Last 08 March 2024, our PBCI-CFP Team travelled to the Ancestral Territories of the Talaandig Indigenous community to participate in the 12th Affirmation of Kinship among Indigenous Peoples, Bangsamoro, and Settlers. As active participants in the tri-people kinship affirmation, we have been privileged to witness firsthand the profound impact of kinship in promoting peace and unity throughout Mindanao. Since its inception in 2012, this annual celebration has stood as a beacon of hope, reminding us of the deep-seated connections that bind together the Indigenous Peoples (IPs), Moros, and Settlers of our cherished region. For us, the highlight of this kinship affirmation is our inter-faith prayer. Through our collective prayers and supplications, we affirm our common humanity and recommit ourselves to the pursuit of love, joy, justice, and peace for all beings.

Five pillars of kinship

Central to the ethos of this gathering are the Five Pillars of Kinship, which serve as the foundational principles guiding our peace pacts. These pillars—cooperation, mutual sharing of information, mutual protection of life, recognition and respect, and mutual obligation to help the needy—go beyond mere rhetoric; they are lived values that have shaped the fabric of our communities across generations.

In 2017, the formal embrace of Settlers into our extended family marked a significant milestone in our collective journey towards reconciliation. This inclusive gesture acknowledged the intertwined histories and interdependence of all inhabitants of Mindanao, irrespective of ethnic or cultural backgrounds. It stood as a poignant symbol of the growing unity and collaboration among the tri-people.

As dedicated Peace and Reconciliation missionaries, we are deeply immersed in the grassroots peace-building efforts that underpin broader negotiations for vertical peace. Through our work, we facilitate meaningful dialogues, foster trust, and nurture understanding among the tri-people of Mindanao. Collaborating closely with traditional leaders, civil society organizations, and governmental bodies, we strive to create safe spaces for dialogue and cooperation.

Today, as we gather once more in celebration, we do so with hearts brimming with love, joy, and a renewed commitment to peace and unity. The blessing of an IP and Settler union during the 12th Reaffirmation serves as a potent symbol of the enduring covenant of peace that we aspire to uphold. This union epitomizes the strengthening bonds of kinship and solidarity that are transcending boundaries and nurturing a shared sense of belonging.

This event stands as a testament to the resilience and resolve of our people. It serves as an inspiration to the next generation, reminding us of the imperative to embrace our shared heritage and collaborate in shaping a future where every voice is valued and respected.

We consider it a profound honor to be integral to this movement, bearing witness to the transformative potential of kinship and the steadfast dedication to authentic peace in Mindanao.

Inter-faith prayer

In a world often divided by religious beliefs, cultural differences, and geopolitical tensions, the practice of inter-faith prayer serves as a powerful testament to our shared humanity and spiritual interconnectedness. At its core, inter-faith prayer is rooted in basic foundations that transcend religious boundaries and unite us in a common pursuit of love, joy, justice, and peace.

Central to the ethos of inter-faith prayer is the acknowledgment of a universal truth: that the Creator is our common Provider-Sustainer. Regardless of our religious affiliations or spiritual traditions, we recognize the divine presence that permeates all aspects of existence. This recognition fosters a sense of humility and reverence, compelling us to set aside doctrinal differences in favor of collective worship and supplication.

Moreover, inter-faith prayer acknowledges the intricate interplay between spiritual and physical dynamics in our world. It recognizes that our lives are not confined solely to the material realm but are imbued with spiritual significance and purpose. This holistic understanding encourages us to cultivate spiritual awareness and mindfulness in our daily lives, enriching our experiences and deepening our connections with the divine.

In affirming these foundational truths, we stand in solidarity with our Indigenous Peoples (IP) and Moro sisters and brothers. We recognize that these truths are not exclusive to any particular religious tradition but are inherent in the divine fabric of existence. As such, they serve as guiding principles that unite us in our collective journey towards spiritual enlightenment and social harmony.

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