Interfaith camp opens initiative on media literacy, peace advocacy among youth

11 February 2016, Malaybalay City—An interfaith youth peace camp that started yesterday and will run up to Monday opens an initiative in Northern Mindanao to spread media literacy and peace advocacy among the youth.

The camp, held at Umanika Eco-Cultural Farm and titled “#PeaceGoals”, is attended by various youth organizations and individuals from interfaith communities of Northern Mindanao.

“The participants can help reach a wider audience in making them understand what the conflict is about and why there is a need for peace talks,” said Vennel Francis Chenfoo, secretary general of Panalipdan Mindanao Youth in northern Mindanao. “We want the youth, especially the students from urban communities, to understand the situation of the communities that are directly affected by the conflict.”

“We conceptualized the camp when the Peace Talks between the Philippine Government and the National Democratic Front were still contemplating on going back to the negotiating table,” said Ailene Villarosa, advocacy officer for the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Sub-Region (RMP-NMR).

“So much has happened between the conceptualization and the implementation. Now, we believe, it is more than just relevant with the breakdown in the peace talks and the declaration of an all-out war,” she continued.

Raymond Palatino, who served two terms in the House of Representatives for the Kabataan Youth Partylist and the current editor for Southeast Asia of Global Voices, gave an input on the social realities of the Philippines, contextualizing the existence of the armed conflict. The topic on peace talks and the current issues during the Duterte Administration was also given, this time by Amirah Lidasan, convenor of the Sandugo Alliance and the national chairperson of Suara Bangsamoro.

The peace camp is organized by the RMP-NMR, in cooperation with various youth organizations in the region such as Panalipdan Mindanao Youth, Liga ng Kabataang Moro, and the Cagayan de Oro-based all-women artists’ collective, Arkadia, among others. It aims at drawing together the different peace aspirations of the youth to create a network that would support a just and lasting peace in the country.

The camp is a component of the ‘Pax Ganern’ Project implemented by RMP-NMR and supported by the World Association for Christian Communication. The entire Project aims at promoting media literacy among the youth, especially focused on advocating for peace journalism.###