PLANTING THE SEEDS OF PEACE IN THE PHILIPPINESNovember 11 – 14, 2003 | The Century Plaza Hotel & Spa, Los Angeles, California, USA
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Asalam…… Good morning everyone. First of all, I would like to express my sincere thanks for your taking interest in this session. Everyday, we see a lot of bad news on television, read discouraging news in the papers. Not many people take interest in learning about the good news much more taking part in creating the good news. I am very honored to represent the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and my Foundation, the Philippine Business for Social Progress. If I have my way, I would want to bring all of you to Mindanao so that you will see that there are some good things that are happening in the heart land of Mindanao. But I know that is impossible so I hope the video helped. Now, let me outline to you some key points I have learned as I went through in creating the story you have witnessed. First, I learned that a clear sense of vision and mission helps clarify and purify intentions. Modesty aside, I was not born poor, but by some destined events in my younger days, I lived with the “subjects” of my father. Consequently, I have seen the glaring divide that separated the Muslim nobilities from the common Muslim families. But I protested the norms where leadership of the ruling class put their interest over the most basic concerns of those in poverty. As my father’s successor --- I vowed to use the influence of my family to make a difference in our community because I was tired of seeing the same vicious cycle of violence. I wanted to try something new because the traditional Muslim way of leading our people was not working, it worked for the elite Muslim families and the politicians but it never worked for the people. Second, I learned that in fulfilling my mission to BRIDGE the economic, social and political divide among the tri-peoples in the Philippines, I knew I had to change the rules of the game.
- When the convention dictates that the Datus – or members of the royal families --- are the only people who can make sound decision for the people, I encourage dialogue and consensus among the local folks. By doing so, we shared the accountability to make things work for all of us.
- Muslim culture is basically very exclusive. I challenged that by bringing everyone’s concern on the table … the government, the military, the religious leaders, the rebels and even the lawless element because I believe that what each of what its groups says is of great value.
- We often had difficulty welcoming new ideas and new ways. We didn’t want outsiders in our territory but again, this system then did not work for us. Therefore, I invited NGO’s and the Academe to work with us so that we can learn how to invest in our future through trainings, skills building, values formation and education. We built partnerships with as many groups as possible to hasten the progress we deserve.