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Moving forward the Edsa torch of peaceful change

The Philippines has showcased throughout the world, the return of democracy after a peaceful overthrow of the corrupt Marcos dictatorship. It has inspired similar action that dramatically collapsed the iron curtain and the breakdown of the Berlin Wall.

Appropriately, the Philippines is the site for the global launch of the International Peace Movement: Not by Force But by Art. The concept was approved at the General Assembly of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors and Artists for Peace. It is endorsed by the President and Director General of the International Theatre Institute (ITI) bannering the 70th Anniversary of the ITI created by UNESCO as a World performing Arts Organization in 1948. It has also the endorsement of Senators Loren Legarda, Cynthia Villar and Chiz Escudero. Among its partners are the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), Climate Institute, South South Cooperation Council, Climate Change Commission (CCC) as well as our Philippine Ambassador to the United Nations, His Excellency Teodoro Locsin, Jr. and Her Excellency Theresa Lazaro of the UNESCO Philippine Delegation in Paris. The occasion is scheduled on the 20th to the 23rd of April 2018 for the triple observance of the United Nations Day for World Creativity and Innovation, Earth Day, and International Dance Week.

The Historic event proposed by the Earthsavers UNESCO Artist for Peace and the Social Change Network of the International Theatre Institute is a cultural diplomatic initiative to help break the impasse of territorial dispute. It consists of a Music-Dance-Theatre Arts Peace Concert with participants from claimant countries of the conflicted West Philippine Sea/ China Sea. It will serve as a platform for recharging memories of affinity, friendship even kinship in the region to lower the decibel of confrontational dialogue and aggressive behavior to mitigate and possibly prevent the conflagration of armed conflict in the disputed area. The dynamic application of a performance arts fest/media event can collectively appeal to stop violence against mankind and Mother Earth by popularizing information and appreciation among the public to impact on regional consciousness and generate the will to adhere to an ASEAN Code of Conduct and acceptance of the United Nations Law of the Sea. It is a cultural diplomatic initiative underscoring the dictum “Not by Force but by Art” we can collaborate and utilize the oceans as a global commons and protect the waters from pollution and global warming that causes climate change catastrophes of super drought and ocean surge that bind us. The ocean is a crucial carbon sink. The Art Speak Festival for Peace will be complemented with a special International forum for Peace and Sustainable Development with distinguished interdisciplinary educational leaders in the region.

Arts is the catalyst for interaction and people to people strategy. The universal language of the arts can bond and link people together considering the rising tension among contending parties with regard to islets in the West Philippine Sea-China Sea.

The planned music peace theatre gathering can heal like a “Balm in Gilead” to help fertilize the ground for more conciliatory political rhetoric in determining a reasonable, ethical resolution of clashing interests. Effective communications can inform, sensitize and motivate all involved to refrain from the use of violence and to care for a peaceful resolution of disputes. We must draw the lesson from history that war is insanity. Artists can be harnessed as a creative army to combat poverty, prejudice, crime and corruption drugs and disease, exclusion, isolation and ignorance, terrorism and tyranny that breeds armed conflict. We must remember that justice, equity, truth, tolerance and freedom are essential ingredients to live in peace.

Art Speak for peace is a concienticizing force that touches the heart to impact on global public opinion and pressure political leaders to negate armed conflict. We are in the UNESCO led decade of cultural rapprochement, an auspicious critical time to ease tensions underscoring the value of harmonious connectivity in the Asia-Pacific region.

Cecile Guidote-Alvarez is one of the Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS) awardee in 1998. As founder of the Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) 50 years ago, she is the youngest Filipina to have been recognized by the Ramon Magsaysay Foundation. She is the director of the Earthsavers honored twice by UNESCO as Artist for Peace and designated as the 6th in the world UNESCO DREAM Center. Even in exile, she was bestowed the U.N Human Rights Day for Theatre Innovation Award and won for the Philippine Educational Arts League (PETAL) serving overseas Filipinos, the Outstanding Political Theatre Award.

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