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1st Bangsamoro Youth Conference
[Date Created: June 1, 2015]

June 3, 9:27 PM

"The diversity of our culture and the talent of our people take the spotlight here at the Solidarity Night of the Bangsamoro Youth Hope Conference. Learning so much from all the beautiful dialects, music, dances, and songs that I've been hearing all night. Also quite honored to have taken a quick photo with the youth of Basilan before they presented traditional Yakan dances and led the youth from other tribes into an impromptu unity dance. Wala na akong masabi pa sa galing ng kabataang Bangsamoro. Mabuhay kayo!

On a more personal note, it was 3 years ago when we first stepped foot in Basilan, and it will always hold a special place in our hearts. Today you'll find a GK village and a refurbished school building where there were once just empty land and hollow blocks. Excited for the interventions that the youth have planned, and I can't wait to visit Basilan again someday. The work goes on. Let's continue to work together to #buildhope and #endpoverty." - Gia Leanne Luga, GK Worker

June 3, 7:45 PM

"Kami ang mangunguna sa gawaing ito. Dapat sa amin magsimula ang solusyon. Hindi yung sa next 3 months, sa next 3 years, kami pa rin ang problema. Gusto naming kapayapaan na ang nasa isip nating lahat. Gusto naming maisip nyo, ah, pwede pala kaming pumunta ng Sulu." - Fatimatuzzahra Alfad Abdulmajid, Jolo, Sulu

Bangsamoro youth leaders from each province and tribe present their challenges and plans, committing to work together and be the catalyst of change in their respective areas. Tumataya na ang kabataan para sa bayan. Ikaw, anong taya mo?

June 3, 3:06 PM

The youth of ARMM taking charge for the change they want to see in their respective barangays in the next 3 months. - Claire Ericta, GK Worker

June 3, 2:52 PM

"Walang imposible pag walang iwanan!" Bangsamoro youth coming together to build hope in their home towns. - Dan Bercasio, GK Worker

June 3, 11:23 AM

"Ang Gawad Kalinga ay hindi nandito para magturo. Nandito kami para pakinggan kayo. Para marinig ang mga kwento at boses ninyo. Sabay sabay tayo sa paglalakbay. Walang iwanan!"

Kuya Dan Requejo Bercasio gives the 'Kabataan ang Pag-asa ng Bayan' talk at the Bangsamoro Youth Hope Conference, to a crowd of over 300 youth from 10 Moro tribes all over Mindanao.

June 3, 8:43 AM

Boodlefight at Barira, Maguindanao, one of Gawad Kalinga's stronghold in Mindanao.
According to a local leader, after the all out war in the area, GK was among the first who forged peace.

June 3, 6:40 AM

"Ang saya malaman na marami pala kaming nangangarap ng mas magandang kinabukasan dito sa Mindanao."

Our GK youth join the 300-strong delegation composed of the Teduray and 10 Moro tribes for the Bangsamoro Youth Conference smile emoticon Excited to be among the young hope weavers and peace builders in Mindanao, and looking forward to hearing their aspirations and action plans. A big thanks to our friends from the AFP for providing transportation and accommodations for our delegates and service team! - Issa Cuevas-Santos, GK Worker

June 2, 6:00 PM

"GK in Camp Abubakar. The site of a war that fragmented families 10 years ago. Now a peaceful community of 179 gk houses and 7 classrooms. No incident of armed conflict since then. For these kids Fear was replaced with hope and joy built by their neighborhood heroes! The peace generation is rising!" - Jose Luis Oquinena, GK Executive Director

June 2, 3:24 PM

"Walang imposible pag walang iwanan!!! ❤

Over 300 youth from Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Zamboanga Peninsula, Davao and Lanao del Norte are here in the historic Bangsamoro Youth Hope Conference, ready to build peace and a future full of hope for the next generation." - Gia Leanne Luga, GK Worker

June 2, 2:59 PM

"Returning to the GK Village and the school we built 9 yrs ago inside Camp Abubacar in Barira, Maguindanao and has since produce several college graduates was very heartwarming.

May KAPAYAPAAN pag WALANG IWANAN!" - Jose Mari Oquinena

June 2, 2:41 PM

"1st Bangsamoro Youth Hope Conference at Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Complex." - Dhang Tecson, GK Worker

June 2, 2:18 PM

"15 years ago, during the all out war, Noronisa, Monaira, and Haula were just 6 years old. They would hear planes approaching or gunfire erupting, and they would scamper in various directions, hide in rice fields or take cover somewhere, anywhere. They would cry out in fear.

