#EpicYouth 2017 #YouthForPeace

Youth for Peace – National Capital Region President Hisham Panganting participated in the Epic Youth 2017. It was a 6 day seminar-workshop program held at De Lasalle University, Vito Cruz Manila on September 24 to September 30, 2017.

EPICYOUTH2017’s main objective was to educate youth who were prone to any violent activities and to prevent them in engaging vicious actions. It was also addressed to the youth leaders in Manila to pass on what they had learned from the workshop to their community.

Participants were youth ranging 18-25 years old, from different places in Manila including Cavite who committed to join the 6 day live-in workshop. There was also workshop held in Zamboanga City in collaboration with the participants in Manila.

The venue was at American Corner in De Lasalle University while the accommodation was the dormitory of the scholars in the University. The topics were focus on peace, conflict and violence on how to engage it in society in the propagation of peace and prosperity and to learn how conflict and violence be managed.

Here are some of the highlights of the activity shared by Mr Hisham:

Day One

On the first day of the Program, the participants introduced themselves to the group and they draw a pathway to show their motivations in attending the workshop. Participants’ pathways were shared to everyone to know their reasons and motivations in attending the workshop.

The second activity was the so-called Team and Trust Building, the participants need to achieve was to hold the chair in slanting position and maintain its position until the allotted time of 8 minutes. The game’s main objective was to build cooperation and trust between and among participants to maintain the position of the chair while transferring to other chair. What happened was we did it successfully.

The participant’s third activity was an exercise in identity; each participant wrote things and adjectives that would describe their selves. After writing it down, they shared it to everyone. The purpose of this exercise was to show that each one of the participant has its unique characteristic and that everyone is different from one another. But this exercise taught the participants that though we have unique characteristics we still have similarities.

Participant’s fourth activity was a video conference together with the participants in Zamboanga City, titled “Introduction to Islamic Understanding on Violent Extremism” by Alim Abdulmuhmin Mujahid, Executive Director ARMM Regional, Darul Iftah. Sir Mujahid, discussed to us the true teachings of Islam which was non-violence. He said that Islam never taught Muslims to kill but Islam taught Muslims to be kind and have mercy to human kind. Sir Mujahid; the speaker, was awarded certificate of appreciation of being part of the workshop.

The last part of the program was a lecture in “Peace and Violence” by Sir Jun. He discussed the meaning of violence. He cited one definition of violence from John Galtung, according to him violence was avoidable impairment of fundamental human needs. He also discussed to us three kinds of violence. According to him, direct violence or physical was the actual action of violence like killings, second was cultural violence were traditions that caused damage to the human needs of a person, for example the mindset that women should only stay at home and should not go to school and lastly structural violence, these were violence that does not directly caused by a person, like corruption. He also taught the participants, the two kinds of peace, the negative and positive peace. Negative peace was the kind of peace implemented in the society to stop violence for example curfew while Positive peace was policies implemented in the society to educate people.

Day Two

In the second day of the program, we had an ice breaker at the same time an exercise together with the participants in Zamboanga City. Participants in Manila danced with the participants in Zamboanga through video conference.

Participant’s second activity is the discussion on “Conflict Escalation”, we discussed that conflict was unavoidable misunderstanding between and among society; conflict compared to violence was an everyday activity of the people that if not properly discussed and properly communicated will lead to violence. Conflict Escalation was caused by the following:

  1. Triggering and Provoking
  2. Proliferation of Issues
  3. Form Adversarial alliances
  4. Distortion of communication
  5. Rigid and extreme positions
  6. Hurting each other and destruction

While the Sources of Conflict are the following:

  1. Structure
  2. Communication
  3. Emotions
  4. Resources
  5. History

This escalation and sources of conflict were only some reasons on why people were fighting each other. This is because everyone has its own context, attitude and behavior, if not carefully understood by everyone there will be a big possibility of conflict.

