PASAY CITY—A series of peacebuilding efforts in the Philippines commenced with the 1st National Peace Convention held on January 25, 2023. The theme, “Peace Builds One Nation, One Future: Peace is Here” brought together over 1,500 peace advocates working towards national unity in consonance with the Marcos Administration’s agenda.
Dr. Ronald Adamat, Commissioner of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), Founding Chairman of Volunteer Individuals for Peace (VIP), and first Filipino recipient of the prestigious Mahatma MK Gandhi Prize for Non-Violent Peace, spearheaded the event.
“We want peace to reign in our country. We want peace to be the language everyone of us will speak and every Filipino and every foreigner will understand,” said Dr. Adamat.
In attendance was also Chairman Lee Man-hee of Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), a 92-year old Korean war veteran visiting the Philippines for the 11th time.
“Peacebuilding in Mindanao after conflict is becoming known worldwide. This is the case of transforming death into life for peace. Starting with Mindanao and the Philippines, when we unite in love, peace will come to our world. For this reason, everyone in the Philippines has to become one and work together as messengers of peace,” said Chairman Lee.
The two advocates first met during the 2017 HWPL World Peace Summit in South Korea, signing a Memorandum of Agreement in 2018 to integrate peace education into higher education curricula.
The convention included a Plenary Session followed by parallel sessions for five sector groups—lawmakers and non-government organizations, academe and youth, religious and ethnic groups, women, and media—drafting a resolution in solidarity for peace. A second session called for President Bongbong Marcos to proclaim January 24th as ‘National Peace Day’ or “Truce Day”.
January 24th was proposed in commemoration of a civilian-led peace agreement mediated by Chairman Lee and signed at General Santos City in 2014, to peacefully resolve the existing conflict in Mindanao. The date was declared as ‘HWPL Peace Day’ in 2015 and 2016.
January 24th marked another special event this year as a peace monument was unveiled at Plaza Asuncion in Malate supporting cessation of war and adherence to peace, the first to be established at the national capital and regional center. The project was led by the Rotary Club of Manila Metro (RCMM) in collaboration with HWPL.
“As I have toured the world 32 times and talked about the cessation of war, we have to leave a land of peace as a legacy for the future generation, and this country, the Philippines, is showing this. Let’s do everything we can to do the work of peace,” HWPL Chairman Lee Man-hee shared.
This landmark is also an expression of support for the “Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War” (DPCW), drafted by international law experts advocating peacebuilding efforts by citizens and governments. The DPCW supports the President’s Executive Order No. 70, institutionalizing the whole-of-nation approach to attaining sustainable peace.
A resolution to support DPCW was signed and adopted by the City Council of Manila on December 20, 2022. The turn-over of this document was held before the peace monument was unveiled.
Manila Vice Mayor John Marvin Nieto expressed support sharing, “The city government of Manila is advocating peaceful resolution in every concern of our citizens… We are one with you in promoting peace. Without peace, we will never attain the levels of trust, cooperation and inclusiveness which are essential for all of us… Let peace reign in our society.”
Further efforts took place on January 26th, Bangsamoro Foundation Day, through the We Are One Music Peace Festival held at the Cotabato State University (CSU) Gymnasium. Around 3,000 students from different schools attended to call for the cessation of wars around the world including Ukraine and Russia.
Guest performers included famous YouTuber, Mikey Bustos and Korean ‘oppa’ singers Aiden and Jin. Bangsamoro youth also sang along with Samraida, “Queen of Moro Songs”, Nisha Bedaña of Idol Philippines, and local bands, The Genremen Band and The Hauz Band.
“I was here before, and we walked together with students for peace. Let us all become peace messengers. So, let’s achieve peace without war in our time and make it a legacy for future generations,” said Chairman Lee of HWPL.
This event was organized by Kutawato Greenland Initiatives, with participation by peace partners HWPL, International Women’s Peace Group (IWPG), International Peace Youth Group (IPYG), VIP, BARMM Government, City Government of Cotabato and SPIN Media PH. The peace festivities culminated in an HWPL-VIP Peace Monument being established on CSU grounds the following day.
After several peace-building events in the Philippines, peace advocates believe that the declaration of National Peace Day shall be the mechanism by which every year, peace-related activities are observed and celebrated across the country.