(Welcome Address: #MSummit #MPower First National Moro Youth Conference, Finster Auditorium, ADDU, November 30, 2018.)
I WANT to share three things with the youth today. I know a lot of you are from communities that are not as exposed in the national media. It is easy to feel that you have been forgotten, and rightfully so. There is so much divide even between us — whether it is religious, cultural, or generational, that it may seem impossible to bridge.
We have not forgotten you. We remember, and because we remember, we are working to ensure that peace in all forms, peace in all sectors, peace in our hearts — is achieved.
The Al Qalam Institute was formed because there was a growing Muslim population here in the Ateneo de Davao. They felt like they had no safe space to turn to. Where would they pray? Where would they hear kutbah? Where do we perform ablution?
Yes, Ateneo de Davao University is a Filipino, Catholic, and Jesuit university. However, we share one common unifying factor: With our common Atenean identity, as men and women for others, it challenges us to look at each person’s cultural and religious background.
The reality is, there are Muslim students enrolled in the University. Their needs – be it physical, mental, or spiritual – are just as important as those who are Catholic or of any other religion. They need a space where they can freely practice their religion, inside their own school.
We heeded the call to give a voice to all Moros, especially the youth, not just in Ateneo but in the greater ummah of the country.
For the MSummit, we wish to see three things: Inspire, connect, and empower.
We wish to inspire the youth, to uplift them and to give them a national platform. We wish to connect Moro youth from all over the country, in order to strengthen our ties to each other in a way that has not been done before. Finally, we are here to empower; to give a voice a to the voiceless, to give light to a place where it was once dark.
In closing, having the fear of the unknown is a “normal” nature of humankind. They fear something that they cannot comprehend. They fear the youth when they become better and wiser than them. We should not hate them for having that fear.
We should engage them further, through dialogues and forums of understanding. We should love them for who and what they are. It will take one day at time, one step at a time. In time, we can and should liberate them of those fears. We must liberate them, in order to have a critical mind and become better Muslims.
That, through this event, is what we do and what we aim to accomplish. We should never get tired of doing what we believe can help our people. Ameen Ameen Ameen… may Allah (SWT) accept our prayers and continuously guide our people.