Harmony Awards: Solidarity without Frontiers

Twenty five years ago, Fr. Salvatore Carzedda, PIME was killed in Zamboanga on May 20, 1992. He was the first martyr of the Silsilah Dialogue Movement. Silsilah, this year, remembers his martyrdom in the spirit of Padayon (move on) with courage to continue in the midst of new threats of violent radicalism that is now emerging with many forms, including the ISIS presence.

Forced to return to Italy after that sad event, Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra, PIME, the founder of Silsilah, with common friends of Fr. Salvatore started a group in Sicily called Communità Dialogo (Dialogue Community) that is still active in promoting dialogue among the multi-cultural multi-religious reality in Sicily.

The “Harmony Award Initiative” started in Zamboanga in 1995. Every year up to 2001, Silsilah has given this award to different communities in Zamboanga City: Lower Calarian, Don Gems Elementary School, Sta. Catalina, Arena Blanco Elementary School, Brgy. Pitogo, Sinunuc, Sinunuc Elementary School and Cawit Elementary School.

We are happy to inform friends that this year on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Martyrdom of Fr. Salvatore we restart the Harmony Award, an initiative of solidarity without frontiers because it is a common initiative sponsored by Friends of Communità Dialogo in Italy and Silsilah Dialogue Movement in the Philippines.
We will restart this year to give the Harmony Award annually to communities, institutions or individuals who are giving good examples in living and promoting in harmony, unity, solidarity, and peace with people of other cultures and religions. Particular attention will be given to those who are underprivileged and the marginalized sector of society in Zamboanga City.

Communità Dialogo is one of the groups in Italy that is part of Silsilah. This year, 2017, the friends of Fr. Salvatore of Communità Dialogo will remember the 25th anniversary of the martyrdom of Fr. Salvatore in July gathering friends from different parts in Italy to reflect together and continue to understand the challenges of today related to inter-faith dialogue and the urgency to continue the mission of dialogue and peace. The Silsilah Dialogue Movement will remember the 25th Anniversary of Fr. Salvatore on May 19 and 20 with a gathering of members and friends and renewal of commitment in these difficult times of radical violence colored by religious motivation.

Recalling the experience of the Harmony Award in the past years, we remember in a special way people and communities who had been benefiting this Award with some touching experiences of working together. In a special way we remember how this award given to the Sta. Catalina community in 1997, brought together Muslims and Christians in the community to do something concrete to help each other using the amount received from the Harmony Award. On that occasion, the Muslims and Christians worked together to repair a small chapel in Lustre area and they also helped each other to build the road going to the community mosque. We remember also in a special way the Harmony Award given to the community of Sta. Catalina, a place called Paniran extension. On that occasion, the people decided to give the name of all the roads of the area “Harmony Road”. Unfortunately, the siege of 2013 in Zamboanga, destroyed partially the efforts of that community, but the spirit of harmony among the Muslim and Christian people in the area remains. It emerges especially now in time of the post siege in different forms of solidarity among Muslims and Christians. After the initial beginning of the Harmony Awards in different communities, Silsilah launched a new initiative called Harmony Zone in different places where Silsilah is present. One of the active Harmony Zones is Barrio Bangkerohan, Sibugay, Zamboanga Del Sur. Also, we started to identify different areas when we put the Harmony Post. This post is in a form of a Pyramid to indicate that from the four corners of the universe all have to converge to a central point that is God.

In the post we put events to remember and the message: “Live and Promote the Culture of Dialogue, Path to Peace”. For the Harmony Award 2017, Silsilah already identified barangay Mampang, a poor area of Zamboanga City, center of many acts of violence years ago, but after the presence of Silsilah in the area with the Kindergarten and other solidarity activities, the Muslims and Christians of the area are more united. Thanks also to the good collaboration of the different agencies of the government and officers in the area.

Indeed, a sad story of violence and martyrdom is generating good stories of solidarity and friendship. This encourages us to move always with hope and to invite many to be courageous in living and promoting the Culture of Dialogue, Path to peace.

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