“This exercise as envisioned is meant to simulate our own collective experience of making and waging peace, in addition to getting a wider public interest and support for the Mindanao peace process. It is a symbolic act and a reminder to us all of what the work for peace entails: peace is action, peace is effort, peace is community, peace is reaching out, peace is going the extra mile,” Deles stressed during the bikefest held recently from Cotabato City to Upi, Maguindanao.
With the theme “Going the Extra Mile for Peace in Mindanao,” the Bike for Peace was initiated by the Government of the Philippines (GPH) peace panel for talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to gain heightened public support on the peace process. More than 600 participants from various sectors pedaled the 36-kilometer route from Cotabato City Hall to Upi Municipal Gymnasium.
Deles also said that the bikefest is a reminder of what it takes to achieve the goal of peace. “If it is not your training that will help you to stay the course, it will be your determination that will. If it is not your determination, it will be your companion who will. And if this would still not be enough, it will be your imagination that will help to bring you to the end of the journey.”
In her message, the peace adviser likewise underscored the “promise of faithful accompaniment that riders make to each other before embarking on a long and difficult journey,” which means nobody will be left behind.
“And this, in the peace process, is the appeal I want to make to all of you – walang iwanan. Magkakasama tayo hindi lang sa mga panahon ng tagumpay, kundi lalo na sa mga panahon na malubak ang kalsada at may mga kasamang nadadapa (Nobody shall be left behind. We shall be together not only in times of triumph, but especially in times when the road is rough and our companions stumble),” she said.
“When one of our companions in the peace process falls, I hope we will be like the bikeriders who faithfully provide accompaniment to their fallen fellow riders, instead of breaking away to get ahead of the pack. More than the experience of camaraderie is the experience of faithful accompaniment that I know we will truly experience today,” added Deles.
Public support to peace process
The Bike for Peace culminated at the Upi Municipal Gymnasium where Upians also held a program in celebration of their 11th anniversary of “Day of Peace.”
Deles attended the unveiling of the Tree of Peace marker that symbolizes the desire of the Upians to attain lasting peace in Mindanao.
“I hope the public will continually be involved in the peace process,” she stated. “Peace constituency is needed and this event has shown us how ordinary people can go the extra mile for peace.”
GPH panel chair Marvic Leonen called on the participants and the people of Upi to “spread the word: The government is resolute in achieving peace in Mindanao with the principled and pragmatic cooperation of the MILF and with the help of the people.”