Quantcast
Latest Stories

Youth united against war

By , Michelle Patricia Ramos Vida Tirol-de Juan and Stephanie Zamora Contributors

ASIAN Youth Forum 2013 Philippine Delegation: Ted Bonitez, Rheymar Barroga, Benedict Ella, Vida Tirol-de Juan, Nathalie Malabato, Commissioner Georgina Nava, Stephanie Zamora, Michelle Patricia Ramos, Cesar Ong, Christ Catubig

Under the blistering heat of the sun, the Mekong River stood as a mute witness while the Khmer Rogue took over Phnom Penh and brought almost two million of its inhabitants to the hinterlands for a life of hard and bloody agricultural labor between 1975 to 1979.

In those years, the fields of Cambodia became the burial ground of intellectuals and nonbelievers of the ruling regime. It was known infamously as the Killing Fields.

Roughly 30 years since Pol Pot and the Khmer Rogue were ousted from power, Cambodia has gone a long way from its notorious history. Traffic jams on the Russian Highway, bustling public markets and ongoing construction of new buildings in downtown Phnom Penh are testaments to progress in Cambodia.

 

Fear

In spite of the obvious positive changes in Cambodia, particularly in its capital city, remnants of a not-so-distant but extremely horrendous past continue to haunt the survivors of Pol Pot’s murderous regime. They continue to fear that the peace they struggled to sustain will be shattered by a culture of impunity which grew out of that regime. This fear is widely shared by numerous Asian countries.

Bou Meng, a survivor from Khmer Rouge S-21 prison, wakes up in the middle of the night in cold sweat, vividly seeing in his dreams the beatings he suffered, or his unconscious fellow prisoners hanging by their fingers, before he fell into unconsciousness. It is a common site to see armless or legless survivors of landmine blasts.

On May 31 to June 2, youth leaders from Southeast Asian countries such as the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore, as well as other Asian countries like China, Yemen and Mongolia, met in Phnom Penh for the Asian Youth Forum.

A total of 22 countries attended the forum. Each country discussed experiences of conflict and the greater role of the youth in promoting peace.

 

Witness to peace

Delegates from the Philippines, Vida Tirol-de Juan and Stephanie Zamora, shared their experiences of conflict in their hometowns. “Bohol is barely recognizable now, from 20 years before,” said De Juan. “In the past, communist rebels occupied its outskirts. However, since 2000, through cooperative efforts of the locals and the local government, the insurgency was pacified. The hills of Bohol stand witness to peace efforts and development of the province.”

Zamora, who is from Pampanga, inspired her fellow youth when she claimed that “peace can still be found in conflict zones.” She narrated the story of her friend who did volunteer work in Sultan Kudarat. She said that in the town of Kalamansig, people practice pintakasi or bayanihan (community cooperation).

The ongoing conflict has brought people of the community closer to each other. Put simply, the community became one big family, willing to provide care and protection for each other. She concluded that peace need not be costly, if only people will realize the value of life. Each war they wage and each life lost is a wasted future.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said they rebuilt Cambodia from scratch after Pol Pot’s regime. For the past 30 years, they worked very hard to rise again. Now they are experiencing peace, but they cannot be complacent. They are relying on the youth to continue the job and they need to invest in the youth in order to ensure economic progress.

Indeed, peace efforts should be community-based and reflective of the values and sentiments important to Filipinos. It should be a just, equitable, humane, principled and peaceful resolution of armed conflicts.

Education

Singapore extended the discussion on peace by suggesting integration of peace education in the curriculum. Stacie Henson from Singapore believes that education continues to be a vital tool in teaching the youth to abhor violence.

As the conference ended, the participants decided to set aside their countries’ ideological, economic and cultural differences. Also, they agreed on a unanimous declaration on the vital role of the youth in promoting peace.

They agreed that peaceful negotiation has to be seen as something more than just ending a war. It has to be comprehensive and holistic development of society. Though it is not obvious where to begin the process of conflict resolution, it is always more important to open communication lines with parties involved.

Strolling around the streets of Phnom Penh reminded us of Manila. Though armed conflicts in the city have long been gone, the cost of war continues to be evident.


Follow Us


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: 2bu , Cambodia , Khmer Rogue , Killing Fields , Mekong River , Youth



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. How to enjoy Buntod
  2. Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  3. Life lessons I want to teach my son
  4. No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  5. ‘Wild West’ Masbate’s pristine marine gems
  6. The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  7. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  8. Homemade yogurt, bread blended with pizza, even ramen
  9. What has happened to Barrio Fiesta and Singing Cooks & Waiters?
  10. Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  4. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  5. Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  6. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  7. This is not just a farm
  8. President Quezon was born here–and so was Philippine surfing
  9. Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  10. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  3. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  4. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  10. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer

News

  • Afghan hospital guard kills 3 American doctors
  • Obama rejects notion that trade deal is in danger
  • [VIDEO] No assurances on Janet Lim-Napoles’ bid to become state witness
  • South Sudan president fires long-time army leader
  • Grenade explodes outside MPD Station 1
  • Sports

  • Pacquiao can dodge tax issues
  • F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone rejects bribery charges
  • Big Chill freezes Cafe France to arrest skid
  • Pacquiao has to go through PBA Rookie draft
  • Guiao summoned by PBA for name-calling incident
  • Lifestyle

  • Gongs and southern dances star in a workshop at San Francisco Bayanihan Center
  • This woman ate what?
  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • 12th Philippine Food Expo set at the World Trade Center
  • No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  • Entertainment

  • Smithsonian wants photos, videos for ‘Day in the Life of Asian Pacific Americans’
  • What Garcia Marquez left behind
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Business

  • Metro Pacific acquires stake in Victorias
  • How ‘one percent’ economic elite was uncovered
  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Technology

  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • Obama to visit Filipino soldiers in Fort Bonifacio
  • Fil-Am youth conferences unite under one theme
  • Embassy advisory: Filipinos still need visas to enter US
  • No travel restriction to Mideast, DFA clarifies
  • PH-HK relations repaired, but families of victims still being courted
    Marketplace