MANILA, Oct. 10, 2015—Mindanao-based Fr. Sebastiano D’Ambra, PIME, led this year’s recipients of the Pamana ng Kapayapaan (Inheritance of Peace) awards for his work in promoting interreligious harmony and peace in Southern Philippines.
The Italian priest was cited for founding the Silsilah Dialogue Movement (SDM) in Zamboanga City, an organization that is advocating for peace and love of neighbor regardless of religion since 1984.
According to representatives of religious groups, academic communities, peace advocates and civil society groups that conferred the award in celebration of the United Nation’s International Day of Peace, Fr. D’Ambra’s initiative has brought various groups in Mindanao, including the aboriginal people, closer together because religious and cultural differences have been addressed and explained by the SDM.
The group also recognized the significant role played by the SDM in peace negotiations between the government and the Muslim rebel groups.
“I was informed that some friends shared with you my book CALL TO A DREAM and from that initial sharing you have found more information about me and the Silsilah Dialogue Movement,” Fr. D’Ambra said upon accepting the award last October 1 at the Far Eastern University.
“Yes, I have a dream: the dream to share with all I encounter in my life that we have to love all, because we are part of the same human family, people of different cultures and religions but created by the same God who loves all of us.
“I dream to inspire many to dream with me and together to live and promote the Culture of Dialogue, Path to Peace. For this reason, it is my strong desire to remain with you in the Philippines up to the end of my life,” he added.
Fr. D’Ambra cited the Zamboanga siege in 2013, wherein the SDM promoted the slogan “Why violence? Why not peace? We are brothers and sisters!”
“This is the time when we have to build bridges of peace and to find ways to harmonize the aspirations of the people. This is true also for our situation in Mindanao. It is time for both sides to meet in the middle and to find pragmatic solutions guided by sincere intentions, with the hope that along the way we continue to share and to improve what is needed for the common good,” he stressed out.
Aside from Fr. D’Ambra, Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) chief Dr. Persida Rueda-Acosta was conferred the National Peace Award for Public Service. Acosta was recognized for her strong dedication to the public by restoring people’s faith in the judicial systems.
Meanwhile, Bai Rohaniza Sumndad-Uzman, a Maranao Princess, was recognized for establishing “Teach Peace, Build Peace Movement,” with the mission to make every Filipino child a peace-builder. She was lauded for promoting peace and development in many parts of the country through education, inter-faith, inter-cultural and inter-generational engagement. (CBCPNews)