Brgy. Bagua Mother, Cotabato City—Muslims, Christians, and indigenous peoples (IP) gathered to witness the Unveiling Ceremony of the Peace Monument last July 19, 2021. The monument was established as a historic marker symbolizing coexistence and harmony in the community.
The 4-decades-long armed conflict between the Moros and the Philippine government in Mindanao resulting in more than 120,000 casualties reflects to the necessity of bringing peace in the region.
The peace monument was initiated by an international peace organization named Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL) in partnership with Kutawato Greenland Initiatives (KGI), International Peace Youth Group (IPYG) and Societal Adolescent-Youth Alliance (SAYA).
The unveiled monument is the third HWPL peace monument in Mindanao. The first peace monument was erected in Buluan, Maguindanao in 2015 and the second was erected in MILF’s Camp Darapanan, Sultan Kudarat on 2016.
According to Danilo Mocsin, Chairman of KGI, Purok Tongkie, Brgy. Bagua Mother has been specifically chosen for the location for monument as it was a ‘notorious’ and ‘critical’ place before
“In order to sustain peace, we need to have a marker which will be a guide for the next generation. Also, the peace monument will strengthen the unity and harmony among Muslims, Christians and indigenous people living in one community,” he said.
Former MILF and MNLF combatants have expressed support by decommissioning their old guns to be repurposed as part of the peace monument. The melted weapons were used in the map which signifies ‘the world full of armed conflicts is now being changed into a world of peaceful coexistence.’
“Mindanao used to be very chaotic. I saw how they tortured the Moros here in Mindanao,” Abdul Karim Mangilay, a former MILF combatant, narrated his experience during the Mindanao conflict in an interview.
He added, “We are very happy because we are seeing a peaceful landmark here in our area. Therefore, this will help the people of Bangsamoro to embrace peace here in our place”.
Andy Mohammad, a former MNLF combatant, said, “Whether Muslim or Christian, I will support them for peace”.
In his speech, Abdul Rauf Lumabao, Chairperson of SAYA, encouraged the youth to participate in peacebuilding activities. “This peace monument really symbolizes that we have come this far and we no longer want violence,” he added.
Leaders of Islam, Christianity and indigenous people gave messages of support for the establishment of the peace monument and the peace movement in Cotabato City, followed by cultural dance presentations from Tiduray and Badjao tribes.
The program concluded with the acceptance message from Hon. Graham Nazer G. Dumama, Vice Mayor of Cotabato City and the singing of “Awit ng Cotabato”. The participants released doves while singing the community song as a symbol of spreading peace in the community.
HWPL is an international NGO committed to the achievement of world peace and cessation of war. HWPL’s peace movement in Mindanao started when its founding Chairman, Man Hee Lee, visited the region to mediate between the Islamic and Catholic communities. On January 24, 2014, a private peace agreement was made between the two religious communities represented by Archbishop Fernando R. Capalla and Hon. Esmael G. Mangudadatu, the then Governor of Maguindanao.