Philippines: Local Bangsamoro films show peaceful, harmonious side of Mindanao


An article from the Philippine Information Agency

Eight local, independent filmmakers dared audiences to correct their misconceptions against the Bangsamoro and Filipino Muslims by viewing Mindanao through a different lens and perspective in another showing of the film project The Long Reach of Short Films – Telling Stories of Peace in Mindanao in Cine Adarna at the University of the Philippines Diliman last July 13.

Photo from forum ZFD facebook page
(Click on photo to enlarge)

“We try to find a different way to tackle the Bangsamoro issue. Films are important to create discussions and dialogue and impact emotionally,” said project manager Manuel Domes of Civil Peace Service / Forum Ziviler Friedensdienst e. V. (forumZFD).
“Our main focus is not so much on the grander level of peace discourse but on the level of peace education, understanding the context, and articulating it.”
forumZFD is a German non-government organization which organized and funded the eight films included in the collection. It was also responsible for holding the workshop that guided the eight filmmakers in planning for their films. All eight hail from Mindanao. The Long Reach of Short Films – Telling Stories of Peace in Mindanao film project is a collective initiative to show various stories of peace and conflict transformation in the Bangsamoro region.
It stated in their Facebook page that “Mainstream narratives on the Philippines’ southern island Mindanao are often centered on violence and an over-simplification of its underlying causes. While realities of armed clashes, kidnappings, and human rights violations must not be ignored, there are stories of hope and peace, which often escape the attention of media and the public.”
In addition, the group also described the initiative as “Supported through a grant project in early 2016, the filmmakers came up with narrative and documentary short films providing different perspectives on the peace and conflict situation on the island. Collectively, the films seek to spark dialogue, foster understanding, and contribute to a bigger picture of what is Mindanao today.”

The films featured in the project are Under a Canopy of Light by Teng Mangansakan; Panicupan by Keith Bacongco; Dalem by Haidie Sangkad; Kulahi by Pam Chua; Upat Hinasil by Zehry Ibn Muhammad; In the Middle of an End by Ryanne Murcia; Digkilaan by Nef Luczon; and Pagbarug Tu Pagtuon (The Right to Learn) by Arbi Barbarona.

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Question for this article:

Can peace be achieved in Mindanao?

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Some of the films were also screened in Cotabato City in March this year as part of the commemoration of the second anniversary of the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.
In a recent news report, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) Secretary Jesus Dureza underscored the importance of recognizing and understanding the differences among Filipinos, Muslims or non-Muslims, to achieve long-lasting peace. “[T]here is a lot of ethnicities and diversity. In fact, one of the key points we have to emphasize is in order to have sustainable peace, dapat may tinatawag tayong social cohesion (we should have what we call social cohesion).”
“Let’s just accept the differences. Understand the differences and then accept these differences,” the OPAPP secretary continued.
Meanwhile, World Bank consultant on peace process support Michael Frank Alar and National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) commissioner Atty. Al-Amin Julkipli who were also present at the event lauded the filmmakers for showing a different side of Mindanao distant from the usual war and conflict stories.
“The sad thing about Mindanao is that it is only about war that media picks up. Hardly are we interested about harmony and interfaith dialogue but those are what make Mindanao interesting,” Alar said. “These films will show you the different sights and facets of Mindanao.”
For his part, Julkipli stressed that hearing ground stories from the Bangsamoro would help in having a firmer grasp to the context of the armed struggle and the peace negotiations with the Moro armed groups. “When it comes to the question or issue of Bangsamoro, a lot of narrative have to be heard or have to be reheard. Some are important things – like memory – that have to be transmitted, and spaces that will have to be created.”
“[The film project] is about challenging all of us to try to internalize what we know about the story and the reality of Mindanao and the challenge of what we have learned and what we have to unlearn,” Atty. Julkipli added.
forumZFD is in the process of partnering with various organizations to continuously provide avenues for the showing of said films.  “We are working with a group of universities in Davao in developing teaching materials in the schools and looking for entry points in the curriculum to show these films,” Domes said.

(Thank you to the Global Campaign for Peace Education for calling this article to our attention)