ILIGAN CITY – In celebration of the season of hope, love and peace, the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), partnered with Duyog Marawi, to spread the spirit of Christmas to the communities of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the Islamic City of Marawi, December 16-17.
With the theme “Puso at Kapayapaan: Magbigayan at Magmahalan”, OPAPP serenaded the IDPs with Christmas carols while the children in return sang their own renditions of ‘Awit sa Marawi’. The kids also engaged themselves on warm-up activities such as dancing along with the ‘Baby Shark’ and ‘Chicken Dance’ songs, coloring activities, and peace lectures.
During her welcome remarks on the first day of the activity, OPAPP Undersecretary and Executive Director Diosita Andot expressed her delight on the opportunity of going back and giving joy, especially to the children residing in the evacuation centers.
‘Ang gusto namin lang po talaga ay marinig at maramdaman niyo kung gaano namin kayo kamahal. yung pagmamahal na iyon, matagal na po ito – simula pa lang noong nangyari (ang gulo) sa Marawi,” Andot shared. (What we would really like, is for you to hear and feel how much we love you. That love has been there, ever since the crisis in Marawi began.)
James Alih T. Abdul of OPAPP’s Early Recovery and Rehabilitation Project, said that there’s a lesson in seeing the kids in harmony with each other.
“Kung nakikita niyo sila, masaya sila, lahat nakangiti at wala silang nakikitang divide. Kristiyano, Muslim, Katutubo – pantay sa kanilang mga paningin. Sana yung mga magulang ay tularan ang kanilang mga anak para tayo ay masaya at patuloy mamuhay ng payapa,” expressed Abdul. (If you observe them, they’re happy, all are smiling and they see no divide. Christians, Muslims, Indigenous People – in their eyes, all are equal. My wish is for their parents to be more like their children, so that all of us can be joyful, and can continue to live in peace with each other.)
For the most part, the IDPs and volunteers conveyed their gratitude to OPAPP’s initiatives.
“Napaka-gandang umpisa nito sa mga IDPs para ma-feel nila na laging may gumagabay sa kanila, nagmamahal at makalimutan nila ng panandalian ‘yung nangyaring sakuna sa kanila. Karamihan sa kanila wala talagang dala-dala, pero ‘yung activities dito parang nanunumbalik ‘yung kung ano ‘yung ginagawa nila bago mangyari ‘yung sa Marawi,” said Apipa Cabaro, a member of the Mindanao People’s Peace Movement and a volunteer on the said activity.
(This is a good start for the IDPs to feel that there will always be someone who will guide and love them, and that they have an avenue to temporarily forget what happened to them in Marawi. Most of them have nothing when they fled their city, but the activities here somehow brought them back to what they used to do before the siege occurred.)
Alana Manta, 50, also showed her amusement on the activities conducted, citing for example that she also danced along the children’s songs.
“Malaking tulong ‘to lalo na sa anak ko para pansamantala niyang makalimutan ‘yung nangyari sa Marawi siege. Ayaw ko na makita niya akong malungkot, pero ‘di siya magsasawa na ipaalala na ang importante, magkakasama kami. Kumpleto kami ng pamilya ko,” she said. (This is a big help especially to my child so she can temporarily forget what happened in Marawi. She doesn’t want to see me sad, but she never cease to remind me that what is important is that we are all together. Our family is complete)
“Huwag tayong mawalan ng pag-asa. Magkaisa tayo, magtulungan tayo at panatilihin natin ang kapayapaan, even kung nandoon pa rin tayo sa mga evacuation camps. Maraming-maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat again, and Merry Merry Christmas!” Andot appealed in her closing remarks. (Don’t lose hope. Let us be united, help each other and maintain the peace, even if you are still living in the evacuation camps. Thank you very much and Merry Merry Christmas!)
Hundreds of knapsacks containing school supplies, lunch kit, and candies were repacked and distributed by OPAPP family to the temporary residents of Buru-un School of Fisheries, Sta. Elena Evacuation Center and home-based shelters at Barangay Upper Hinaplanon, in addition to the simultaneous activities also conducted at Kiwalan 5A and Kiwalan RC.
This activity is part of OPAPP’s early recovery and rehabilitation project for IDPs. Under OPAPP’s Social Healing and Peace Building program, the activity is in line with the religious and cultural practices capacitating leaders in promoting peace in various localities.