For the first time since its inception, the Festival of Love and Peace organized by Save the Children of War (Basilan) Association Inc. was brought to the doorsteps of 500 children across three municipalities in Basilan, in an effort to conduct the event while observing health and safety protocols in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This year’s theme for the festival, Adversity is not a Hindrance to Peace, emphasizes how peace remains possible in our communities despite challenges we are currently facing, especially if the people of the Bangsamoro will continue to work together in solidarity towards just and lasting peace.

Beneficiaries of this year’s festival were mostly children of former combatants residing in Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) camps located in Brgy. Baas, Lamitan City; Brgy. Silangkum, Tipo-tipo; and Brgy. Ulitan, Ungkaya Pukan.

Minority Floor Leader MP Atty. Laisa Masuhud Alamia has been consistent in her support for the annual festival, donating bicycles for its beneficiaries in the past three years. This year, the festival takes on a different approach by encouraging beneficiaries to give up their toy guns in exchange for new bicycles. The symbolic exchange echoes the spirit of the decommissioning process — an integral part of the normalization process in the Bangsamoro region.

In a message shared with the communities who took part in the event, MP Alamia said that she continues to support the annual Festival because she believes that it is important “to remind our children that we must take the opportunity to choose peace every day.” 

Dr. Arlyn Jawad Jumao-as, president of Save the Children of War, expressed her thanks to MP Alamia’s continued efforts to uphold children’s rights while pushing for just and lasting peace in the Bangsamoro. Other partners who made the event possible were the 18th Infantry and 68th Infantry Battalions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the MILF Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces in Basilan, and the provincial government of Basilan.