Notes from the Field

Interfaith Efforts Build Back a Better Zamboanga: Rehabilitating Christ the King Chapel

December 4, 2013

On Sept. 9, 2013, Zamboanga City was struck by an armed group of Muslim separatists, leading to weeks of urban warfare and more than 100,000 displaced persons. The city is majority Christian, so the invasion naturally led to considerable tension, despite the fact that many of the areas assaulted were majority Muslim.

In an effort to bring back the unity of Christians and Muslims in Zamboanga City, a coalition of religious leaders called Zamboanga Esperanza, led the reconstruction of Christ the King Chapel at Martha Drive, Sta. Catalina barangay. A month earlier, the same coalition of Muslim and Christian religious leaders also spearheaded the reconstruction of Masjid Salahuddin in Sta. Barbara.

These initiatives of Zamboanga Esperanza are being done in partnership with The Asia Foundation, the Archdiocese of Zamboanga, Sabiel Al-Mohtadeen Foundation, and the city government. The masjid was damaged and the chapel was burned during the September standoff between the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) forces loyal to Nur Misuari and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The Sta. Catalina community and Christ the King devotees also helped in the reconstruction of the chapel, completed in time for the November 30 celebration of the feast of Christ the King. This activity supports Zamboanga Mayor Beng Climaco’s “Build Back Better Zamboanga Program,” launched on Dec. 3, 2013, and is expected to help ensure that the Zamboanga siege issue does not take on a religious cast. Photos by Jason Reyes.

The damaged minaret of Masjid Salahuddin (Sta. Barbara Mosque) during the Zamboanga siege.

The newly repaired and repainted minaret of Masjid Salahuddin on November 27.

Remnants of Christ the King Chapel which was burned during the Zamboanga siege in September.

Mayor Beng Climaco (printed dress) together with members of the Zamboanga Esperanza group, and other Christian and Muslim religious leaders during the ceremonial program held at the ruins of Christ the King Chapel on Nov. 12, 2013.

On-going rehabilitation of the chapel at Martha Drive.

Local residents help clean the front yard of the chapel in preparation for the feast of Christ the King on Nov. 27, 2013.

A sign sponsored by the Barangay Captain welcomes people to the Feast of Christ the King on Nov. 30, 2013. Barangay elections had to be postponed in Zamboanga City due to the invasion, but later came off successfully.

Msgr. Cris Manungas of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga officiating the mass at Martha Chapel in celebration of Christ the King on November 30.

Martha residents and devotees of Christ the King listening to the homily, which focused on rebuilding lives, moving forward, and promoting peace between Christians and Muslims.

Photo of the chapel taken during the celebration of the feast of Christ the King.

Message from Ret. PNP Director Sukarno Ikbala of Zamboanga Esperanza.

Mayor Beng Climaco together with Muslim religious leader and Martha community listens to Msgr. Cris Manungas prayers for those who lost their lives in the community during the Zamboanga siege.

One comment on this post:

  1. Al Mar:

    I shed tears to know of these show of brotherhood. I am deeply moved by the gesture of our brother Muslims towards Christians. What has been started must be continued and sustained to achieve harmonious and peaceful co-existence.

    The conflict in MIndanao has many social faces that one must fully understand first to be able to help. One must understand that every race has its own biases,custom and norms. Social and cultural awareness is a primary key to open up acceptance. What the volunteers did is a manifestation that we can have a peaceful society tolerant of a variety of beliefs.

    I am sure that Zamboanga will be colorful again and will be proudly standing on its feet.

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