Thursday, April 16, 2015

In a Place, called "Peace"

A WELCOMING ENTRANCE. The Peace Place in Central Java, Indonesia
I made a blog ( during my preparation and before I came to join the Alternatives to Violence Project Workshop at Peace Place in Pati, Central Java, Indonesia. From the reflection article I wrote, entitled, “Mission to a Place called Peace,” I started saying, “There is always a room for peace,” and ended it stating, “May the room wherein I will stay in the coming days create more rooms for peace after the workshop.” 

Indeed, after a week-long stay and immersion in Central Java last March 14 to 23, I can say that I did not finish my mission but instead it is all just starting. Today, I hope to begin to create a room for peace. I would like to share my reflection in three-fold. First, is all about the community experience that I had with the gentle people in Pati. Second, is my personal learning experience covering the three workshops on Basic AVP, Trauma Healing and Developmental Play. Lastly, is all about my plan of action or next steps and how I can personally integrate the learnings that I got out of the workshops I attended.
My Community Experience in Pati, Central Java
With Leili, one of my Muslim Friends
who volunteers at Peace Place
            I came to Indonesia for the first time and I knew that even though it is a Southeast Asian member-nation, it has a different culture and more so it has a majority Muslim population which is completely opposite to where I came from. I found it interesting, that even though I am very much open to interreligious dialogue and immersion, I still had doubts on how I can blend and understand the way my Muslim friends deal with their day to day living. I believe that these doubts came from the fear of terror I always see from the media which was associated to the difficult situations usually taking place in the predominantly Muslim areas in Southern Philippines. But, the first day of my stay in Peace Place changed it all. Most of my co-participants were Muslims and all of them are now my friends. The transforming experience is my testimony that friendship and peace takes place beyond borders, culture and even religions.
            During my free times in Pati, I walked around the village and proved that peace is truly possible in my country especially to the places always associated with terror and fear. I continue to pray as the peace process in Mindanao will yield fruits to create lasting harmony with our Muslim brothers and sisters. I am thankful to the genuine openness, acceptance and humility of my Muslim friends in Indonesia. During the workshops with them, I was able to appreciate more their religiosity and respect towards each other
ALL SMILES. Selfie shot with the kids of Peace Place after a fun-learning workshop.
Another memory treasure that I wanted to share is the gentleness of the Mennonites Community. I was able to attend two Sunday services with them and later found out that they are a minority in Indonesia. It is inspiring to know that even though they are quite small in terms of membership, they foster country-wide peace-building programs and activities. One great thing I learned from the Mennonites is the value of goodness and that each one is a blessing from above. Sharing the goodness and blessings are keys for lasting peace.
            Joining some of the facilitators and participants in a Quaker Meeting on Sunday afternoon was an experience of joy in silence. It was my first time to be with a Quaker gathering. It was a simple service yet in communion with the inner spirit and recognizing the inspiration of each present member in a circle.
My Personal Learning Experience on Peace Place Workshops
            The Basic AVP, Trauma Healing and Developmental play workshops were very meaningful and enriching. The three programs taught me a common aim in promoting peace within oneself, peace in building relationships and peaceful ways to educate and accompany personal and child development.
            Since this was the 2nd Basic AVP workshop that I had, the sessions reinforced me further in understanding how effective communication lead to peaceful relationships and conflict management. The Transforming Power Mandala once again reminded me how to find non-violent ways and practices in everyday living.
The participants working on a Trauma Healing Session, "River of Life"
  Though I found the Trauma Healing Workshop a bit short and limited, it helped me to recreate my memory lane and instead of finding the faults and uncomfortable judgments of my past, it dwelt on picking up the positive and good sides of it. The sessions carry emotions and being aware of the feelings offered me a release of bad memories and relief of emotional baggage. The sessions also led to actions that are transforming in nature.
            I enjoyed the workshop on developmental play. I became like a child again and was able to explore the early stages of learning and understanding my world. Though child-centric, what moved me from the workshop were the natural ways an adult can do on accompanying the developmental stages of learning. It taught me on giving importance to free play where one can naturally expand and discover what more I can do and create through artistic and logical means. Complex structures are made up of simple elements and to understand the whole of it is to have the ability to identify or distinguish the parts and their functions separately.

Me and my group mates in one of my favorite activities in Developmental Play Workshop
My Next Steps

My life commitment is to always find the joy in all things. Choosing to be happy is priceless. I am always in search for meaning and every day I am able to discover the genuine treasures of life.

To be happy is to embrace peace. The workshop sessions at Peace Place taught me the value of simple living and being a person for others. My first step is to regularly check whether I am having enough to things needed rather than getting more of my wants.  Next, is to be caring enough if there are those near me who need my assistance. Being faithful to proper time for rest, work, play and prayer are key elements to make a pact of peace to myself, physically and spiritually.
We are one amidst many faces of culture.

As a full-time youth worker in our organization, I am committing to share it with my co-staff making the program of AVP a part of our weekly meeting. The principles of developmental play will help us design our youth program modules. We hope to share and develop the skills, competencies and virtues to our members who are majority students and also the teacher-animators that accompany them. A concrete plan is to integrate AVP in our upcoming Students Chaplain and Animators Formation Exchange.

Now that I am a part of the AVP Philippines Team, I am privileged to serve in spreading the message of hope and excited to spread the good news to my friends that PEACE IS POSSIBLE.

I would like to thank all the people who have supported us all the way to the workshops in Pati and back to the Philippines. Thank you AVP Australia and the Friends Peace Teams in Asia West Pacific. Our gratitude to Valerie and Ludwig for doing all the efforts in requesting fundraising. We thank the community at Peace Place in Pati especially to Petrus, Nanik and Ninok. Also, we thank Vidya and Nadine for facilitating the workshops excellently.


YasminMarysia said...

I am glad that I can make a comment on this very thoughtful blog report Frence. I think your learnings will continue to deepen as you reflect on the similarities and differences between Indonesia and The Philippines. You have seen how people of Muslim background are also hungry for peace and the tools to bring it into being. You have played, recalled past difficulties, laughed together and discovered your own wisdom. May you use your learnings to spread alternatives to violence amongst student leaders and others where you live and work.

YasminMarysia said...

Actually it was Valerie Joy who made the comment.