Thousands of individuals participated during the Grand Opening parade of the Mindanao Week of Peace which commenced early this morning, November 24. The Mindanao Week Of Peace formally opened with about 3km-hike which started from Sta. Maria Elementary School up to the Pasonanca Boys Scout Camp.
Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) Vice President, Dr. Grace J. Rebollos gave a brief history of the humble beginning of the Mindanao Week of Peace which started in 1997 in Zamboanga City spearheaded by PAZ and SALAAM, which later on adopted by the Bishop-Ulama Conference and brought to Malacañang Palace.
MWOP was signed by former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada but was formally turned into a Presidential Proclamation No.127, s.2001 by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on November 3, 2000 which declares the last Thursday of November up to the first Wednesday of December as the Mindanao Week Of Peace celebration, not only celebrated in Zamboanga City but around Mindanao and even at other areas in the country.
With the theme, “Healing for Personal and Social Transformation”, Fr. Angel C. Calvo, Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) President and Interreligious Solidarity for Peace, Lead convener noted that over the two decades of Week of Peace celebration since 1997, the peace advocates have continuously called for a unity in the midst of the differences, justice for those whose rights were disregarded and taken away, recognition and honor for the pains of those who have been damaged by a variety of current and historical forms of violence, and forgiveness for our own offenses against each other that continue to divide as a community, as a nation, and as a people. “It is as basic as our survival as human beings. It is as sublime as our noble destiny as children of a Divine Creator who keeps assuring us of the gifts of mercy and peace,” Fr. Calvo read in the ISP statement.
“Once more, as we mark the 19th year of the Week of Peace celebration we make the urgent call for healing and reconciliation…. now more than ever!” Fr. Calvo expressed.
The brief program ended with a symbolic releasing of the white doves and balloons while the Youth Solidarity for Peace and MWOP’16 volunteers and participants joined the flash mob.
The participants came from various institutions from the Non-Government Organizations, Civil Society Organizations, Schools, from Secondary, Colleges and Universities, Barangay Local Government Units, Government offices, and different sectors from women, children, urban poor settlers, indigenous peoples, security and many others.