated the 1st year remembrance of the atrocities in their communities which displaced hundreds of people (both Christians and Muslims), and left some as collateral damage of the ongoing war between the national government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Currently, eﬀorts are focused on developing peace and rehabilitation initiatives and in moving forward for sustainable development. Last October 10, as part of its monthly meeting for the interfaith council in Lanao, they had a Church-Masjid visitation for Muslims and Christians at Una Poona Piagapo where majority are Muslims. The place was a battle ground of the August 18, 2008 attacks.
URI friends around the world sent in donations through the URI Global Hub. These were used for purchasing sleeping mats, blankets, and towels for the victims in Barangay Tumana in Marikina City. The Peacemakers' Circle and friends conducted a relief mission in the ﬂood aﬀected community of Barangay 188 last October 2. Generous relief that were given contained canned sardines, rice, noodles, toiletries, biscuits, etc. Emotional Recovery sessions were conducted in partnership with Balay Rehabilitation Center who helped in addressing emotional problems of the community members who have been directly aﬀected by the ﬂoods. Future initiatives for recovery and healing of the community include more workshops on self development, relationship building, and a possible social entrepreneurship project.
Gandhi Puri Ashram: Promoting Peace through Cultural Events and Talks
*The Peacemakers’ Circle CC and the Muslim – Christian Peacemakers Association CC would like to thank the entire URI community for sharing their gifts of love and resources with the people of Tala and Tumana for their recovery and rehabilitation from the oods.
Last December 8-12, 2009, Gandhi Puri Ashram CC gathered the interfaith community in a program entitled, "Friendship through Culture and Peace." The event showcased di erent cultural traditions through performances such as folk contemporary dances, classical, and contemporary music. Activities also included academic seminars on Cultural Diversity and Community Dialogue and Peacebuilding. Through these, they were able to bring awareness on the rich, cultural diversity in the community and that they can unite in action for peace and harmony in Bali.
The beautiful Nagambie Lakes Park Resort which is bordered with the Goulburn River on one side and the Nagambie Lakes on the other side was the base camp for the journey. The theme of WATER, its signiﬁcance and importance in our lives and within our faiths were incorporated in the activities. The next two days engaged the participants on a spiritual, fun and educational journey through the towns of Shepparton, Echuca (Barmah Forest), Castlemaine and Bendigo where they had the opportunity to listen, learn and be with these communities; together enjoying Aboriginal ceremonies, interfaith dialogue and multicultural entertainment, sight seeing and ecological awareness raising along the way!
Sharing Our Water with COMMON CC
COMMON CC hosted a public event entitled, “Sharing our Water” at the Fitzroy Town Hall, Melbourne on the International Day of Peace on September 21. It was supported by the Victoria Multicultural Commission, Yarra City Council, URI-SEAPac seed Grant and many members of the community at large. The event was opened by Indigenous elder, Uncle Colin Hunter with a smoking ceremony and was followed by Multifaith presentations by various community representatives. Each faith made a blessing and presented a gift to the Wurrunjeri Community as the Kulin Nation custodians of Melbourne. Adult participants had a panel discussion addressing the spirituality of water from both the indigenous and deep ecological perspective. Indigenous elders described the process which Aboriginals have used to preserve the Barmah State Forrest.
Mindanao Peace Garden CC: Promoting URI in the City
The newly formed CC in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines is actively promoting interfaith dialogue. They have a weekly radio program DXKO, RPN based in Gusa, in Cagayan de Oro City in which URI and its principles are promoted. On November 26, 2009, they installed a Peace Pole at the Peace Park of Xavier University through the generosity of its donor, Okada Shunichi San and the support and cooperation of administrative oﬃcials of Xavier University. MAY PEACE PREVAIL IN MINDANAO!
Higa-onon Ha Migsabuwa Ta Lanao CC: Peace Festival with Tri-people of Mindanao
The Tri-People CC Higao-onon Ha Migsawbuwa Ta Lanao composed of the Higa-onon Indigenous Peoples (Lumads), Christian and Muslim supporters held the Kaamulan Peace Festival for Understanding last November 26 to December 3, 2009 at Rogonon, Iligan City, Lanao del Norte Philippines. The celebration was a gathering for understanding among faith and cultures to promote peace in Mindanao where con icts on ancestral domain have been ongoing for decades.
