PeaceBuilders Community MetroManila is a “bayanihan” of people advocating and working for a just, radical, and active non-violent transformation of our beautiful land. Their mandate is to practice and propagate our message of peace—as harmony with the Creator, harmony with our being, harmony with others, and harmony with the creation—in the various contexts of the urban reality in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Bennette, front in blue shirt, leads in the field operations of PBCI MetroManila.This is in response to the needs of farmers to market their products at sustainable prices and to meet the needs of the urban poor in the national capital region to gain access to affordable vegetables.

PAR-Based Bayanihan

We always start our new field operations with Peace and Reconciliation (PAR). PAR is the heart of our ministry.

PEACE. The concept of peace—from the Hebrew term shalom and the Arabic term salaam—is understood here as:
:: harmony with the Creator (spiritual transformation);
:: harmony with our Being (psycho-social transformation);
:: harmony with Others (socio-political transformation); and,
:: harmony with the Creation (economic-ecological transformation).

RECONCILIATION. This is focused on building relationships between antagonists. The primary goal is to seek innovative ways to create a time and a place to address, to integrate, and to embrace the painful past and the necessary shared future as a means of dealing with the present.

BAYANIHAN. Bayanihan is the Tagalog word that means sharing of life, resources, efforts, labor, and time to accomplish a community endeavour. The first part of the word, bayan, means people, society, or community. We can also find the word bayani which means hero. We can even make sense of the middle segment of the word ani which means harvest. The last segment, anihan, means harvest time.

Bayanihan is almost equivalent to the New Testament concept of koinounia which means fellowship among believers in Christ who are sharing life and resources, energized by the Spirit of God.

With this perspective, three board members of the PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI)—Joseph “Boyet” Ongkiko, Bennette Grace Tenecio Mañulit, and AJ Moldez—were challenged to respond to the pressing needs in Luzon during the CoViD19 Enhanced Community Quarantine.

Lakan Sumulong, PBCI DreamWeaver, started connecting people to form an emergency response team. However, he’s imagining that this team will also be challenged, trained, and mobilized to commit towards a long term vision, though starting with the team’s initial emergency focus.

“The objective of this budding social enterprise project is to build a PAR-based value chain of vegetables from the farmers to the urban poor consumers.”

We are praying that the team’s perspective of the problem would expand from simple to complex. Hopefully, that’s when they’ll commit to mid- and long-term objectives.

“In our third week of the CoViD19 Quarantine 2020, we joined hands with other organizations to help in feeding hungry families in the capital,” said AJ Moldez, the PBCI MetroManila PAR Advocacy Team Leader, when asked to share how they started. “A connection between farmers in Nueva Ecija to their fellow Filipinos in Manila was made to deliver 1,250 kilograms of tomatoes to add to relief efforts to 2,500 hungry families” he adds. “It was a small contribution, and we pray that it could be more, but combined with other people’s heart filled efforts it does make a difference.”

The team formed a Circle of Elders to lead them and to guide them in this journey: Bishop Efraim Tendero, Herman Moldez, Lakan Sumulong, Joji “Lakambini” Pantoja, Joseph “Boyet” Ongkiko, AJ Moldez, and Bennette Grace Tenecio Mañulit.

‘We’re dreaming and working towards a justice-based peace and reconciliation between the various population groups in the urban areas.” ~Lakan Sumulong, PBCI DreamWeaver

The “Budding Social Enterprise” Project

We’re dreaming and working towards a social enterprise that would build a justice-based sustainable food supply chain between the farmers in the rural areas and the vulnerable communities in Metro Manila’s urban poor areas. Although the idea was sparked by the crises brought about by CoViD19, this is being seen by the PBCI leadership team as part of its peacebuilding journey from the rural context to the urban context.

“This is a continuation of what we’ve learned as peacebuilders in Mindanao,” said Lakan Sumulong, DreamWeaver at PBCI. “The crises we were facing were food security, health challenges, and human rights issues in the midst of decades-long war. We soon learned that our peacebuilding approach should be holistic, inclusive, sustainable, and regenerative,” he adds.

“In the midst of those crises,” recalls Joji Pantoja, CEO of Coffee For Peace, “we listened actively. And I kept hearing ‘kapi sa kalilintad’ which I soon learned to mean ‘coffee for peace’ in the Maguindanao language. Those listening events became the energy seeds that fuelled the vision and realization of the social enterprise I’m now leading.”

Joji is excited how this budding social enterprise project would propel an urban contextualized PAR movement.

The momentum of this budding social enterprise is slowly gaining energy. “It’s indeed a day to celebrate and be grateful for the amazing love of our Creator,” mused Bennette Grace, the PBCI MetroManila Field Operations Leader. Her immediate volunteers—her own family and her best friend, MaiMai Lim—are at the forefront of this project. “I am thankful to my nieces, Claudethe Megan and Claire Camille, who committed themselves to help me and patiently taking orders and answering inquiries of those who wanted to buy mangoes,” Bennette continues. “Whew! Our team can’t do it without their help,” she exclaimed in delight.

They are of course supported by their PBCI MetroManila Team. Pastor Marlo Alba of Faith Baptist Church in Quezon City assists them in dispatch and monitoring of orders. Pastor Emil Ybañez Jr. serves as their driver and community relations officer. Volunteers from Botocan—Ryan, Noy, Aljun, Jun, and Adrian—serve in packing the produce. A very important team are the motorcycle riders—Joel, Ralph, Matt, Dave, Mike, Jess, and Neil—who deliver the orders at the customers’ doorsteps. Wilma Batac, a staff at AJM Planning and Design, helps in taking orders and answering to queries. Last but not the least is Kristina Senga who maintains the team’s FB page.

Workers and leaders from various community-based organizations, including PBCI MetroManila team, join hands together in Bayanihan to meet the needs of rural farmers and urban poor.

For MaiMai, this project is about experiencing an inner joy while serving as a bridge between two groups of hungry people—the rural farmers and the urban consumers. “My heart is so full despite the challenges,” she said. “No farmers will get hungry as we are here to bridge them to those who need it to feed a family.” She expressed her gratitude to their solidarity market: “Thank you so much to our angel buyers.”

PBCI prays that this ‘budding social enterprise project’ would make a difference that can change and transform lives through, and beyond, this pandemic.

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