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Tausug Children Seize Manila: A New Experience
By:MAJOR STEPHEN L CABANLET PN(M)
Even the longest journey must begin where one stand. Philippine Marine Corps in its desire to capture the elusive peace in Mindanao has taken a “new” step amidst warring Muslim clan and other insurgents. FOOTBALL is the “new” step banked on to remove the resilient hatred rooted in the heart and minds of the people in Sulu who, at a very young age, were indoctrinated of the enmity between them and the Government. Choosing ball over guns to bring chaos to order was a leap of faith on the part of PMC.
The participating children were required to learn patience and discipline. With a promise joining a football tournament the children were easily enticed thus patience and discipline not only on the practices was easily inculcated. The well-organized 1st Sulu football cup held last December 3, 2011 gave the children something to look forward to and, inadvertently, giving them chance to hope for something peaceful to channel their childhood. The 1st Sulu football cup was not a onetime effort of PMC (MBLT-3), for the real essence of football was in the daily training where the real war on value formation was being done. The positive response of the children in the endeavor inspired PMC to again organize football tournament, so came the 2nd Sulu football Cup in March 3, 2012 which was equally successful as the 1st. Football since then became the children’s way of life and the MBLT-3’s ticket to the psyche of the brother enemy’s most vulnerable.
PMC (MBLT-3) has awakened the dormant youth living in every child in Sulu. They were given back the chance dream once more. Their minds were opened to other possibilities other than learning to hate and kill an enemy. These children, though only more than few have been seeded with what is needed to, hopefully, renew the “antiquated” ideals that execrate peace and progress. But no seed will thrive when left alone. Constant and continuous nurturing must be given lest all effort will be laid to waste.
PMC (MBLT-3) in its sincerity to reap a harvest is about to embark on a new milestone for the children of Sulu. Come April 20, 2012 these children who have not seen Sulu’s nearby cities will be brought to Manila to participate in the 1st PMC Football for PEACE Festival. They will be, for the first time, taken away from their homes not because there is war. They will be taken away from their homes to have a glimpse of what is to live far from guns and chaos. Thru a game of football with their counterparts from Luzon, it is the PMC’s dream to give more hope to these selected children. This event is for the children to see that there is a “different” way of life.
As much as the Marines core competency is warfighting, it must learn to take a step where it stands. At present it stands in place that calls for PMC to lead the children in crusade. It will do and can do so only in the presence and help of other “crusaders.” The Sulu football teams venture to Manila is not an easy task for PMC whose capacity to finance is mote. There is a blatant plea for support to anyone who wishes to walk with PMC’s in this new “road less travelled.”