Overall the event sent these messages across: Water is sacred because it is intrinsically a part of the great sacred whole of Life itself; and in order to preserve water the nation should engage the innate ancient knowledge of the indigenous Aborigines. Other suggestions included: promoting awareness; supporting a national water charter adopting indigenous practices; diverting and recycling of water; changing water usage habits; reforestation, developing farming methods; and lobbying for stronger policies. The children participated in games and activities like Bollywood dancing and theatre that engaged learning about water. The event nished with a MultiFaith performance presented by Australian Interfaith and Multicultural Australian Ambassador, Dya Singh and family joined by Indigenous Elder, Uncle Reg Blow on the didgeridoo.
Mindanao Peace Garden CC: Engaging Young People in Peace Education
Mindanao Peace Garden CC from the Philippines joined URI last August 2009. One of their rst activities was to involve the youth in Interfaith Prayers and Dialogue at their Peace Garden. The event was attended by a number of Muslims, Christians and Baha’i youth. A representative of each of the three religions led prayers and later shared with the whole group their respective beliefs and practices. It was an uplifting experience for the participants.
Peacemakers' Y4U: Interfaith Encounter with German Youths of the Archdiocese of Hamburg
On August 22 about 25 German youths and representatives from the Archdiocese of Hamburg, along with their Filipino hosts from the Federation of Asian Bishops Conference (FABC) youth desk visited The Peacemakers' Circle (PCFI) o ce and had an interfaith encounter with 11 members of the Y4U (Youth for Unity) circle.
The CC has introduced the URI Principles in the course Gender and Peace Education at the Mindanao University of Science and Technology (MUST) in its ve classes with a total of 192 students. In celebration of the Mindanao Week of Peace, the CC involved students of the Gender and Peace Education classes at the university in a simple ceremony where students pledged what they can do for peace in their respective families and communities.
Starting o with interfaith prayers from representatives of di erent faiths, the session began with PCFI vice president and URI-SEAP regional coordinator, Shakun Vaswani, welcoming the young visitors to the intimate space and giving an introduction to PCFI and URI interfaith peacebuilding work. The PCFI documentary DVD “In the Light of the Crescent Moon,” a lm about relationship building between Christians and Muslims in Metro Manila, was then shown to give them further orientation and exposure to the work of The Peacemakers’ Circle. A dynamic dialogue among the youths followed.
Gandhi Puri Ashram CC: Dharma Ashram Retreat Program for Multi-Faith Youth
A retreat program for the youth was conducted from June to October, 2009 at the Gandhi Ashram to inspire them to live a spiritual way of life. More than 200 young adults bene ted from this transforming experience. The CC also held workshops on composting, tree planting, yoga, and meditation. Seminars on Peace and Terrorism, Peace and Education, Peace and Environment, and on Youth and HIV Aids were part of the program.
Interfaith Youth Circle of Cambodia CC: Planting Seeds of Peace
The Interfaith Youth of Cambodia CC organized an International Day of Peace activity at Chres secondary school located in Chres commune, Chantrea district and Svay Rieng province. Around 132 people - secondary school students, villagers, school teachers and Buddhist monks participated in the campaign. 210 tree seedlings were planted in the school compound and along the village road which they promise to nurture.
south east asia and the paci c
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“We must be the CHANGE we wish to see in the world.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
URI Community Participates in the Parliament of World’s Religions Peacemakers‘ Circle & URI SEAPac Launch Travelling Peace Academy in the Region International Day of Peace Events Cooperation Circle News from: Center for Melbourne Multifaith and Others Network (COMMON), Australia Gandhi Puri Ashram, Bali, Indonesia GreenFaith Australia, Australia Pakigdait, Philippines Peacemakers’ Circle, Philippines Nur Damai, Malaysia Mindanao Peace Garden, Philippines Higa-onon Ta Migsabuwa Ta Lanao, Philippines Youth Actions from: Youth for Unity, Philippines Interfaith Youth Circle, Cambodia Mindanao Peace Garden Philippines Gandhi Puri Ashram, Bali, Indonesia
The purpose of the UNITED RELIGIONS INITIATIVE is to promote enduring daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice, and healing for the Earth and all living beings.