FPE101 Learning Visit went back to the 549th Engineering "Kapayapaan" Battalion

On June 23, 2023, FPE101 students had their Learning Visit and Culmination Activity at 549th Engineering “Kapayapaan” Battalion, Camp Siongco, Brgy. Awang, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao del Norte. This activity was initiated by the Institute for Peace and Development in Mindanao of MSU-Maguindanao, FPE101 faculty, and the University Peace Club in partnership with the 549th Engineering “Kapayapaan” Battalion and 54th Engineer Brigade headed by its Commanding Officer, LTC Donald Hugo and its Civil Military Operations Officer, 1LT Hock Guan de Leon. The FPE101 learning visit started on the 1st semester of the Academic Year 2022-2023 and is one of the university’s efforts to improve its programs for peace education. It generally aims to provide FPE101 students with first-hand experiences on peacebuilding works, and identify the intersectionality of the academic communities towards sustainable development.

During the opening program, 1LT De Leon extended his gratitude to the University for always being a good partner when it comes to achieving their Brigade’s aim of “Helping People and Building Communities” . IPDM Dir. Prof. Lu also discussed the rationale of the program – how learning visit as such really gives impact to FPE101 students on their perspectives about youth empowerment and peace building. LTC Hugo also gave his message through MAJ Franzjun Macatual, Executive Officer of 549th Engineering “Kapayapaan” Battalion. In his message, he said that the “Kapayapaan” Battalion fully supports initiatives that help young people become instruments of peace by increasing their knowledge and understanding of issues related to peace, conflict, and violence, encouraging their active engagement in these endeavors, and enhancing their knowledge, abilities, and competencies in these fields.

The Learning Visit was composed of series of panel discussions on different issues concerning peacebuilding embedded to food security, governance, education, climate justice, culture and religion. The first session was on Women, Peace and Security, and Youth and Development Work Programs. This session was paneled by Comm. Nasserudin Dunding, Commissioner of the Bangsamoro Youth Commission, Ms. Trina Marie Ladub-Herrera, President of Junior Chamber International-Cotabato, Dr. Margie Fiesta, Committee Chair on the creation of WPS Program of MSU-Maguindanao, and representatives from the Philippine Army: PFC Claire Setiar, PVT Rizzalyn Labos, 1LT Teodoro Pumarada and 1LT Jan Michael Senecio. During the discussion, each of them shared the efforts of the organization they represent and shared how important the roles of students or the youth in these areas of advocacies. They also encouraged the FPE101 students to step out and be the voice of those who cannot speak; and be the stewards of the Bangsamoro history.

The Session on Strengthening Peace Advocacies through Civic Engagement and Good Governance was paneled by the Dean of CAS Dr. Badrudin K. Abdul, Dean of CPAG Dr. Datuali P. Abdula, Dean of CED Dr. Joel C. Arenas, and CPT Gilbert Nozal and CPT Floyd Pescado, both from Philippine Army. They discussed the needs for civic engagement and good governance in building peaceful environments both in the lens of the academe and men in uniform. They also shared and inspired the FPE101 students on their different civic engagements that brought positive change to the community.

Last session was on Peace Advocacies in the Lens of Food Security and Climate Justice paneled by COA Dean Engr. Jeanneflor S. Tong, COF Dean Prof. Jonald C. Bornales, CFES Dean Dr. Rowena C. Benavides, and 1LT De Leon from Philippine Army. They discussed the need to know this intersectionality – that the people on the ground were not just dealing with war, but also with the food on their table. They also mentioned the need to look at the problem in holistic manner; how this aspect will cause and suit to the peace building in their province so that they can address the issue about the side of food security.

Aside from these fruitful panel discussions, boodle fight, battalion tour, and performances from the U-PeaC were also part of the learning visit. Mr. Alvin Lois E. Pembarat, the University Peace Club Adviser, closed the program by congratulating the FPE101 students in reaching to the final session of their class – the Learning Visit. Further, he also challenged them to reach out to their communities because peace building is always a shared responsibility.