Archbishop Ledesma Lauds Success of 2nd CFA Peace Camp

MAY 20TH 2009

Archbishop Antonio Ledesma of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines –Episcopal Commission on Inter-religious Dialogue expressed his appreciation for the successful conclusion of the 2nd Peace Camp of the Communication Foundation for Asia (CFA), which was held from April 27 – May 2, 2009.

In his short message before the 50 Muslim and Christian participants to the CFA Peace Camp during their seminar on Peace Initiatives, Bishop Ledesma emphasized that their enthusiasm in the camp’s activities is already a big step toward achieving lasting peace. “This is a way to induce young people – the future leaders of our country – to become capable of doing dialogue, understanding, and listening to each other…I think it’s also a good learning experience for (the CFA Peace Camp participants), living and working together, because they begin to see the common humanity of everyone,” he stated.

The participants managed to find that common humanity in the CFA Peace Camp after barriers of misunderstanding were broken down. Ma. Nica Aple Hernandez, a Christian student from Culiat High School, was among those participants who started out having negative impressions about her Muslim counterparts. She admitted, “Dati, pag napupunta kami sa kung saan-saan at nakakakita po kami ng Muslim, natatakot po ako. Sa tingin ko po salbahe (sila) dahil sa mga naririnig at napapanood ko sa TV tungkol sa mga Abu Sayyaf (Previously whenever we went places and we encountered a Muslim, I’d be afraid. I thought they were bad people because of what I’d heard or seen on TV about the Abu Sayyaf).”

From among the Muslim participants, Abdulhamid Bin Siradj Abantas had his own initial impressions of the Christians. “Mayayabang po (ang mga Kristiyano) tapos po mapang-api (The Christians are haughty and they oppress us),” he noted.

As the CFA Peace Camp drew to a close, the participants took to heart the commonalities between Christians and Muslims, as well as the similarities in their respective hopes, dreams, and aspirations. A tearful Joy Ann Lamar from Taguig National High School capped her memories of the peace camp with her own realization. “Ang mga masasabi ko lang po sa mga Muslim, sorry kasi gano’n ang paniniwala ko sa inyo dati. Nung sumali ako (sa CFA Peace Camp), nag-iba ang pananaw ko (What I can say to the Muslims is that I’m sorry that I had the wrong impressions of you. When I joined the CFA Peace Camp, my outlook changed).”