Mindanao Peace Games is an annual all-women event which involves student-athletes from various schools (universities and colleges) all over Mindanao. It is a movement of women empowerment through teaching leadership in the direction of attaining peace through sports.
It started in 2015, hosted by Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan, at Cagayan de Oro City. I was still a student-athlete back then. Now, at its 4th year, held at Father Saturnino Urios University, Butuan City last October 26-30, 2018, I am now part of the coaching staff.
Personally, I feel really glad for being a part of this movement. More than being empowered, I, myself, treat MPG as a personal trigger which affects me to continuously reflect on my dealings in sports and to what direction I am really bringing myself through it.
I am currently coaching young boys and if I hadn’t been a part of MPG, I think my approach in teaching young boys would’ve been really traditional – merely passing what I’ve received from my previous coaches. MPG is really empowering in a sense that it gives you enough space for your own voice about certain issues. It makes you feel that you should be heard and your opinions can influence your community. I don’t know any other tournament, aside from MPG, that gives you this kind of effect.
In MPG we have the usual games backed up by athletes forum and a lot of more shared experiences. Teams are brought together by their love of the sport, by their ownership of their pains toward their sought-after pride, by the thrill of competition. But the same teams are glued together by the shared experiences outside the playing area.
I long to see more substantial growth in MPG. As the quality of the conduct of the games is continuously raised to the next level possible, I hope the quality of the empowerment to each individual is also deepened. I hope that these women student-athletes value intellectual competency as much as they value each strengthened muscle needed for landing a championship title. The journey towards peace must always be advancing, actively moving forward. I don’t believe there is such a thing called maintaining the peace. Peace is not just the absence of war. Peace is a movement, it is one of the indicators of a vibrant, healthy and fully-functioning society. And it is the idea that these MPG women are capable enough of being creative in bringing about peace from their own personal spaces towards their spheres of control and influence.
On a personal note, I also long to see more communities from the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao be involved in the MPG movement. I hope we can invite younger kids and let their Ates from MPG teach them about the joy of sports.
Mindanao is very vulnerable today. War or Peace is not just a national concern. Its everybody’s concern. We have an innate duty to maintain harmonious relations with the ones we coexist, regardless of religion, color, tribe, group, etc.
I am just a girl who knows how to play sports. I just happen to be a part of something bigger and better than me, Mindanao Peace Games, a bit young organization, but the principle of peace has been there ever since humanity existed. The thing is, MPG, may or may not remain as it is but the values it exposed me to had been encapsulated by the experiences I had with it. And it will always be there.
To give you a visual idea of what MPG is, here’s a short recap video of the recent MPG 2018 at Butuan City.