PAX GANERN! Project takes off

[PHOTO: A student of MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology in the recent RMP-NMR-initiated exposure program in Lumad communities. In the current 'Pax Ganern!’ initiative, RMP-NMR is actively mobilizing the youth to take part in the current peace process by mainstreaming their voices and emphasizing the kind of peace that they want.]


In time of the Mindanao Week of Peace, the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Sub-Region (RMP-NMR Inc) announced today the launching the project entitled, ‘Pax Ganern!: Mindanao Interfaith Youth Initiatives for a Just and Lasting Peace.’

The project, supported by the World Association for Christian Communication and the Bread for the World, seeks to address the problem of the youth’s disinterest in the peace negotiations in the country. The project title, ‘Pax Ganern!, is taken from the term popularized by a Philippine noon time show. It is like an exclamation of affirmation to something just said or done. RMP-NMR tweaked the ‘pak’ to ‘pax’ (peace) ganern (a reinvention of the word ‘ganun’ which is ‘like that’).

“We believe that there is a disinterest because of a lack of in-depth knowledge about the conditions even in their immediate society. Mainstream media and its sensational reportage of events have contributed largely to this lack of in-depth knowledge,” said Ailene Villarosa, advocacy officer for RMP-NMR. “We want to address this through media literacy and interpersonal discussions among youth communities.”

“For so long, media gatekeeping has been defined by commercial purposes. Social media have started to challenge the traditional information gatekeepers as well as the traditional notions of credibility.  While there are negative effects on society’s interaction and the forming of identities and culture, these channels have also been considered as venues to challenge hegemonic control over information and knowledge formation,” Villarosa added.

The one-year project aims to improve media literacy of the youth to contribute to the peace initiatives in the country. In particular, it aims to create online and offline platforms for the youth to support the Peace Talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPh) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

At the end of the project, it is expected that there is an increased participation of the youth to the peace process. “We are aiming for an increased number of young journalists and members of youth organizations adhere to the standards of peace journalism; that there is an increased visibility of the youth’s voices and campaigns supporting the peace process; and that there is a dynamic exchange of ideas among the involved youth both on-line and offline,” Villarosa said.

Activities of the project include peace camps that will gather members of interfaith youth networks for discussions, media literacy skills trainings, peace exhibits, mobile school for peace, community immersions and photo researches.

RMP-NMR partners with various youth and student organizations in this undertaking such as the Liga ng Kabataang Moro, Student Christian Movement of the Philippines, Panalipdan Youth Mindanao, Kalasag sa Tribu, Youth Alliance for Peace, and the College Editors Guild of the Philippines in Mindanao, among others.

Proclamation No. 127 signed by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on November 26, 2001 declares the last Thursday of November up to the first Wednesday of December of every year thereafter as Mindanao Week of Peace.

“This initiative is one of the many humble contributions of RMP-NMR in support of the on-going peace negotiations between the GPh and the NDFP. We want to mobilize the youth, the main beneficiaries of the peace talks, to take part in the peace process by mainstreaming their voices and emphasizing the kind of peace that they want,” Villarosa concludes.###