Asia West Pacific

Filipino Student Leaders: Offline is Online!

Using AVP Cultures of Peace Tools to Work Together

Oct. 26-29, 2019, Cagayan de Oro City, Mindanao, Philippines

The practice of stopping as introduced to student leaders and animators.  Photo: Melvin Pedrosa

Fifty-eight student leaders and adult animators from schools and universities in the Visayas and Mindanao gathered at San Jose de Mindanao Seminary, Cagayan de Oro City, on October 26-29, 2019. They reflected on the theme “Offline is Online: The Filipino Youth, Champions and Influencers of Digital Virtues and Citizenship.”

The student leaders are members of the Student Catholic Action of the Philippines, the oldest student movement in the country. Since the leadership first joined the Alternatives to Violence Project Basic Workshop in 2014, they have integrated the peace tools in their training and formation framework. Among the tools practiced at their leadership conference were:

  1. Stopping. The group stopped regularly to notice the beauty of life and the immense gift of choosing life’s goodness over violence and how this is essential for peace.
  2. Friendship through visiting. Following the student movement’s methodology of see-judge-act, participants visited different communities for a few hours. Their skill in visiting and interacting with people as equal human beings allowed them to enter into another world different from their own.
  3. Good listening. Each session focused on practicing availability and presence through listening.
  4. Excellent communication. The student leaders practiced self-disclosure, sharing their life experiences and questions, as well as listening to others, which drew out contributions from everyone.
  5. Social play. Participants played games together as a way to relax and get to know one another.
  6. Cooperative exercises. Student leaders offered reports and presentations in groups using creative methods.

Kins and Melvin accompanied the adult animators of the workshop and led the advisers in practicing emotional discharge and good companionship. The participants realized that to be a good companion with young people, one must practice being relaxed and non-anxious. Towards the end of the day, the animator leaders went to designated listening corners for younger students to talk to them openly.

Since the participants practiced stopping and staying in their core self from day one, they were able to remain calm and objective on the last day when a 6.6 magnitude earthquake rocked the island of Mindanao destroying 1,200 homes and ten schools. At the first aftershock, the student group decided to move outdoors to continue the meeting in safety. Everyone calming evacuated the building and keep going with their work outdoors!