Hundreds of young Filipinos coming together

Hundreds of young Filipinos from the top of Luzon to the bottom of Mindanao came together today for the first time in a live dialogue on giant screens.

About 600 youth participated in the launching of a new kind of talk show series called “PeaceTech”. The series is all about building understanding through seven videoconferences focusing on peace and conflict.

The dialogues are also a modal for a global talk show that will connect youth from different countries around the world.

Between now and the end of the year, PeaceTech will leverage technology to unite youth instantly. By doing so, it aims to magnify the voice of children and youth on issues such as prejudice, poverty, armed conflict and peace building.

Today’s videoconference linked youth from a diverse range of backgrounds: AFP; victims of war and prejudice; Indigenous Peoples; Muslims; Christians; out-of-school youth; and students were some of the participants. And they came from many regions such as: Zamboanga del Sur; Maguindanao; Negros Occidental; Manila; the Cordillera; and Isabella.

UNICEF, AusAID and the Assisi Development Foundation are the main supporters of the series. UNICEF head for the Philippines, Dr. Nicholas K. Alipui, gave the opening speech.

Canadian manager of PeaceTech, Robin Pettyfer, said: “it was amazing to see youth come together on the screens. How often do you have an AFP solider speaking with a victim of war? How often can a poor 12-year girl from Negros talk with a Muslim girl from Manila about her future? Well, today that happened!”

Senator Ramon Magsaysay says: “The series is badly needed in a world where conflict is increasing. Whether it is in Israel and Lebanon, or Iraq and the United States, the world needs an international medium where young people can come together. PeaceTech does that. It’s an honour that AusAid and UNICEF want to start this in the Philippines.”

PeaceTech. is relevant to the Philippines where geography restricts inter-group dialogue. It gives young people in remote areas an opportunity to instantly reach out. And it provides security by allowing participants to meet with youth in insecure areas.

Its organizers don’t want the series to be just talk. They are approaching the Department of Education in hope that schools will use CDs from the dialogues in social studies classes. PeaceTech is also leveraging the Internet so that participants can continue their dialogues in on-line chats.

Many universities, schools, and community groups are involved in the series including Youth Aid. OPAPP is also involved. PLDT is providing the technology.

The next dialogue — PeaceTech 2 – happens August 28.

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