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November 27, 2009


It is disheartening that barely a day after the culmination of the Peace Conference called NAWAN in Davao City attended by at least a hundred cross-sectoral participants, the so-called “Maguindanao massacre” news broke into local tv then the international news program.

But despite all that, the better news is that the NAWAN participants were able to come up with a concrete program addressing the peace situatuion in Mindanao that would be implemented by the Mindanao Cluster Committee across the whole of Mindanao.

The Inter-committee members from the Mindanao cluster of the NCCA and sectoral leaders from the region initiated and organized the NCCA-funded conference titled “Nawan: Kalinaw-Mindanaw” Advancing Co-initiatives for Peace in Mindanao in Regency Inn in Davao City from Nov. 20-22, 2009.

An exhibit of art works expressing the shared aspirations of the culturally diverse peoples of Mindanao opened the conference.

The project also featured a simultaneous film showing event and live performance showcase, including a book fair.

The project aimed to mobilize active support and participation from major stakeholders in the areas of culture, arts, and peace-building initiatives in Mindanao.

The keynote address was given by Grace Rebollos, President of Western Mindanao State University.

For the first day, paper presenters were Col. Ernesto Ruiz Aradanas, Brigade Commander of the 603rd IB at Camp Iranun (formerly Camp Abubakar) in Barira, Maguindanao; and Shamira Gotoc, editor of Panel discussants to these papers included Era Colmo-Espana, tribal chieftain in Kidapawan; Mayor Alex Tomawis of Barira, Maguindanao; and Fr. Rey Jaectin of Pagadian City. Also presenting her paper is Irene Santiago, chair of the Mindanao Commission on Women followed by Dr. Mario Agujam of Mindanao State University-General Santos City. The sharing of experiences was led by Ma. Cecilia “Geejay” Arriola-Langlois of Mebuyan, visual artist Cris Rollo, Tausug artist Edwin Tantalie, playwright and filmmaker Arnel Mardoquio, Alma Uy, chair of the Tagum City Tourism Council, and Datu Docris Daug, Tagabawa local chieftain. The second day began with the presentation of the draft conference output for incorporation into the sub-regional planning workshops of the participants. The conference was aimed at creating a strategic development and action plan for advancing arts and culture to achieve peace in Mindanao. At the conclusion of the conference, NCCA Commissioner Ricky de Ungria led in the reading of the NAWAN declaration crafted by the participants, capped by a solidarity message from NCCA Executive Director Cecile Guidote-Alvarez.

The exhibit, titled “Hulagway ug Kaamguhan: Dalit sa Kamindanawan,” showed traditional and contemporary visual arts in Mindanao, along with a film festival showcasing works by Mindanao filmmakers that celebrate the multicultural complexity of the homeland through “Tan-aw, Lantaw Mindanaw: Cinemagining Mindanao.”

In the evenings, participants were enjoined to watch CCP-Tanghalang Pilipino’s “Madonna Brava ng Mindanao,” Don Pagusara’s adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s “Mother Courage and Her Children,” a searing indictment of war; traditional performances of the Teduray community of Maguindanao; and the showcase performance of contemporary dance artists from General Santos and Koronadal.

Nawan is sponsored/funded by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. It is organized also by the Filipino-Chinese Heritage and Cultural Society, Inc., of Davao City.

Nestor Horfilla acted as the Conference Director. Mr. Horfilla is the executive director of Mindulani, the cultural network in Mindanao.