The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) has appointed several celebrities from various industries as National Peace Ambassadors during the “I am for Peace” campaign launch led by President Benigno Aquino III on Friday, September 14, at Malacañan Palace, in line with the National Peace Consciousness Month this September.
Among the celebrities named as envoys were international artist apl.de.ap of the Black Eyed Peas; local celebrities Gerald Anderson, Anne Curtis, Epy Quizon, Christian Bautista, Megan Young, Mikael Daez, Kiray, and Igi Boy; singers-composers Noel Cabangon and Ebe Dancel, and Gloc-9; social media icons Ramon Bautista and Kimpoy Feliciano; Moro artist Datu Khomeini Bansuan; fashion designers Arnold Galang and JC Buendia (for the Fashion Design Council of the Philippines); sportsman and TV host Rovilson Fernandez; and the Philippine Azkals team.
In his speech, President Aquino revealed that the country holds the title “World’s longest-running communist insurgency,” for four decades. “Nakakalungkot mang aminin, hawak po ng Pilipinas ang “World’s longest-running communist insurgency.” Apatnapu’t dalawang taon na po ito. Ibig sabihin, sa loob ng mahigit apat na dekada, wala pa ring napapanday na pinal na kasunduan ang pamahalaan at ang grupo ng mga rebeldeng komunista. Ibig pong sabihin, may halos dalawang henerasyon ng mga Pilipino ang nabigo nating handugan ng payapang pamumuhay.”
“Naiintindihan po natin ang ugat nito. May ilang pinili na lamang mamuhay sa anino ng takot at karahasan. May ibang sumuko at manhid na sa dating mapanlinlang na sistema, habang ang iba nama’y namulat na sa kultura’t ideolohiya ng armadong pakikibaka. Gayumpaman, tulad din natin silang naghahangad ng katahimikan, at nagtatanong din sa sariling: Kailan ba matatapos ang madugong bangayan? Ilang bangkay pa ba ang kailangang paglamayan bago manahimik ang mga armas? Kahit ano pang sukatan ang gamitin natin, wala po tayong napala sa mga walang-katuturang bakbakan,” he added.
With the ongoing peace talks, President Aquino, however, sees hope amid all these insurgencies. “Ngayong nagsisimula na ang pagsasakatuparan nito, tiyak na ang sasalubong sa susunod na salinlahi ay isang bagong umaga, kung saan hindi ang pagsabog ng kanyon, o ang amoy ng pulbura ang araw-araw na gugulantang sa kanila. Sa halip, gigising sila sa tilaok ng manok, sa bango ng kape’t bagong-lutong almusal, at sa mainit na yakap ng kanilang magulang bawat umaga. Kaya natin itong marating, at makakaasa kayong gagawin ko ang lahat para matupad ang mga ito. At mapapabilis itong makamit kung nagkakaisa tayo tungo sa mas tahimik na bansa. Tara, samahan ninyo ako: ihatid natin sa mas mapayapang bukas ang bawat Pilipino”
Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles of OPAPP, on the other hand, explained the concept of the campaign in an interview with reporters during the campaign launch. “The concept of the “I am for Peace” campaign is to be able to bring in people to claim that they have a place in the peace process. And we need influential, known people to have to be champions that can help to bring ordinary citizens to think about it.”
She also explained how the idea of Peace Ambassadors came about. “The way it started, I think, the whole idea of having Ambassadors for Peace came in fact from one of them, who is a friend of one of our staffers. Si Megan. And wanting to know more. And that was where it grew. And the group that we have are mixed, some of them have volunteered. And then people we’re looking at who would be good models, who are known, who are being followed [in social media accounts], and who are willing to do it.”
Quoting her in an earlier statement, Deles also shared: “The government has been working hard; but peace building is not the work of government alone. We need more stakeholders who believe in the peace process. For a peace agreement to be truly successful, we’ll need the participation of the entire nation.”
Ambassadors speak of peace
When asked what can they do or contribute as Peace Ambassadors, the following celebrities have shared their thoughts to SecurityMatters.
“Magsimula sa bahay. Dapat panatag ang sarili mo. Di mo pwedeng ituro yung kapayapaan sa ibang tao kung sa bahay mo magulo. So start from the house, have a loving family. Dahan-dahan [sa] kapitbahay hanggang sa maliliit na bar gigs hanggang dun sa peace concert dun sa Baguio at the end of the month so nandun ako. Kailangang involved tayong lahat sa [peace] process. It’s a process, medyo matagal sabi nga ng presidente umabot na ng apat na dekada. Pero kung kasama tayong lahat, kasi natatanaw na nila, kung matatanaw nila matatanaw na natin. It’s a very heartwarming feeling.” – Ebe Dancel
“Well, I love the direction now that OPAPP is going by utilizing social media. I mean that is the future, that is the best way to get our message across, the campaign for peace. We’re all very active on Twitter, Facebook, internet, television, radio. In addition, I’m part of the sports segment, so you know sport is just like life. In order to succeed in life, you need such things as discipline, practice, sportsmanship, conduct, fairness. These are the things you need in order to achieve peace as well. So I’m very excited to start up some grassroots sports programs alongside with the Azkals to hopefully, you know, promote peace. So that’s what hopefully I can do on my end.” – Rovilson Fernandez
“I think I could raise awareness to the youth. And, you know, really educate them about the situation in the Philippines. And also, my other idea is about, to me, this opportunity and education, because I think that’s what people need. When you don’t have opportunities, people get desperate, and that’s when we have negativity.” – apl.de.ap of Black Eyed Peas
“As a Peace Ambassador, I would love to personally visit these areas, to personally give encouragement and inspiration to our people there.” – Christian Bautista
“Well, actually, I still don’t know, there’s so many things that you can do as an Ambassador for Peace. But I do have a peace festival, I’m directing and producing a peace festival on September 23 at Arts in the City sa The Fort. It’s called the Earth Dance Manila 2012. It’s synchronized peace festival, largest in the world, in 300 locations and 65 countries. So me and my other half represent Earth Dance Manila.” – Epy Quizon
“To be a good example. To influence the youth to have the want and be for peace as well.” – Anne Curtis
“I can help the youth when it comes to education. Since I’m still a student as well, I think that it’s important that the youth, everyone gets proper education, ‘coz I believe that having that foundation, having that educational background is a way for us to be more educated on how it is, how we can be a more prosperous country in terms of peace which is also one of the other foundations to help our country become more solid, and become more, you know, united as one. So I think that’s where I want to start it.” – Megan Young
Celebrities Derek Ramsay, Karylle, and Sam Concepcion, on the other hand, were also named as ambassadors but weren’t available for the event.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Azkals, during the “1GoalforPeace” event last September 2 at the Philippine Sports Complex in Pasig, have also expressed their willingness to promote peace through football. Watch the video below. (Video by Lorela U. Sandoval for SecurityMatters.)
Other activities to be launched are “I Choose: Peace,” a youth football program, and “Business Partners for Peace,” a peace advocacy for companies. The month-long celebration is sponsored by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation. (With additional report from John Ray Ramos.)