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My friends, Ms. Zaynab Ampatuan, A moro-leaders, Ms. Yvonne V. Saliling, an Igorot Woman-leader, My self (wearing a cap) with an old Manobo Woman during our Community Integration

"Kalilintad" is a Maguindanaoan word for "Peace". I would like to identify myself as a "Bangsamoro Woman" because I was born and grew up in Mindanao. One of the three major Islands in the Philippines. It has been called as the land of promise because of its bountiful natural resources, unique culture and practices, and the existence of the Indigenous People, the Moro and the Christian Settlers--co-existing in an environment where there is sincere understanding and sharing.

I am not a Moro woman but I grew up with my Moro friends in a Muslim community. That is the very reason why I love them so much. We shared many wonderful memories as children of Mindanao. I could still remember how I sneaked out of our home just to spent a night with them. We spent our childhood days exposed to our unique yet diverse culture. I could still recall how I have waited for that sumptuous "Tinagtag", a Maguindanaoan sweet delicacy served during special occasions, to be cooked and my friend's Mother would serve it for us. When I finished my Bachelor's degree and exposed my self to serving different communities, it was then that I realized how time and circumstances changed the social landscapes of the once peaceful communities in Mindanao.

The different forms and faces of violence and human rights violations in our place encouraged and motivated me to reach out and serve the people through my advocacy on Human Rights, Gender and Development and Peace. My childhood friend is currently our Executive Director and we share the same passion for working with the people in our project communities. Although we have diverse backgrounds and cultural practices but we do share a common vision and that is--genuine Peace and Development.

We do have our own struggles and hopes for Mindanao. We have been crying for peace and justice because beyond this Conflict and War---are innocent women and children who became the victims. Gone now are the days where children from different tribes share their stories, hopes and dreams to each other. Gone now are the days where festivities in Midanao are being genuinely shared by the Christians, the Indigenous and the Moro people...

I do not believe that Peace is just an elusive dream...Peace is our guiding principle and value in creating and bringing back that innocence in us to share and understand one another......

An interview with a Manobo woman during our community integration
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