Artists, footballers bring peace message to North Cotabato folk
ALEOSAN, North Cotabato— These peace ambassadors brought music and football to this northern Mindanao town that has seen strife and destruction for years and now hangs on to the promise of peace brought by the peace framework agreement forged by the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“Our biggest roles as peace ambassadors is to [ingrain] peace as an everyday thought in the minds of everyone,” said actor Jeffrey “Epy” Quizon in a press conference here.
Quizon, singer Ebe Dancel, members of the Azkal Football team and the Philippine Malditas, and “King of Moro Music” Datu Khomeini Bansuan came to Aleosan as part of the government’s effort to bring an understanding of the recently signed agreement to the communities.
Aleosan was among the first towns sieged by an MILF breakaway group led by Ameril Umra Kato in 2008 following the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain that was scuttled after it was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
The 2008 attacks left scores of people dead and injured, and displaced half a million people from their homes.
Dancel, the former front man of the band Sugarfree, said one of the most effective ways to promote peace was through music. He and Datu Khomeini, a local star in Mindanao, are set to collaborate on a song.
Datu Khomeini himself has begun recording a song with Philippine-born Allan Pineda Lindo aka apl.de.ap of the Grammy Award-winning Black Eyed Peas.
Apl.de.ap is among the peace ambassadors of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Opapp), most of whom are celebrities who share their time and talent for free to help the government reach as many people as it could in an effort to promote peace in strife-torn regions, particularly in Mindanao.
Among the Opapp peace messengers are Christian Bautista, Gerald Anderson, Gloc 9, Karylle, Anne Curtis, Rovilson Fernandez, Megan Young and Mikael Daez.
Opapp spokesperson Polly Cunanan said the artists were helping the government spread the peace message through their music and other talents. The office is coming up with an album containing songs for peace by its ambassadors.
At Aleosan’s covered court Monday, more than a hundred people of all ages, Muslims and Christians alike, gathered for Opapp’s medical mission and feeding program. Quizon described the event as a sharing of a feast of one people.
“After 40 years, we can now smell real peace. I hope the framework agreement will be the road toward lasting peace.” said Quizon, son of the late comedy king Dolphy.
“To live in peace is a right of everybody,” he added.
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