Sunday, November 29, 2009

Conflicts Resolution and Hope For Reconciliation

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” -Jimi Hendrix

These past days, we have been hearing the names Ampatuans, Mangudadatu, Maguindanao, massacre, death everyday. I for one has been saturated of the gruesome pictures and this barbaric act. Sadly, this week is also the Celebration of Mindanao's Week of Peace, an annual event that highlights peace initiatives from all over the world. The event has been mired down by this event but the peace builders and advocates will not be hampered. This event showed us that in the process of conflict, there is hope for mediation and regaining strength to plant peace.

This year's PEACE ON TOUR has several workshop sessions to understand fully ourselves and how to deal with intra and interpersonal conflicts.

So yesterday, my office mates and I were invited to join sharing on personal conflicts and meeting a person living with HIV/AIDS at ALAGAD-Mindanao's office in Kamuning St., Juna Subdivision which incidentally is near the mansion of Mayor Andal Ampatuan.

The gates of the "one block" mansion of Mayor Andal Ampatuan, Sr. in Juna Subdivision

The Person living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) shared the struggle he faced when he was diagnosed by the said disease. Before sharing, the staff of ALAGAD Mindanao (an NGO advocating for health and stigma associated with HIV/AIDS) asked us to sign a confidentiality contract. It says we cannot disclose the description of our resource speaker ( a person with HIV/AIDS). We can share the experiences and draw out lessons from it but they asked us not to describe the face. Our resource speaker described how hard it was open up about the disease and his sexuality. He knows his parents would ask where possibly he acquired the virus and why he's been sick all the time. So he decided to come out and be clean despite his fear of his father and brother. Good for him, his family and close friends stood up for him. They are crucial support groups in his recovery. For persons living with HIV, the support groups are every important in order for them face the reality and even death, if it get worse.

Poster for the World's Aids Day Celebration on Dec.1.

Kuya Mike Mahinay, one of the counselors in Alagad shared that they have clients who are able to open up to their families about their diseases but up until now could not "come out." This is attributed to the macho values in a patriarchal society like ours. Family support is very important. They observed that those affected by HIV who's responding fast to the medicines are also the ones who has been open about their sexuality.

What's alarming during the sharing is the rise of bisexuals who are still afraid to "come out" and has heterosexual partners and the invisible line of risk to their respective partners. Looking also in gender relations, 40% of wives battered are at high risk of being transmitted with HIV/AIDS. Around 60% of wives economically dependent to their husbands are also at risk of being infected. Why? Women who are battered cannot say NO and negotiate in marital sex. And mostly of the cases of battered women, the husbands mostly engages in sex with other women. But no empirical data is available on this but this is a trend that's happening not only in the Philippines but in Asia.

It is also alarming that here in Davao City, the numbers are increasing for the youth (16-25) who are getting at risk of HIV/AIDS because of risky unprotected sex.

Poster raising awareness on sexuality and protected sex.

Gender-sensitivity is not the only part that we have to learn but alongside with it is reproductive rights. Sadly, we are still battling even to the passing of the Reproductive Health Bill.

After the activity, we have to proceed to conflict transformation workshop. We asked the boys to just hire a jeep. When they got back, they shared that when Manong Drayber asked them where he has to get the passengers, they told him, "Kamuning St. Manong, basta kanang duol sa balay ni Ampatuan!", Manong driver almost backed out. His afraid since the police and NBI has been patrolling the area, according to him.

So the next activity was conflict resolution in Shrine Hills, Matina, a place overlooking Davao Gulf. Just right place to keep you at peace. John Mark Cajiuat from Bread for the World facilitated the workshop. Pictures were placed on the floor and we were asked to take pictures that "talk to us", pictures that we can relate too. I choose a man holding .45mm pistol standing in a middle of thousand of other .45 pistols.

It reminded me of arms trade and warlodism that reigns in Maguindanao. With illegal and unregulated arms that is being made in the province, it makes the political clans invincible. As Dean Marvic Leonen on UP College of Law puts it in political equation 1: amount of insecurity is directly proportional to the number of bodyguards employed.
2: propensity for corruption is also directly proportional to the number of public officers serving as body guards.

This is true in the area. I don't know if the military or the Police has an exact number of bodyguards and "civilian volunteers" serving the Ampatuan family. Wherever they go, they have convoys! and since they are "CVOs", the government pays for it. It's the people's money, money from taxpayers like me! I was enraged during the discussion.

Then JM asked the group, particularly me, "Do you believe that reconciliation will be possible between the Ampatuans and Mangudadatus?"

Yes it is possible, I said. I am still hopeful that the two clans will reconcile, when both have already used up their resources and both are already powerless. And it is possible if the children from both families also take steps to reconcile their families.

I am still keeping my hopes.


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re: aids issue

i also received an info from a friend that one person we both know (but is not actually inside the circle) is aids +. he's from davao. it's sad. people's lifestyle has been contributing much to this epidemic.

anyway, spread the awareness, not the virus. nice post here, te maych. :)

May Che said...

thanks beans. The young professionals who incidentally are in their prime are at risk because of risky sexual behavior. I am not a moralist and judge people engaging in sex. That's a right but what we should really campaign for is protective sex and yes, fidelity! :)


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