Journeying with IFCL-Sulu
Inter -Faith Council of Leaders (IFCL) – there is a group in Zamboanga City, in Basilan and in Sulu. The oldest of these groups is the one in Zamboanga which has been around for over 10 years and the other two came to be some years after. Each group was organized by the Silsilah Dialogue Movement to harness the goodwill and commitment of Muslim and Christian leaders in the pursuit of peace through dialogue.
In August 2013 the core group of IFCL-Jolo – whose name has been changed to IFCL-Sulu- came to the Harmony Village in Pitogo, Sinunuc, Zamboanga City to reflect and plan together the work that the group will undertake to contribute towards the building of peace in Sulu, particularly in Jolo, the capital of the province of Sulu. At the conclusion of their planning workshop they came together with IFCL-Zamboanga and IFCL-Basilan to share best practices and to draw inspiration from the two other groups. The particular environment for each group differed slightly from that of the other two but all three groups were one in their commitment to promote peace in their respective places.
Some 8 months later, on April 7, 2014, the core group of IFCL-Sulu once again came to Harmony Village to reflect together on their work and plot more firmly the direction the work will take. It will be noted that since the 2013 planning workshop the government of the Philippines and the MILF signed the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) on March 27, 2014. In the context of the CAB, the environment for the promotion of peace in Sulu took on a new and more hopeful level.
On April 8, 2014 at the Diamond Room of the Grand Astoria Hotel, IFCL-Sulu met with members of the core group of IFCL-Zamboanga. The joint meeting was marked by a lively exchange of observations on the situation of peace in Sulu and the prospects for Muslim-Christian relations in the predominantly Muslim province.
One perspective on the situation and what is called for to promote peace was mentioned by Prof. Ajahul Y. Amirul who said that there is a need to increase knowledge and the practice of the teachings of Islam and Christianity among the respective followers of these two great faiths, and especially by those who hold positions of leadership in the community. Bishop Angelito R. Lampon,OMI of the Prelature of Sulu said that the religious leaders of the province have found common cause in the pursuit of peace for all in the province. However, there are those leaders who pursue their own agenda which sometimes veer away from the common good.
One succinct observation was that Sulu is very often portrayed in the media as continually challenged by such incidents as kidnapping, bombings and the like. These incidents do take place; on the other hand many good and happy incidents also take place, like projects being implemented for the people’s welfare but these are not given attention in the media. These comments generated a lively exchange of ideas on how to present the happy incidents, especially using the social media.
It is often said that “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step”. IFCL- Sulu has embarked on the journey and has already taken more than the first steps.
IFCL-Zamboanga wishes them a meaningful journey and sincere support for their endeavors on the way.