Today I saw what happens when you bring youth from different “worlds” together. I saw teens who grew up in Manila talk to their counterparts in Mindanao, Muslims and Christians, over skype, as if they were old friends.
They met last month during a 5-day conference. For the Manilenyos, it was the first time for a lot of them to go to Mindanao, and it was their first time to meet a Muslim. Today, during the Peace Tech Youth Ambassadors Assembly, I saw the kids ask our staff (us), to call up their friends in Mindanao. They wanted to say hi. My boss contacted the coordinator in the school and they gathered everyone. The teens were so happy to see their friends. They spoke and laughed and exchanged stories and jokes over skype, trying to cram one month into minutes. They took pictures “together”— the teens in Manila crowded around the projector that showed the video of the teens in Mindanao, and the teens in Mindanao crowded in the classroom to make sure everyone was seen through the video.
It was so heartwarming to see. It is so rare to see Muslims and Christians interacting here in the Philippines, much less interacting as friends and without prejudice. We might as well be living in two different countries when it comes to Manila and Mindanao. These are teens maturing with a mindset of peace. Growing up in a time where Muslim was a byword for fear, it is wonderful to see the next generation grow up wanting to bridge the gap that has divided my country so deeply that we’ve gone to war because of it. But now we’ve got the means to help people understand that we are one people, we really are brothers and sisters. The teens today were calling each other such, whether the person with the mic on the other side was wearing a hijab or not, whether s/he was Muslim or Christian. It was a beautiful sight. I really hope that this generation can bring that lasting peace that has long eluded us.