A Special Course Rich in Relevance | April 27, 2011

The Philippine summer is already upon us in spite of the fact that April has been a very “wet” month here in Zamboanga City, rather than the dry and hot month it normally is.

The year 2011 marks the 25th offering of the Silsilah Summer Course which over the years has seen a modification.

The first time the course was offered in 1987, out of the downtown office of the Silsilah Dialogue Institute, it was a single course focused on Muslim-Christian Dialogue. Named the Silsilah Basic Course on Muslim-Christian dialogue, it gave participants from the two faith communities more knowledge about Islam and Christianity, in the firm belief that knowledge led to better understanding and thus, more harmonious interactions between Muslims and Christians.

The month-long course was very well received and to accommodate interested individuals who could not stay for a whole month to attend the course, a telescoped version was designed. The shorter week-long course, named the Intensive Course, covered essentially the same topic areas but did not include certain activities.

A third course was eventually added, this one covering a week-long seminar on a topic related to dialogue and the quest for peace in the world and particularly in Mindanao. This is now referred to as the Silsilah Special Course. The Basic Course, the Intensive Course and the Special Course now constitute the Silsilah Summer Program.

The Basic Course reels off on Monday, April 25, 2011 and will run till May 20. This will be followed by the Special Course which starts on May 22 and ends on May 28. The third course, the Intensive Course will be from May 29 to June 4.

The Special Course has for its theme “The Mindanao Conflict: Multiple Perspectives of the Problem and the Need for a Common Articulation of the Solution”.

The theme is particularly relevant in the context of what we know, and what we still need to know, about the problem. The variables that enter into the peace negotiations currently going on are many – the stands of the negotiating groups, the multi-cultural aspects of Mindanao, tribal/ethnic aspirations, experiences of the past and how

these impact on the concerns for the future.The rationale for the

offering of this topic was based on the importance of the “need to listen to the various voices and blend these into one harmonious chord”. Speakers and resource persons with recognized expertise will bring their own perspectives to the sub-themes. To provide the backdrop to the presentations and discussions Dr. Ofelia Durante will present the findings of the research on the peace process which was conducted by Konsult Mindanaw of the Bishop-Ulama Conference. Prof. Rudy Rodil will speak on the History of the Peace Process in Mindanao and also on the topic of statehood and nationhood as these are evidenced in the Philippines and in Mindanao. Two panel presentations will also take place. The first panel, on what concerned groups wish to see as the outcome of the peace process will have as speakers Sec. Teresita Deles of Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), Usec. Miguel Apostol and Mr. Ismael Abubakar, Jr. A second panel will deal on the influence of cultural/ethnic principles and their impact on values formation. This panel will have Fr. Paolo Nicelli, PIME, Ms. Milet Mendoza and Mr. Alber Hussin.

Registration for the entire week-long course or for one day only is still going on. For details inquiries may be addressed to Ms. Cristina Beltran (mobile number 0927-651-3881) or by email to silsilahdialogue@gmail.com

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