The Philippines is divided by more than 7,000 islands. Its geography restricts inter-youth dialogue. Armed conflict in certain areas of Mindanao and Luzon pit Muslim and Indigenous groups against a Christian based government. Minority groups in Metro Manila, Mindanao and Indigenous areas throughout the Philippines experience prejudice. Mistrust exists between different cultural groups because of armed conflict and prejudice.
The Philippines is no exception. Throughout the world, tensions between cultural groups are increasing. This is partly due to advances in communication and transportation, which are bringing different groups together for the first time. Tensions are exacerbated by limited resources, irresponsible leadership, and fear.
Ignorance and apathy also contribute to conflict. The level of interest in improving social conditions remains low, particularly in the Philippines. According to a national study of Filipino youth conducted by Social Weather Station (SWS), only 10% of youth join youth organizations, 3% join charitable organizations, and 1% join political parties. A majority suffers from ignorance, helplessness and apathy when asked how they can contribute to improving social problems. Limited education and dialogue, and corruption of leadership contribute to these failures. Thus the need for inter-youth dialogue and awareness building is imperative.
Institutionalized dialogues are needed on a regular basis between different groups to improve understanding and lower tensions. Ideally, groups need a television program where they can come together to discuss their differences. This is expensive. A series of videoconferences is a more economical short-term goal.
In January, 2006, the Assisi Development Foundation held a two-day videoconference that linked hundreds of Muslim and Indigenous youth in Cotobato City with youth at De La Salle University in Manila. The dialogue focused on the armed conflict in Mindanao. It was a pilot project for the series that the Assisi Foundation, Youth Aid and UNICEF are starting in July.