Their families sought shelter away from Barira: in neighboring towns, in the mountains, somewhere, anywhere. Only in 2006, when the Camp Abubakar GK Village was built, did they find the courage to finally come home. There was happiness, but there was also hesitation. What if war erupts again? What if more relatives die? But they stayed, and slowly, they started rebuilding their lives.

These 3 girls were part of the 1st batch of Grade 6 pupils in the elementary school inside Camp Abubakar. Their classroom was a makeshift tent and rain would drip on their books. But they persisted.
Today, they are now college graduates. They told me they all took up Education because they want to teach in the community they grew up in, and ensure that the children will have a future full of hope. They told me that their memories of the war are still fresh, but the fear is no longer there. And they will do everything they can to build a kinder, more peaceful world for themselves and the rest of the community.
Building peace, just like ending poverty, does not happen overnight. But I look at Noronisa, Monaira and Haula, as well as all the children we met in the Camp Abubakar GK Village today, and know in my heart that love is the only thing that can drive out fear. And more than the willingness to fight, it's the courage to care that will sow the seeds of lasting peace. Together, we can ‪#‎endpoverty‬.

Para sa Diyos at para sa bayan, walang iwanan!" - Gia Leanne Luga, GK Worker

June 2, 12:51 PM

"Having a candid conversation with community leaders in Camp Abubakar. We can't remain to be bystanders. When communities experience that we genuinely care for them, our words of encouragement and our perspective for peace will actually mean something in their/our shared journey to peace." - Jose Luis Oquinena, GK Executive Director

June 2, 12:33 PM

"Pinili ko pong maging teacher para makatulong sa mga kabataan na makapag-aral at magkaroon ng magandang kinabukasan."

Haijla Nor, Monaira Nor and Noronisa Hassan were among the evacuees when government declared all-out war with the MILF. When GK started the village nine years ago (thanks to Smart), we also built the elementary school in partnership with Petron and these three were the first batch of students to attend and graduate. Today, they serve as proud teachers in the same school smile emoticon When we give the best for the least, the least become the best. What an incredible affirmation of our mission, and GK is even more committed to expand and deepen our work with them! - Issa Cuevas-Santos

June 2, 11:34 AM

Caravan of GK Youth from North Cotabato, Lanao Del Norte, Sulu, Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao going to the office of the Regional Governor in Cotabato City for the 1st Bangsamoro Youth Hope Conference. - Dhang Tecson, GK Worker 

June 1, 11:38 PM

"Our day started at 3 AM and we just wrapped up our 6th meeting and traversed countless towns in ARMM, from Sultan Kudarat to Cotabato City. I thought I'd fall asleep after 21 hours, but my heart is restless just recalling all I have seen and heard, and recalling the years when we first stepped into Muslim territory to build bridges of friendship and peace. We did not know what we were doing, we were just guided by our genuine desire to help and we found the right partners whose commitment fueled the work all these years, despite challenges and difficulties.

What a blessing it is to know that nothing is ever lost when we decide to love, and that courage to care will always bring about transformation that cannot be undone. Thank you Mindanao for shaping not just GK's history but my own personal history too. Thank you GK for showing me that peace may seem elusive, but it is possible - we can build it one family and one community at a time. And thank you Lord for calling us by name and entrusting this work to imperfect stewards like us. The work continues, and we forge ahead with even greater passion and conviction." - Issa Cuevas-Santos

June 1, 6:51 PM

"Nostalgic as we honor the memory of Former Mayor Alex Tomawis of Barira, Maguindanao by initiating a more expanded intervention for GK residents in Camp Abubakar. It has been a decade since we first stepped into the former MILF Headquarters, and it is deeply rewarding to hear stories of transformation and a legacy of lasting peace. Truly, nothing is lost when we share genuine friendship and brotherhood. Today, the work continues with the brother of Alex, now-Mayor Abdul Radzak Tomawis and Army Lt. Col. Taharudin Ampatuan. Excited to see the thriving GK community tomorrow, built with the help of our friends from Smart Communications and Petron Foundation." - Issa Cuevas-Santos, GK Worker 

June 1, 4:41 PM

"Breaking bread, listening and building relationships - this is how every single GK community is born. Spent the afternoon doing a site visit and discussion with the LGU of Rajah Buayan (Maguindanao) and the 40th Infantry Battalion to understand local context that will impact on house design and community organizing, share learnings and discuss immediate next steps so we can start the GK village as soon as possible. Excited to see how we can impact on all 11 barangays of this town, starting with Brgy. Zapacan. " - Issa Cuevas-Santos, GK Worker

June 1, 1:38 PM

"Rekindling relationships with Maguindanao Governor Toto Mangudadatu, who used to be the Mayor of Buluan and was one of the first two Mayors (the other one was Mayor Totoy Paglas) who introduced Gawad Kalinga to ARMM.

