For the Love of Peace and Nature
“Ano ang kapayapaan para sa’yo?” (What is peace for you?)
This is how our birthday celebrant, Cristina, viewed peace before she started participating in Teach Peace Build Peace Movement (TPBPM). She just turned 15 years old last 21 April, our first day of Peace Mission in Porac, Pampanga. Cristina has been with TPBPM for almost three years when she became one of our Peace Heroes Child Ambassadors and I must say, she still has that unique view of what peace is.
I was expecting her to answer that peace is about non-violence and reconciliation, but Cristina surprised me with her notion of peace. For her, peace is related to happiness.
More than that, Cristina also knows that peace is related to our environment. Cristina hopes that the people in her community, Sapang Uwak, will unite and keep the environment clean. When asked for her message to her fellow youth who are interested in peace, she reiterated the importance of keeping the environment clean. She shared, “Sana, gusto kong kami yung maglilinis, kahit hindi mga barangay. Gusto kong kasama ko mga kabarkada ko, kami maglilinis sa aming barangay.” (I wish that we would be the one cleaning, and not just the people from the barangay. I want to be with my friends when we clean our barangay.)
Having studied peace during college, Cristina reminded me of the different perspectives about peace, and how it comes in various forms. Peace can be found not only in people but also in nature.
A good example are the Aetas in Porac, Pampanga who were affected by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991. Now, Sapang Uwak hosts PEACE KAMP (Pinatubo Eco Adventure & Cultural Enclave, Katutubong Anak ng Mt. Pinatubo), which welcomes people to experience outdoor survival packages, guided by the Aetas themselves. It hopes to empower the locals by sharing their skills and talents while keeping the environment free of conflict.
As mentioned by Conca, Carius and Dabelko (n.d.), “As a peacemaking tool, the environment offers some useful – perhaps even unique – qualities that lend themselves to building peace and transforming conflict: environmental challenges ignore political boundaries, require a long-term perspective, encourage local and nongovernmental participation, and extend community building beyond polarizing economic linkages.”
Even United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who acknowledges the indispensable relationship of environment and insecurity, has called for integrating relevant environmental factors in U.N.’s conflict prevention strategy. Cristina might only have a slight idea about the impact of thes environment in peacebuilding but soon, she will realize that her small gestures of taking care of the environment plays a big role in her peace journey.
Our little ball of sunshine continues participating in TPBPM with the hope of discovering and learning more about the organization.
“Ano ‘yong birthday wish mo?” (What’s your birthday wish?)
“Wish ko sana pong tuloy-tuloy ang aking pagsasayaw, at gusto ko pong palagi kayong (TPBPM) pumupunta dito. Gusto kong makasama ko kayong lahat. Gusto kong walang nag-aaway at walang gulo po. ” (My wish is to continue dancing, and I want you (TPBPM) to keep going here. I want to be with all of you. I hope there will be no fighting and disorder.)
Angelica, fondly called Ange, is an educator, writer, and photographer. Long before she was an advocate of better education as she began teaching in a scholarship foundation in which she also came from, Tulong Dunong, with the age of 15. She has developed her passion for teaching and community development. She pursued a degree in International Studies track in International Politics minor in Peace Studies in Miriam College, and now studying at the University of the Philippines for Certificate in Professional Education. Ange has been a volunteer of various NGOs and groups that center on peace, education, women’s rights and gender equality, and good governance. She was Miriam College’s Sanggunian ng mga Mag-aaral ng Miriam SY 2015-2016 President and has received Meritorious Leadership awardee for the said position. Currently, she is working as a content writer-researcher in a tech solutions company and student affairs professional in a university in Quezon City.