Peace Run Embraced in Muslim areas

Picong, Lanao del Sur (27 August 2011) — Maranao residents came out in droves to welcome the 48-person contingent of the Run for Peace and Solidarity for Mindanao as the epic run from Zamboanga to Cotabato passed through municipalities dotting the coast of Zamboanga del Sur and Lanao del Sur on its 7th and 8th days.

During the first 6 days, the runners passed through Christian-dominated areas in the Zamboanga Sibugay.

Even hundreds of elementary and high school students and their teachers lined up the national highway under the searing heat on a weekend waving flags, brandishing posters echoing the Peace Run’s call for a peaceful negotiated settlement to the conflict in Mindanao. Children also wrote letters and cards for the runners expressing their hopes and dreams of peace in Mindanao.

“Even when we experience war, we should still seek to achieve peace”, read one poster from the Sultan Ali Dimaporo Memorial Integrated School. The now familiar chant of “Peace in Mindanao, Now Na” and its variants, “Kalinaw Sa Mindanao, Karon Na”, “Kalilintad sa Mindanao, Imanto din!” rang among the ranks of the students as the runners passed by.

In Tukuran municipality where the runners made a brief stop Saturday and inter-acted with students of JH Cerilles State College. Addressing the runners and organizers of the run, Municipal Administrative Officer Isaias E. Amparado, told the impromptu forum: “In all of my 43 years in Mindanao, I have never internalized what peace means until today when you came.”

The runners stayed overnight at Sultan Naga Dimaporo municipality where another interaction with local councilors transpired in the evening after supper.

“Pipila lang mo, pero sa inyong gihimo, bisan ang akong apo na nagatulog ron maka tagamtam ug maka angkon sa inyong paghago (You are just a few, but with what you have done, even my grandchild who is now sound asleep will reap and own the fruits of your work)”, said Councilor Raminito Lumayaga.

Questions about the objectives of the run, who is funding the activity, and even whether or not the organizers are going to organize themselves into a party-list surfaced in the series of interactions. The run is spearheaded by the Mindanao Peaceweavers (MPW)- the broadest network of peace advocates for Mindanao and features runners mostly from the Visayas belonging to the Bisayang Dako Alang sa Kalinaw (Genuine Visayans for Peace) or BISDAK.

The run will end in Cotabato City on 31st August after covering a total of 452 kilometers. The runners have so far done 300 kilometers.

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