Our teams at PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI) and Coffee For Peace (CFP) are being led, spiritually, to work with the leaders of the Indigenous Peoples (IP) who seek The Creator’s heart and who walk with what we mutually understand as The Creator’s just and peaceful statutes as they serve as stewards of their ancestral domains and as they struggle to realize their right to self-determination. This spiritual perspective of partnership govern the inclusive development strategies we practice in the field.
Datu Migketay Saway is a person of peace
It’s always a pleasure to share heart and mind with Datu Migketay Saway, whom we respectfully refer to as the Indigenius Person. I’m blessed to become one of his brothers through an indigenous ritual of kinship.
Our friendship began some 12 years ago when they hosted the Mindanaw Inter-Tribal Conference organized by the Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Movement. Since then, our relationship grew deeper.
- In 12-13 February 2012, we celebrated our partnership and formalized it through a ritual offered to the Creator — known to Hebrew writers as Elohim, to New Testament writers as Theos, to the Talaandig people as Magbabaya, to the Islamic believers as Allah, and to the Western Christians as God.
- In 07-08 March 2012, we were tasked to document the Kinship Re-Affirmation of the Indigenous Peoples and the Bangsamoro. We joined over 1,000 people at the Talaandig Ancestral Territory for that historic event. For the first time in 492 years, 13 Bangsamoro tribes have come together with 18 non-Islamized indigenous tribes to reaffirm their shared ancestry and commit to the 5 pillars of Kinship established in the traditional peace pact of their ancestors, namely — co-operation; mutual sharing of information; mutual protection of life; recognition and respect; and, mutual obligation to help the needy.
- In 09 April 2012, the PeaceBuilders Community were given permission by Datu Migketay Saway, along with his fellow leaders at the Talaandig Tribe, and the top executives of Unifrutti Group Philippines to mediate in a peace dialogue between them and to mutually search for healing for their wounded past.
- In 08 March 2014, we witnessed again the re-affirmation of this beautiful IP-Moro kinship. It was organized by Datu Migketay Saway and by the Mindanao Peoples Caucus.
- In 25 March 2015, Willard Metzger, then Executive Director of Mennonite Church Canada, led the PeaceBuilders Community’s Field Operations Team in presenting to Datu Migketay Saway our Plaque of Recognition as Senior Consultant at PBCI.
- In 16-20 May 2017, three Manila-based consultants of PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI) went on a five-day peace learning tour in Mindanao. They went to Datu Migketay for a courtesy call and sought his advice for them as PBCI consultants.
- In 08 March 2019, we went again to the Talaandig Ancestral Territory to celebrate the IP-Moro-Settler Kinship. It was during this time when we, the Settlers, were embraced by both the IPs and the Moro as their ritual kin.
- In 07 May 2019, Joji and I were invited to serve as principal sponsors at the marriage ceremony of Datu Saway’s daughter, Aduna Saway with her groom, Jay Manpatilan. It was a great joy to be invited into the merging clans and respective tribes of this beautiful Talaandig bride and this handsome Higaonon groom.
Our relationship with Datu Migketay Saway is spiritual. He is The Creator’s answer to our prayers.
At PBCI and CFP, we’ve been praying that The Creator would lead us to work among community leaders who walk according to the principles of justice and peace — not with the dealers who sell out their people and their lands to greed-based, destructive-extractive corporations.
In the Hebrew Scriptures, the ‘law and statutes of the Lord’ refer to the just character of the Creator reflected in ‘shalom’ — that is, our harmonious relationship with The Creator, with our being, with others, and with the creation. Shalom is rooted in Justice.
In our peacebuilding journey among the IPs in Mindanao, Datu Migketay Saway is the Creator-sent person of peace and justice.
Our relationship with IP partners is spiritual
In the worldview of the Indigenous Peoples in this land, every aspiration, action, event, or project starts with spirituality. That’s how we, at PBCI-CFP, look at the world too. We start with the many common grounds with other cultures. We engage in honest, transparent, and relational dialogue when we encounter differences in our worldviews. In all things, our relationship with the Talaandig people is grounded in the unconditional love of humanity’s Common Creator.