This discussion was followed by a topic on the Strategies to avoid conflict or the so-called “Conflict Management”. To resolve issues and to avoid conflict, sometimes you need to avoid something to prevent conflict, sometimes you accommodate depending on the relationship you have to a person.

The program ended in a topic on “Youth Vulnerability to Violent Extremism in ARMM” through a video conference from Zamboanga City. The lecturer showed us the statistics on why youth in ARMM were joining to violent extremism; the study showed that the main reasons were poverty and lack of education. The study had 4 case studies which were interviewed by the researcher; they found out that those youth joined violent extremism because they want to revenge their parents after they were killed.

His lecture was not recorded because the study was not yet published in ARMM and subject to any changes.

Day Three                                 

The day started again with an exercise, after that the participants had a video conference with Ms. PC Mayane and had a lecture on “Violence in Communication, Ethnolinguistic Violence, Hate Speech, Fake News and Bashing Online”. She is currently working in Globe, and taught us that people should be mindful in posting in social media. She said that every time you interact there is an impact.

Participant’s next lecture was about “Communication Model” by Sir Jules Benitez from Zamboanga City through video conference. He taught us how message was relayed from one person to another through the so-called channels.

Participant’s third activity was a game; the rule of the game was to “Gain points as much as you can”. The exercise consists of 8 rounds, each group in each round; independent to each other, makes a decision, writes it on a piece of paper and hands it over to the leader of exercise. The decision is a choice between two options, X and Y. The group may make a profit or register loss in each round. The extent of the profit or loss depends on the sub total of the decisions made by the group. They are calculated in every round.

The result was failure, because this was a unity game, the purpose of the game was to gain points as much as we can, but every team only thinks of their selves rather than as a whole team. If every team chose Y, the whole class will have a positive result. What we had learned from this game was if we will relate it to the real situation, this was true, because everyone is only thinking its own self-interest rather than a the interest of the society. It was much better to help one another rather than fighting each other on the resources.

The last session of the day was a Digital Thumbprint Session by Ms. Paola Cortes from Google. She discussed some statistics in the Philippines on how Filipinos were fan of using social media platforms. It shows that out of 103 million populations in the Philippines 60 million of it was internet users as data in 2017, 88% percent of it were using mobile phones. Imagine how wide the spectrum of social media users in the Philippines. Posting in social media, you will have a possible 60 million viewers. According to the research Facebook is the number one social media platforms used by Filipinos.

Day Four

Participant’s first session was a whole day discussion focusing Social Media Peace Building with Ms. Paola Cortes from Google. In this day, she discussed to us on how to use Adobe Sparks in creating multimedia for the Social Media Peace Campaign of the participants. She taught us how to improve Facebook pages for the campaign of each team’s advocacy. The class was group into four, a group from Taguig, Manila, Cavite and Valenzuela. And I was with the Group Taguig.

Our group’s peace campaign was about religious discrimination. Our concept was to make a social media experiment and to interview Muslims regarding their different experiences of being discriminated.

Ms. Cortes gave us guidelines and strategies to make our page better. The following were the strategies:

  1. Platform Focus- the cover photo should be our advocacy and a logo
  2. Always on Visual
  3. Timing Regency
  4. Virality
  5. Pop-culture Trends
  6. Familiar Branding and Campaign

After the discussion Ms. Cortes gave us time to develop our page cover photo and to create our own logo. Ms. Cortes session was ended through discussing Adobe Sparks.

The last session of the day was the discussion about “Transforming the Nation through Values”. Each characteristic was taught to us by M. Zaynab Ampatuan to be part of change in the society through these characteristics.

Day Five

This day was the final presentation of each group peace campaign together with the participants in Zamboanga City. There were 8 presentations, four from Manila and four in Zamboanga City. Our presentations were being judged by the representative in US Embassy and the Executive Director of Peacetech. The winner will be granted P25, 000.00 for the continuance of the campaign.

Every participant will give their comments and scores to all presentation. Each participant were given a grading sheet to rate the overall presentation.

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We are the loving youth of our country, doing our obligation to be the hope of our nation.

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