Mindanao Peace Games: Enrichment through Difference

_MG_0596[Welcome Address: Mindanao Peace Games 2017 at ADDU]

Welcome to the Ateneo de Davao University!

Welcome to the Mindanao Peace Games 2017!

Welcome especially to the heads of schools present: To Dr. Rey Albano of Holy Trinity College, to Dr. Royce Torres of Iligan Medical Center College, to Datu Mohammed Youssef Paglas of Datu Ibrahim Paglas Mememorial College, to Dr. Leticia Salas of St. Joseph’s Institute and to Zenaida Azura of Father Saturnino Urios University. A special welcome to Fr. Angel Benavides of Surallah – and formerly of San Jose Seminary!

Welcome to the coaches and support staff of the teams!

Welcome especially to the student athletes from all our different schools!

You are in Martin Hall named after Fr. Edgar Martin, S.J., an early athletics director of Ateneo de Manila, one of the inspiring figures of the NCAA, and eventually Secretary General of the Basketball Association of the Philippines.

Why Mindanao Peace Games? Games help foster peace and understanding. Like the Olympic games of old, so long as there were games, there was no war. We come together in peace, in the hope that through our games there may be less war.

In the wake of the war in Marawi, that has become more urgent. We must go out of our way to stand up for peace, for religious freedom and tolerance, for depth in the practice of religion, for surrender to the one God of Compassion who abhors war and killing.

Games are a celebration of freedom. Most of us don’t play games to make money or to make a living. Most of us play games for the love of the game, or for the love of life. The is no usefulness in tossing balls in baskets or in hitting a golf ball with a club so that it falls into a hole over a hundred meters away with the least number of strokes. There is no usefulness in volleyball nor in basketball.

Games are a celebration of freedom, of people gathering together in freedom to play together in freedom and to marvel at what human beings can do in freedom.

Games involve agreeing on a human activity – using a ball, a boat, a bat, using just hands, or just feet, or just mind and fingers! – agreeing on a goal, agreeing on rules, agreeing on cooperation to achieve the good of the game. Games involve shared cooperation towards a common good. They are totally free.

Games are celebrations of what humans do with their freedom. They bring together people. They foster fidelity to rules. They foster shared collaboration towards a common good. They foster camaraderie. They foster shared values like perseverance, courage, cooperativeness, and leadership.

The Mindanao Peace Games represent freedom from various parts of Mindanao to enjoy sports with each other, freedom to foster collegiality and friendship, freedom to cultivate shared values.   They are a celebration of being from Mindanao, a celebration of the rich diversity of cultures that is present in this hall, a celebration of commitment to live one’s cultural and religious convictions with respect for the convictions of others. Because one belongs to another team, one needs not be “othered” and considered anathema. Because one belongs to another culture or religion, one needs not be “othered” and considered an enemy. The Mindanao Peace Games are a celebration of the prospect of enrichment through the difference of others.

Welcome to the Ateneo de Davao for the Mindanao Peace Games! May you have an enriching experience of each other here!

About Joel Tabora, S.J.

Jesuit. Educator
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