By having the privilege of strengthening and enhancing our partnership, even kinship, with the traditional leaders of various Indigenous Peoples in Mindanao, we’re realizing that The Creator is actually strengthening and deepening our work of service or ministry of Peace and Reconciliation (PAR).
Pastors June and Clay Rojo lead the PAR Movement in Eastern Mindanao.
PAR is about —
- Harmony with The Creator (spiritual-ethical transformation);
- Harmony with one’s being (psycho-social transformation);
- Harmony with others (socio-political transformation); and,
- Harmony with the creation (economic-ecological transformation).
PAR is the framework of our inclusive development initiatives and social entrepreneurial projects.
In Valencia City, PBCI-CFP established Kapeyapaan — it is a multi-purpose structure that houses the PAR activities in Eastern Mindanao. It is a training center where inter-faith peacebuilding seminars are held. It is a coffee shop where people can be at peace with their own being and with others. It is a shared service facility where indigenous coffee farmers from the surrounding municipalities can bring their products for post-harvest processing, roasting, and packaging. It is also an inclusive development learning space to equip qualified people to become social entrepreneurs.
PAR energizes our Inclusive Development strategies
Partnerships based on Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) must be regenerative and inclusive. Inclusion for us is about the larger Philippine society changing to welcome and appreciate the cultural uniqueness and worldview difference of the Indigenous Peoples and to eliminate discrimination against them. PAR principles and practices address colonial religious doctrines, political ideologies, and economic systems that disrespect and suppress IP identity. We want to hear more of the IP’s voices. We want to learn from their sustainable knowledge and wisdom towards a healthy economic-ecological transformation.
When PBCI-CFP makes a covenant with our community partners, we see and understand regenerative-inclusive development as follows:
- By regenerative, we mean a normal process of self-reproduction, renewal, or restoration of an ecological system toward a better, higher, or more worthy state. While we start with sustainability — which is the ability to maintain ecological systems at a certain rate or level — we want to seek regenerative development as a foundational principle in our development initiative.
- By inclusive development, we mean (a) high, sustainable development to create and expand spiritual, psycho-social, political, and economic growth of IP individuals and communities; (b) broader IP access to opportunities to ensure that members of indigenous communities can participate and benefit from holistic development; and, (c) social safety nets to prevent extreme deprivation, especially among IP communities oppressed by extractive-destructive corporations.
Coffee For Peace is our social enterprise through which we practice and teach PAR-framed regenerative-inclusive development. CFP started as an Income Generating Program (IGP) of the PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI). Then it evolved as a distinct social business organization. We focus on coffee farmers in IP communities who are affected by resource-based armed conflicts.
Coffee For Peace Communities integrate local, national, and international stake-holders. We seek the conciliation of farmers’ interests with that of consumers’ demands. Coffee farmers, entrepreneurs, workers, and servers who are relatively enjoying harmonious relationships tend to be more energized to continually improve in who they are, what they do, and what they eventually have. IP coffee farmers who have rediscovered their respective indigenous worldview, value systems, and customs tend to produce and serve their partners from other communities with excellence.
For PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. and Coffee For Peace to be sustainable, we must regenerate our resources. We are interdependent with IP communities in terms of our own regenerative-sustainability. Along with the regenerative sustainability of our IP partners, we also have to be successful in regenerating our resources to be effective inclusive development advocates and practitioners. However, we do not measure the social entrepreneurs’ success in terms of profit alone. Our social entrepreneurial leaders and partners measure success in terms of people, peace, progress, partnership, and planet.
The social enterprise, to us, are businesses that make money and work toward improving the peace and reconciliation journey of our land. By selling quality goods and services to consumers, which we determine through market research, we seek to help solve conflicts in our land in a sustainable way.
The people who are often attracted to social entrepreneurial principles and practices are those who dream, and are willing to work hard and smart, towards solving a social problem.
In turn, social entrepreneurs attract consumers who want to help social problems every time they spend money on something they need or want.
Datu Migketay Saway, the Talaandig Tribe, and the various Indigenous Peoples teach us what genuine partnership is really about. No benefactor-beneficiary power dynamics. No donor-donee dependency syndrome. No threatening colonizer-colonized manipulations. This justice-based relationship brings genuine peace and liberation — both for them and for us.