Congregations based here in Samar convened representatives of the women and youth sectors from various parts of the island on 25 September as part of the series of activities in line with the celebration of the National Peace Consciousness Month.

The Samar Island Women Action Network (SWAN) for Peace and Development on Monday conducted a forum that discussed the issues being faced by Samar women and proposed recommendations on how the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) – in upholding the principles of National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security (NAPWPS) – can help alleviate their struggles.

Amongst the challenges raised were livelihood opportunities and their funding, lack of access roads, child labor, disaster preparedness, security vulnerabilities and lack of health facilities on far-flung areas.

SWAN President Myra Tambor expressed her gratitude that OPAPP considered Samar as the fourth stop for their ‘Peace Buzz’, a symbolic caravan that travels on different areas from Luzon to Mindanao to advocate the culture of peace.

Ang maganda sa congress na ‘to, sila [women] mismo dito sa community sector ang nag-identify ng mga problema nila. ‘Yong pag-identify ng issues nila na hihingan ng solusyon mula sa OPPAP at marinig ni Secretary [Dureza], malaking bagay na po ‘yon sa’min,” Tambor said.

In addition to women empowerment, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Jesus Dureza also acknowledged on his keynote message the vital role of youth on the peace process and implementation.

“‘Yong beneficiaries, ang makaka-enjoy ng trabaho natin ngayon for peace ay ang mga kabataan. The reason why involved kayo [youth], ay dahil kaming mga matatanda na are like old dogs who are difficult to learn new tricks. Kaya napaka-halaga na ‘yong mga kabataan natin will really work for your own future, especially for peace,” Secretary Dureza stated.

The women and youth forums had a total of 118 and 110 participants respectively from 15 municipalities of Samar Island. The two groups were merged for an oath-taking ceremony as Peace Ambassadors on the latter part of the program, led by Miss World Philippines Top 10 and Peace Ambassadress Cristina Marie Coloma.