By: DLS Pineda (FSUU)
The Father Saturnino Urios University (FSUU) successfully held its Mindanao Peace Studies Conference with the able assistance of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH through the Conflict Sensitive Resource and Asset Management (COSERAM) Program on November 22-23, 2016 at the FSUU Main Campus. Being on its second installment, the conference operated with the theme, Peace & Development: Expanding Spaces for Peace and Development.
The two-day event began with the Junior Scholars’ Forum wherein first-time presenters discussed their peacebuilding ideas. In the words of Fr. Randy Odchigue, FSUU’s Vice President for Academic Affairs and Research, these papers were “no less significant or formidable as the ones presenting on the second day.”
In the afternoon, simultaneous programs were held, both focusing on the life and struggles of the indigenous peoples of Caraga. In the College Building East-Function Hall, a roundtable discussion was held; in the College Building South-Haggenburg Hall, a cultural workshop with members of the Manobo and Lapaknon groups. The medium of communication in these events was Bisaya so that the community present would be one with marginalized voices of the IP who, for the most part, took the helm of the discussions. The organizers considered this as one of the lessons learned from the conference’s first installment.
On the second day, in eight simultaneous plenary sessions, presenters discussed multiple approaches to the problem of peace in Mindanao. Topics ranged from political, economic, theological, engineering, media practices, and cultural learnings.
A total of 34 papers were delivered by speakers coming from different parts of Luzon and Mindanao. For the first time since its conception, this year’s conference also featured for its plenary speaker a resource person from overseas, Mr. Felipe Montoya, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of VallenPaz, a private corporation directly involved in peacebuilding efforts in Colombia. Attorney Michelle Angelica D. Go, incumbent Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), joined Mr. Montoya as one of the event’s plenary speaker.
The Mindanao Peace Studies Conference II closed with the first showing of The Crossing, a full-length musical recounting the life and struggles of Fr. Saturnino Urios, S.J. Not to be regarded as a mere practice of recounting the past, the play also discussed modern day resource-based conflicts through its protagonists, FSUU pupils Satur and Niña.