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Peace is a universal yearning. Peoples and communities are in search of ways to restore peace and social justice. Seen in this context, peace is a broad and dynamic process which falls for non-violent relations between nations, groups, individuals and human beings and environment. It has its basis in true justice which is a full respect for other communities and persons.

Western Mindanao is still an area of conflict in matters of culture, politics and religious belief. This conflict is rooted in events that have occurred over the past 450 years when the Spaniards began their colonization of the Philippines and attempted to control the social, economic and political realities of Western Mindanao, Cotabato and other areas in Mindanao.

The past thirty years has been a time of great turmoil and subsequent migrations in Western Mindanao by various groups. This has led to a wider dispersion and mixture of various ethnic groups in the region. To this must be added the actual military conflict that ensued for over three years in the 1970s and that still occurs sporadically in the region.

In simple terms, Western Mindanao and Zamboanga City are not in a “peace” situation. Little is known of the “Culture of Peace.” But peace cannot be achieved except by a change in the people themselves in the conflict areas. And this effort to achieve peace will have to be systematic, structural and long-range.