San Francisco, October 3, 2011 — On October 2, Philippines expert and The Asia Foundation’s country representative for the Philippines, Dr. Steven Rood spoke on a panel titled “Homeland Realities: Insider Stories About the Real Situation in the Philippines” at the Filipino American International Book Festival (FilBookFest) in San Francisco. Other panelists included investigative journalist Marites Vitug and clinical psychologist Honey Carandang, and the session was moderated by journalist Rene Ciria Cruz. Dr. Rood provided an insider’s perspective of the Mindanao situation, particularly the new realities of the peace talks between MILF and the government.
In conflict-affected areas of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, The Asia Foundation has supported local actors in preventing escalation of localized crises, which can include endemic clan conflicts (rido), community conflicts over natural resources, and election violence. Since 2009, the Foundation has been part of the International Contact Group (ICG) for the peace talks that are being conducted between the government and the MILF, under Malaysian Facilitation.
In addition to the featured panel, The Asia Foundation hosted a booth at the FilBookFest and reknowned Filipino authors, Criselda Yabes and Marites Vitug, signed books. At the booth, attendees also learned about the Foundation’s programs, including Books for Asia. In the Philippines, Books for Asia has distributed over 13 million books and journals to a wide variety of institutions across the country, including some of the Philippines’ most isolated and impoverished regions.