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SMALL PEACE RESEARCH GRANTS

GRANT AWARDEE: Ophelia Bing Duante, Philippines

“Muslim-Christian Dialogue: A case study of two communities in Zamboango City, Mindanao, Philippines”

Background

The Philippines is one of the countries in Asia with a history of holding Muslim-Christian dialogues. But it is in Mindanao that this inter-religious dialogue found direct relevance and immediate application due to the outbreak of the Moro rebellion launched by the MNLF under Misuari. The continuing tension and communal strife in the island underscore the urgent need for inter-religious dialogue.

Christian-Muslim dialogue in the Philippines, has its birth in Zamboanga City. So, it is in this city, specifically the communities of Villa Margarita in San Roque and Tierra Madre in Tumaga, that this research concentrates on to show how some Muslims and Christians who were affected by the armed conflict and driven by poverty were compelled to relocate found themselves residing in the same place. Direct physical contact is unavoidable. Thus, they have to find ways and means to co-exist peacefully and harmoniously with each other. And to some extent, they have achieved some degree of success in this noble endeavor. Their examples can be given serious consideration and possibly replicated or emulated by other communities if found relevant and applicable to their respective situations.

Goal
By doing a case study on the two communities, valuable lessons can be learned on how to effectively promote social cohesion as well as inter-cultural, political and economic solidarity between two peoples who are markedly different from each other in history, culture and religion but victims of the same armed conflict in Mindanao.

Research Strategies
The case study seeks to explore and describe Muslim-Christian communities from the standpoint of inter-religious dialogue as exemplified by Villa Margarita and Tierra Madre.
In this research, the following methods have been used:

  • Key informant interviews (elders, leaders, community animators)
  • Focus group discussions
  • Life stories of community elders and leaders
  • Community survey

Data analysis is conducted from the perspective of inter-faith relationships between primordial ties (individuals to the multi-ethnic community).

    The study explores the following dimensions:

  • Ethnic division among people in the community
  • Push-and-pull of ascribed cultural attributes and socio-economic
    and political environment

Project Status as of September 1, 2004

    Data collection completed:

  • Community survey of 75 and 67 houses of Vila margarita and Tierra Madre, respectively.
  • Interviews of past and present officers and leaders; and community animators
  • Focus group discussions of community members
  • Compilation of life stories of community elders and leaders

Review of Secondary data and related literature completed

Now preparing the write-up of the report.

The following chapters completed:

I Introduction
II The Setting
III The Communities
Still working on:
Chapter IV The Making of a Community: Their stories
Chapter V Opportunities and Challenges

PLAN
The Study will be presented to the community in a general assembly at the end of the month (September) for validation of data.