We also met with his son, King, who is now the Vice Mayor of Buluan. Looking forward to collaborating again to grow GK's work in the province." - Issa Cuevas-Santos, GK Worker

June 1, 10:21 AM

Final briefing for the 1st Bangsamoro Youth Hope Conference

June 1, 10:19 AM 

"GK believes that the battleground for solidarity is in Mindanao."

"GK leaders meet with Lt. Col. Mamon and Mayor Zamzamin Ampatuan of Rajah Buayan (town next to Mamasapano, Maguindanao) where we will build another 22 homes. Our previous communities were built along the highway, but this is our first time to build in inner areas, building more bridges of peace. Recalling the first few years of GK work with Muslim brethren and so honored to see how the work continues to grow in the 20 Muslim GK communities where we are present. Now, we are ready to expand." - Issa Cuevas-Santos, GK Worker

May 30, 6:01 PM

"Dati sa hirap ng buhay iniisip namin, bahala na, bahala na ang Diyos kung makatapos pa yung mga anak namin sa pag-aaral. Pero ngayong nandito na kami, nararamdaman namin ang pagbabago. Mahirap pa rin ang buhay, pero nakikita na namin na pwede talagang mangarap at magsumikap. Iniisip na namin na posible talagang makatapos sila, na sana mas mahigitan pa nila yung natapos namin."  - Toto Gonzales, Kapitbahayan President, Berjaya-GK Village, Brgy. Sagasa, Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat

"Spending the last Sunday afternoon of May in a Gawad Kalinga community brought us back to the heart and soul of this work. Years from now, the vibrant colors of these houses may fade, but I know the smiles in these children's faces won't. I know that they will be free to dream and carve their own future, and it is a future full of HOPE.

That said, the journey out of poverty is not something that can be done overnight. And the problems won't magically disappear. But we will give it our very best. And we will never leave.

Para sa Diyos at para sa bayan, walang iwanan!" - Gia Leanne Luga, GK Worker

May 30, 4:58 PM

"Every time I think of giving up, I always ask myself, what will happen to these children?

All these years, I taught them not to limit themselves to what people say they can or cannot become. I taught them never to give up, because I don't want them to end up like me. What I dream for my children, I also dream for them. Today, almost everyone from the first batch of Sibol students are in 3rd year high school. I'm so proud of my students." - Katiang Mamangkas Dimalanes, Sibol Teacher and Kapitbahayan, GK Purok Islam

"Teachers Katiang, Nenet, and Mels (R-L in photo) have voluntarily run the Sibol (early childhood development) program in their respective GK villages for 10 years, living out their mission to leave no child behind no matter how difficult times get. Their unconditional love and sacrifice have built a future full of HOPE for thousands of children (and parents) in GK Purok Islam, Sultan Kudarat and GK Datu Paglas, Maguindanao.

What a privilege to have spent this afternoon with them. I can't wait to write their story and share it to the world." - Gia Leanne Luga, GK Worker

3-day Bangsamoro youth conference kicks off next week

*This article was published on last May 29, 2015. For the online version, click HERE.

Cotabato City (29 May 2015) – Unprecedented in the history of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), the Coordinating and Development Office on Bangsamoro Youth Affairs (CDO-BYA) will conduct a youth gathering dubbed as Bangsamoro Youth Hope Conference from June 2 to 4 in Cotabato City.

“It is a joint project of ARMM government and Gawad Kalinga Community Development Foundation Inc.,” said Tom del Monte, executive director of CDO-BYA.

Gawad Kalinga is a nongovernmental movement that aims at eradicating poverty and restore human dignity among the poor. It is currently active in over 2,000 communities nationwide and has been recognized as 2006 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee and 2012 Skoll Awardee for Social Entrepreneurship.

The three-day conference gathers active Moro youth from ARMM and nearby provinces to equip them with knowledge in nation-building, poverty eradication, and contribution to peace and development in Mindanao.

“The Bangsamoro youth also plays a vital role in nation-building so their participation in activities like this is important,” added del Monte. At least 300 participants are expected from over 400 youth organizations, including out-of-school-youth groups, certified by CDO-BYA. (Bureau of Public Information)

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