PEACE HERO IN FOCUS (JUDE VILLARUZ):The journey of an artist towards being a peace facilitator
The journey of each volunteer is what makes the Teach Peace Build Peace Movement a success. Everyone in the organization has the heart for peacebuilding – a recipe that makes up a true peace hero.
Jude Villaruz started as an Artist for Peace. His first experience as a facilitator was with the Civil Military Operations School Philippine Army. This is where he became more interested in volunteering for the organization. Jude shares, “Before, I did not know about TPBPM’s sessions and initiatives in the communities in Mindanao and Porac. I was surprised to know about it and I appreciated TPBPM more after that. It just proves that TPBPM has the commitment to children, teachers, and parents.”
It has also become an avenue for him to meet more volunteers. “I was surprised to know that there are so many volunteers and that inspired me – seeing them doing really well as facilitators, and they all inspired me to do more.”
Jude’s unforgettable moment as a facilitator was in Sapang Uwak, Porac, Pampanga where TPBPM conducted Peace Education Sessions for five consecutive Saturdays. Jude interacted with the children apart from being heading the logistics of the program. The Peace Mission in Sapang Uwak had different sessions for the children including interactive Peace Games, sessions about cultivating inner peace, and recognizing one’s ability for Peace Building, among many others.
One of the challenges of facilitators in the community of Sapang Uwak is that the children are not eager to participate in activities because they are shy. They still had to be convinced to participate. “I have seen the changes from them being so shy. Now, they’re the ones chasing us. They even want to answer first during activities.” It was a complete change from how it was before. The children became more comfortable with the I TEACH PEACE Facilitators and started to treat them as their Ates and Kuyas.
“What changed me was the challenges I saw in the community which I also experienced before. It made me embrace the community more because seeing the children improve is worth it.”
The Schools and Communities of Peace Heroes Formation Program (SCPHFP) aim to not just institutionalize Peace Education in schools and communities but also address different types of conflicts that the children are exposed to. In communities like Sapang Uwak, children are exposed to discrimination which hampers their confidence and ability to express themselves. The interactive Peace Activities are an avenue for them to take pride in their culture and live in a peaceful Aeta community. This changed how Jude sees the mission of TPBPM and how the SCPHFP contributed to the improvement of the children.
“Before I am not deeply connected to the mission of the organization. But now, I think I matured a lot. I became more proactive and I developed my inner peace. I now appreciate what other people do for me, especially those who encourage me in TPBPM.”
It was a hard, yet temporary goodbye for the children of Sapang Uwak during the last day of the Peace Education Sessions. But the facilitators assured them that they will come back to the community and will continue to guide them in their journey as Peace Heroes.
At the heart of every selfless volunteer is the commitment to lend a hand. From being an Artist for Peace to becoming an I TEACH PEACE Facilitator, Jude’s journey is a story of a volunteer who has the heart that seeks growth, who sees every challenge worth pursuing, especially if it is for peace.
Micah is one of the Program Associates of the Teach Peace Build Peace Movement.