GenPeace North Luzon Peace and Human Rights Caravan
GenPeace North Luzon Peace and Human Rights Caravan
Last July 26, 2008 the Generation Peace Network (GenPeace) started its North Luzon Peace and Human Rights Caravan – a project that aims to increase the youth’s awareness on the 1) concepts and dynamics of peace and conflict; 2) the fundamental rights of Filipino youth, and the local and international instruments protecting it, and; 3) youth peace initiatives in the Philippines. The caravan also encourages the different youth organizations to include the peace dimension in their youth projects.
The caravan left Manila at 5:00 am for San Jose, Tarlac, a place that witnessed countless cases of armed conflict between the government military forces and the communist armed group, New People’s Army (NPA). San Jose is now a peace zone.
In San Jose, and in all places covered by our caravan, the GenPeace Team facilitated a Peace and Human Rights Training which include workshops on 1) Fundamentals of Peace and Conflict; 2) Basic Concept of Human Rights and CARHRIHL (Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law); 3) Local and International Youth Peace Initiatives; 4) Major Conflict in the Philippines with focus on the conflict on CPP-NPA-NDF front (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front); and 5) Conflict Resolution Strategies with focus on Nonviolent Approaches.
The San Jose training was attended by 52 representatives from Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) and various student and church organizations. Few minutes after we started the training, we were surprised to see uniformed personnel from the Philippine Army approached our venue, some of them even carrying arms. They said they wanted to observe and be part of our activity, they even took pictures of us while facilitating the workshop. There were at least 6 members of the army who took turns in observing our activity from start to finish. We ended our activity with an initial planning session in connection with the various peace activities of the municipality especially on the celebration of the peace month on September.
On the next day, July 27, we traveled to the province of Nueva Vizcaya for the second leg of our caravan. From Tarlac, it took us 7 hours to reach Nueva Vizcaya State University in Bayombong. Student leaders from different universities of the province attended the training which started on July 28 and ended on July 29. Since environmental issues are one of the concerns of this province, we added Peace and Environment in our training module facilitated by a representative from Youth for Sustainable Development Association (YSDA).
Our workshop in Nueva Vizcaya was enriched by the discussions and sharing from our student participants of around 50 students coming from diverse political and ethno-linguistic backgrounds. After the workshops, the participants came up with concrete plans on how to integrate peace in the framework of their projects.
From Nueva Vizcaya, we headed to Sagada in Mountain Province on the 30th of July for our planning. On our way to Sagada, we passed by Banawe, the place of the majestic rice terraces, one of the UNESCO heritage sites in the country. We also passed by a mountain range, which according to our contact is considered a “red area” because of cases of ambush and killings that occurred in the area. After 8 hours of traveling, we finally reached Sagada, also considered a peace zone. A curfew is being observed in the locality, establishments close and all people must no longer roam around the place by 9 o’clock at night. We then decided to do our work in the evening and our exploration in the morning.
During our planning sessions, we did an analysis of what we have been doing as a network of youth peace advocates, we re-examined our thrusts and attempted to clear some pressing issues about our network. This exercise helped us in planning for future activities of GenPeace.
In Sagada, we were able to visit some places of interest like the Burial Caves with hanging coffins and Sumaguing Cave which was really a challenge to explore, we went down the cave through its slippery and sharp stones, with bats flying over us; we were amazed by what we saw inside, a river surrounded by different rock formations. It is very cold inside the cave and in the underground river but the view is exhilarating.
We left Sagada on August 1 for our caravan’s last leg: Baguio City. On our way to Baguio, we had lunch at Mount Data Hotel, a historical place where a peace agreement was signed. It was in this place where the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) during the administration of President Cory Aquino signed a peace agreement with the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA) headed then by an ex-catholic priest, commonly known as Fr. Balweg.
On August 2, we facilitated the Baguio Peace and Human Rights Workshop attended by 30 Sangguniang Kabataan leaders at the Baguio City Hall. On the following day, most of our team members facilitated the last of the workshops of the peace caravan together with PeaceTech. This final workshop had 30 young participants coming from different religions and cultural traditions.
GenPeace would like to thank the following:
GenPeace Caravan Team
Jana Gallardo – Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Celine Hiwatig – Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Mon – Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Ellis Gil G. Luciano – Institute of Reconciliation
Beverly Orozco – Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute
Wilson Requez – Sulong CARHRIHL
Rechie Tugawin – Natioanal Anti-Poverty Commission – Youth Sector
Jaymelyn Nikkie T. Uy – Center for Peace Education
Meghann Aurea V. Villanueva – Pax Christi Youth Group
Eriza – Sulong CARHRIHL volunteer
Jayrol – Brotherhood of Destiny
Nikki Al Ben Delfin – Gaston Z. Ortigas Peace Institute
SK – San Jose
Methodist Church – San Jose
San Jose, Tarlac Peace Zone Convenors
Nueva Vizcaya State University
Youth for Sustainable Development Association
SK – Baguio City
GZO Peace Institute
Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Department of Agriculture (BAR)
NAPC – YS
GenPeace would like to thank YOU for supporting the North Luzon Peace and Human Rights Caravan.