An archipelago in Southeast Asia, the Philippines is comprised of more than seven thousand islands between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea. While the country has been Asia's largest Catholic country since Spanish colonial times, more than one hundred ethnic groups, a mixture of foreign influences, and a fusion of culture and arts have truly enhanced the Filipino identity. However, with all of the good there is also strife. Nepotism and corruption are apparent in the government, so youth are reluctant to serve in political positions. Poverty is also prevalent, particularly in the province of Cebu, forcing an increasing number of Filipinos to work abroad in order to provide for their families. Without family guidance, young people are more likely to get into trouble, teenage pregnancies are on the rise, and suicide rates are increasing.
Play for Peace Philippines works hard to promote leadership and empowerment. Workshops and sessions provide a safe space for children and youth to learn their potential and redirect their energy toward productive activities. The program brings together young people who have the same passion for growth and community service and connects them with mentors and organizations. Through their leadership, Play for Peace volunteers are involving local and school communities to discover the power of play.
Play for Peace Philippines is growing rapidly, as more youth volunteers are using cooperative play to bring together children in communities affected by conflict. As a result, the organization is developing a volunteer recognition program, so volunteers can track their community service activities and create a volunteer resumé. This volunteer recognition program will serve as a model for a future programs serving the global Play for Peace community.
"If we want to see change in our country, we must start changing the campuses where leaders come from. With proper training and guidance, new leaders will propel this country to greater heights."
Paul Aldrin O. Villamora
Play for Peace Youth Volunteer
Alliance of Argawanon Young Leaders Club
Located in the Philippines, Play for Peace Cebu was founded in 2013 with five original members—including Mitzi Figueroa. As a Play for Peace facilitator, today she is committed to helping youth in her community and continuing the mission the club was founded on more than seven years ago—in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What if conflict arises, not from the war around you, but from the war within? A recent practice peace session in Cebu, Philippines educated local teens about mental health, providing inspiration for them to pursue their dreams, and identifying the factors that will make or break their goals.
Trainer Richard Delos Reyes and his team of youth leaders in Cebu work to instill leadership in local youth and teach responsible voting. Recently their club conducted a forum where young voters could listen to different platforms and promote an honest and orderly election.