Footprints in the Sand: A Peace Journey

Originally written on November 2007 in line with the celebration of the Mindanao Week of Peace with Peace Advocates Zamboanga.

“Ano’ng size ng shirt mo?” How could I ever forget this question? For just a matter of five words, my life went into an exceptional turn and practically changed everything in it. And I mean EVERYTHING.

These were the words of a friend whose way of inviting was rather peculiar. “Ahh…medium!” was my only reply. I did not even bother to inquire for the reason behind the question asked in an abrupt situation. My class hit the middle of the day and it was only a matter of a single minute before I could make it on time. Just picture out a girl not used to using heels running with an inch on each foot. Whew. And then, there goes the 3-second halt.

It was the beginning of a journey in one of life’s clichéd aspiration called peace advocacy in one of the country’s hot spot, the city ofZamboanga. It is best known as the Peace Advocates Zamboanga or capital P-A-Z for the Chavacanos, Tausugs, and indigenous people of what is now recognized as Asia’sLatinCity. Its primary goal is to achieve peace and unity amongst the different tribal clusters particularly inMindanao. It welcomes active participation from the youth of Zamboanga now called Youth Solidarity for Peace or the YSP.

I progressed my way to being an official PAZ youth volunteer as a member of the Media Committee for the 2007 Week of Peace Celebration, one of the annual events observed by the office.

At the outset, just like any toddler on her first day in school, I felt like I was the offbeat melody of the group. Everybody was well bonded and almost inseparable. For someone like me who is used to being in a group for years now, it was quite a challenge for me to go back to square one and enter a whole new set of people. Nevertheless, the crowd had a very welcoming spirit that made my “job” a littler lighter and more fun. Soon thereafter, one can already spot me as one of the earsplitting creatures attending camps, monthly meetings, even gigs and outings. It was a rather eccentric entrance, for my first stop was a “controversial” PAZabog issue (cough*cough*).

Aside from turning my dream of a tranquil world into reality, joining PAZ was like buying a new book and is very eager to read the story with a whole new plot, to follow, new set of characters to deal with, and new happenings to cherish…forever.

My journey in PAZ as part of the YSP is indeed a blast. Though, this is just the start of a new beginning for me. I am just about to make a step and mark my first few footprints in the sand. Now, I am looking forward for more footprints, more footprints, and more footprints to make.

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