We are now in a three-year transition process to give way to the next generation of leaders in this Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) vision and mission for which we were sent by Mennonite Church Canada as missionaries in 2006. This PAR Movement is now being carried by three ‘organizational vehicles’ — Coffee for Peace (CFP), PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI), and ProducePeace+ (PP+). The young leaders heading these social enterprises — Tala Alngag Bautista, Sihaya Ansibod, and Bennette Grace Mañulit — are beginning to organize themselves to run a sustainable and regenerative PAR Movement.

This dinner with Tala and Sihaya at a restaurant in Roxas City in January 2017 prompted us to pray for them as the next generation leaders of PBCI-CFP Family. A few months after this dinner, Bennette (not in photo) started PP+ as PBCI’s immediate response to food shortage in MetroManila due to CoViD19.

Seeking points of convergence of three organizations. PBCI, CFP and PP+ are legally distinct from each other but are exploring the possibility to function as one inclusive development group.

PBCI is a non-profit organization that trains peace and reconciliation leaders and field volunteers — like conflict transformation specialists, restorative justice practitioners, and inclusive development leaders — who are dreaming and working together for a just, radical, and active non-violent transformation of our beautiful land. PBCI normally works in partnership with religious institutions, civil society organizations, political fronts, business corporations, and government agencies.

CFP is a for-profit corporation. While doing profitable business, CFP addresses social issues that concern our farmers, our environment, and the peace situation in our land. CFP is committed to multiply justice-oriented social enterprises in the coffee industry. CFP is also the primary social enterprise model in this PAR Movement practicing the principles and ethics of inclusive, sustainable, and regenerating development. 

ProducePeace+ buys fruits and vegetables directly from farmers at justice-based prices. They sell them to solidarity markets mostly belonging to upper-middle class families. They use a big chunk of their net profit to provide nutritious food relief for the urban poor. PP+ is building a justice-based relationship between socio-economic divide through social enterprise. This opens a way towards conscientization, transformation, and healing of both the people and the land.

Mentoring new leaders. Starting this year and in the following years to come, we will invest most of our time and energy equipping and empowering a new generation of leaders through the PeaceBuilders School of Leadership (PBSL). PBSL is the continuing education program for current PBCI staff, consultants, and selected volunteers; it is also the training and qualifying program for PBCI’s prospective Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) seminar facilitators, consultants and new staff candidates.

Meet the new members of our senior leadership team who have completed the basic and advanced programs at PBSL:

Twinkle Alngag Bautista. We call her ‘Tala’ — the Pilipino term for star. Tala is a proud member of the Sumacher First Nation in Kalinga and celebrates the fact that she belongs to the Indigenous People (IP). She’s a graduate of the University of the Philippines in Diliman with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism. At an early age, she dreamed to be a missionary. With much gratitude to Afunyan—our Creator, Tala earned her Master of Arts degree in Conflict Transformation from the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University, Virginia, USA. Her thesis topic, “Decolonizing and Localizing Peacebuilding Through a For-Profit Social Enterprise: The Story of Coffee for Peace and PeaceBuilders Community,” helps us see a clearer picture of our journey at PBCI and CFP. Tala serves as Senior Vice President at CFP, and concurrently serves as Director of Leadership Development at PBCI.

Sihaya Ansibod. Her christianized name is Jobelyn Basas. Sihaya obtained her Bachelor of Science Degree in Community Development from Southern Christian College, Midsayap, Cotabato. She is a proud Erumenen ne Menuvu — one of Mindanao’s indigenous peoples. The meaning of her indigenous name, Sihaya Ansibod, is “The Enlightened One”. Her gifts of spiritual discernment and wisdom are being demonstrated in the delicate tasks she’s doing in the field — community organizing, conflict transformation, inclusive development initiatives. She has good working skills in dealing with various kinds of situations, proficient in working with computers, works effectively with PBCI office and field teams, and flexible in adapting changes in new settings. Sihaya serves as Director of Field Operations at PBCI, and is being groomed as the next CEO.

Bennette Grace Tenecio-Manulit. Bennette holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. She served as PBCI’s director of support operations for several years. She made sure that our field workers — both paid and volunteer staff — were adequately cared for through her administrative and financial management skills. In those times of emergencies due to war and natural disasters, Bennette and her team proved to be efficient and effective in their logistical operations. Her advanced leadership and management skills brought her to lead a national project of the Philippine Relief and Development Services, the relief and development arm of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches. At present, she’s developing ProducePeace+. Bennette also serves as Vice President for Public Relations at Coffee for Peace, Inc.

Inclusive development consulting group. As we are getting deeply immersed in divided communities because of unresolved conflicts, the more we are becoming aware of the need for inclusive economic development as a critical aspect of our peace and reconciliation mission. Inclusive Development is based on three pillars:

  • high, sustainable, regenerating development and growth to create and expand economic opportunities;
  • broader access to opportunities to ensure that members of society can participate and benefit from development; and,
  • social safety nets to prevent extreme deprivation.

A number of people’s community organizations with whom we are working together are moving towards inclusive development. They are actively involved in the areas of various livelihood initiatives, such as: vegetable farming and marketing; bamboo product manufacturing; and, brick-making using silts and palay hull.

These inclusive development activities are all framed in Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Principles — that is harmony with the Creator (spiritual transformation), with one’s being (psycho-social transformation), with the others (socio-political transformation), and with creation (economic-ecological transformation).

Because of these emerging needs expressed by our field partners, we are prompted to organize ourselves into an integrated inclusive development consulting group. All the talents, expertise, years of experience, and resources of PBCI, CFP, and PP+ are now being evaluated, hopefully to become inter-operable, to serve our clients better.

Permanent link to this article: https://peacebuilderscommunity.org/2021/11/a-younger-set-of-committed-leaders-are-being-equipped-to-spearhead-pbci-cfp-in-the-next-decades/

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We are sent by Mennonite Church Canada Witness in partnership with our international community.