Throughout the Convention program, leaders from all sectors of society – politicians, religious leaders of all faiths, social activists, and NGO leaders – brought their passion and expertise to bear in addressing a wide variety of social issues. Participants engaged in various sessions, panels, and workshops focused on the three pillars of the Global Peace Foundation vision – interfaith, family, and service. One panel focused on interfaith cooperation as a foundation for addressing social issues such as poverty and education. Another session featured experts on disaster relief, an issue still fresh in the minds of Filipinos as Typhoon Mirinae struck the islands just one month earlier.
A powerful panel of leaders kicked off the convention, beginning with Mr. Jun Palafox, noted architect and Chairman of the Global Peace Convention (GPC) Philippines Organizing Committee, who welcomed the delegates to Manila. Also on the panel was Dr. Robert A. Schuller, American evangelist and author, who emphasized that peace can come when people remember that they are fundamentally spiritual beings. Dr. Markandey Rai of UN-HABITAT reminded the audience of the depth and power of the vision of “One Family under God,” saying that if everyone could see humanity as one family, human rights would never be violated. Dr. Young Sun Song, a member of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea, praised the vision and work of the Global Peace Foundation in addressing these problems, saying, “Here is a lighthouse providing the direction and motivation toward peace.”
The Founder and Chairman of the Global Peace Foundation, Dr. Hyun Jin Moon, thanked all those gathered for their peace-building efforts around the world. He emphasized the historic significance of the convention, saying, “Our deliberations here in the convention and, more importantly, our collective determination and actions for peace, which will surely follow, may well determine the future course of peace for our entire world community for the next millennium.” He charged all those gathered to bring the vision and model of the Global Peace Festival back to their respective nations in the coming year of 2010.
The Mindanao Peace Initiative
The convention also highlighted the Mindanao Peace Initiative (MinPI), a grassroots project focused on educating the youth of Mindanao, Philippines for peace and interreligious understanding. Coming on the heels of the recent atrocities in Maguindanao, this initiative was especially well-received at the convention. Dr. Estrella Abid-Babano, a regional director in the Philippine Department of Education, is a key leader in MinPI. At the convention, she stressed that parents must teach peace in the home and that parents’ cooperation is essential to promoting peace and harmony in Mindanao. MinPI is inspiring the children of Mindanao to become peacemakers through peace education and the Peace Village. The Peace Village, a project of MinPI in collaboration with the Department of Education, provides a safe haven for Muslim, Christian, and indigenous children to experience living together as one family while taking part in peace education. For more information on MinPI, go to www.minpi.info.
On the morning of December 14, 134 of the dignitaries and leaders who had attended the convention boarded a plane to Mindanao to participate in a tour of the island and to observe the activities of the Mindanao Peace Initiative (MinPI). They attended a Global Peace Festival held at the Mindanao Civic Center in Tubod, Lanao del Norte. The brilliant colors and powerful music of the various tribal dances filled the stadium, and 2300 children awed the audience as they danced in perfect unison. The celebrations were topped off by live performances from Philippine R&B artists Jay-R and Kris Lawrence. Thousands of children streamed across the field to the stage and lifted their voices, shouting, “Peace!” and “One Family under God!”
A Global Service Corps
The convention was also the launching site of a global service initiative called the Global Peace Service Alliance (GPSA) – an international network of service, volunteer, and charity organizations under the umbrella of the Global Peace Foundation. GPSA announced new partnerships at the convention, including with Usher’s New Look Foundation, founded by the R&B artist Usher.
One conference session was devoted to showcasing a wide range of opportunities for using service as a means for social change and conflict resolution. IBM-Philippines presented the concept of a corporate service corps that mobilizes business leaders who can contribute to the international service movement. Dr. Markandey Rai, chief of Global Parliamentarians at UN-HABITAT announced the partnership of UN-HABITAT and GPSA and presented the work they have initiated in Kenya. Dr. Manu Chandaria, founder and chairman of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, emphasized the need for the private sector to contribute to this service movement. Shawn Wilson, president of Usher’s New Look Foundation announced his partnership with GPSA and called for the engagement of youth through their talents in music, dance, video production, and other arts.
“This is not about one nation simply sending their volunteers to another nation, like Americans sending their people out to work for another nation. It is about nations and organizations coming together and sending their people to work alongside those volunteers and organizations from other nations, races, and religions to serve local issues and resolve them,” said Rev. Paul Murray, Deputy Director of the Global Peace Service Alliance. “We look forward to hearing about the progress of this initiative and hopefully volunteers and service organizations from the Philippines can play a major role and work side by side with those of other backgrounds to build peace through the culture of service.”
***The Global Peace Festival Foundation was renamed Global Peace Foundation in November, 2012