Courageous Women in Conflict Transformation

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By Gingging Avellanosa-Valle

Bahin sang Bubay

Saturday, March 8, 2014

WHEN I sat with the women staff of the Ecosystems Work for Essential Benefits (ECOWEB Inc.) sometime ago, as they went about their work in trying to get conflicting parties to the negotiating table, I could not help but be awed with their no non-sense courage in what I see as a nerve wracking and risky endeavor. Their task was to get all the stakeholders in the community to sit down and try to facilitate the smooth exchange if ideas and opinions.

In one of these meetings, I was able to witness first-hand how adept they were in going about their tasks. Ecoweb senior staff Ms. Precious Derro was listening intently to the Maranao Barangay Captain who was giving the group of about 10 participants among the Moro residents and Visayan settlers who were affected by the problem, while Ms. Cherlita Amores was taking notes carefully, asking clarification from time to time.

The place was in a village in the Municipality of Kolambugan in the province of Lanao del Norte where life is a constant run. The Ecoweb staff have seen the worst that could happen in a not-so progressive town in this part of Mindanao, and have since committed to work for peace together with the many like-minded individuals and civil organizations who wanted peace as much as the populace that are constantly disturbed by the in-fighting in their midst.


Living for some time in Kolambugan, Ms. Amores is a picture of a steadfast peace advocate who could not keep still when there are things to be done. Her humble abode by the sea is a testament of the strength of spirit that has made her work tirelessly to go about her task.

Having two beautiful children who are living with her could have been the impetus that has continuously kept her on her toes as she went about her duty to talk with the squabbling parties, even when at times, her ailing husband also requires her attention.

The chance for me to learn about these wonderful women was brought about by a case study that I had to make about their organization as a non-government organization working for sustainable and Inclusive Economic Development of the Bangsamoro, which was commissioned by the Sustainable Cooperation for Equitable Enterprise Development Inc. (SUCCEED, Inc.) and funded by Cordaid.

Considering that the situation could get worse without them knowing it, the women of Ecoweb have always been ready for any situation and would not back down even if they would hear about certain updates discouraging them to push through with their schedules in the field.

It had not only become just another “part of the job” thing for them, but the risks and challenges they face each day have become a distinct part of themselves, such that it has become their very existence.

How could women dedicate themselves so wholly to these peace efforts to the extent that they have made their work a household matter? How can women give so much without counting the cost? There are a few exceptional cases among the male species doing the same but sadly, they are few and far between.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 08, 2014.


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