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Home » Featured Stories » AdZU honors peace activist and Mindanawon artist in Special Recognition 2014

AdZU honors peace activist and Mindanawon artist in Special Recognition 2014

The Ateneo de Zamboanga University, in its commitment to honor exemplary individuals with relevant contributions to the values it upholds, organizes the Ateneo Special Recognition every year. For 2014 the AdZU Board of Trustees has approved the conferment of the Ateneo Special Recognition to two leaders who have made significant contributions in their respective fields.

The ATENEO PEACE RECOGNITION was conferred upon DR STEVEN ROOD for his significant contribution as an influential public intellectual and a passionate peace activist and for his scholarly works which bring to light socio-political issues that impact on peace and development in Mindanao and the Philippines. Dr Rood is the Country Representative for The Asia Foundation. He is currently serving as a member of the Third Party Monitoring Team for the implementation of the peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The FR EDUARDO P HONTIVEROS SJ RECOGNITION FOR CULTURE AND ARTS was conferred upon MR REY MUDJAHID PONCE “KUBLAI” MILLAN for his exemplary contribution to the propagation of the Filipino heritage and for his enrichment of the Mindanawon character through his immense and distinctive works of art.

A special forum with the conferees was held on August 15 2014, 8:30 AM at the Carlos Dominguez Conference Hall. The university administration, students, and stakeholders from various organizations and groups in the city were present during the forum. Both awardees were asked to share their stories about the work that they do in their respective fields.

Inspiration and Collaboration

Mr Kublai Millan showcased his works of arts that are installed all over the Philippines, majority of which are in Mindanao. He emphasized on the reflective nature of his job and how it helped him rediscover himself as a Mindanawon. Drawing his inspiration from the stories of people in the community, he works with a team in the construction of the massive monuments that have become his signature pieces. He also uses other medium depending on the nature of his subjects. When asked about the importance of representing the culture of the areas where he creates his work, he asserted that it is important that an artist is immersed in the community to gain a better grasp of its values, stories, and people.

Doctor Rood, on the other hand, told a story of how he arrived in the Philippines ignorant to the peace process. He began his work in the University of the Philippines Baguio learning about the Cordillera People’s struggle for self-determination. He emphasized that the recognition he is accepting is not an individual award. He identified his partner organizations who have helped Asia Foundation particularly in conducting research on the conflict that occurs in Mindanao. Their research revealed that experience of conflict in Mindanao was more about family and clan feuds, which is now more popularly known as the Rido. This research opened the doors for other efforts to help address the peace situation in the island until his current commitment as a member of the third party monitoring team for the GPH-MILF Peace Agreement. He claims that he is constantly learning and striving to overcome his ignorance by reading, interacting with people, and working on improving his knowledge more.

The open forum that followed the awardees’ talks revolved around the source of inspiration for the work being done by both gentlemen, issues of conflict and violence in Mindanao and the world and the role the government plays at finding resolution, and the chance of collaboration between the two awardees and how Zamboanga City can have a Kublai piece to signify its efforts at rehabilitation after last year’s siege.

Gratitude and Hope

The Ateneo Special Recognition Convocation followed on the afternoon at 3:30 pm at the Multi-Purpose Covered Courts.

The official conferment of the awards took place. A musical interlude was given by the AdZU Concert Band to entertain the guests present. Both awardees expressed their gratitude in being recognized for their work. Dr Rood expressed hope for the success of the peace agreement for the proposed Bangsamoro entity in Mindanao. Mr Kublai encouraged Mindanawons to fall in love with their homeland and to dedicate their lives to Mindanao.

In his closing remarks, Father President Karel S San Juan SJ expressed his gratitude for the dedication that the awardees have practiced in their lifetime as peace advocates. He identified them as sources of inspiration and as leaders. He declared, “To be inspired is to be moved to a better place. To be inspired is to be elevated in mind and spirit, to reach a higher level of consciousness. To be inspired is to be more alive. This afternoon, Ateneo thanks two extraordinary men who have inspired us.”

Every year the members of the AdZU community nominate individuals to be awarded during the Recognition ceremony. The nominations are submitted to the university’s Board of Trustees for deliberation. For this year, the AdZU BOT chose Dr Rood and Mr Millan as recipients of the said awards.