Insights and Analysis

Photo Blog: Zamboanga City Begins Recovery Through Inter-Faith Efforts

October 16, 2013

October 15 was a national holiday in the Philippines to celebrate Eid’l Adha, the Muslim festival of the sacrifice. The day was also tragically marked by an earthquake in central Philippines, one consequence of which was considerable damage to historic churches.

In Zamboanga City, on the southern island of Mindanao, the earthquake was felt but no damage sustained. Rather, the city was focusing on damage sustained in the fighting in September that displaced over 80,000 people. Relief and reconstruction efforts are underway, but due to the presence of unexploded ordnance (UXOs), clearing areas for reentry has been challenging. The city’s largest mosque, Masjid Salahuddin (commonly referred to as the Sta. Barbara mosque), used as a stronghold by the rebels, was heavily damaged during the fighting. The Asia Foundation has been working with the city government, Zamboanga Esperanza, a loose coalition of Muslim and Christian religious leaders, the Darul Ifta, the Archdiocese of Zamboanga, and both Christian and Muslim organizations to address the immediate needs of the displaced, as well as support long-term peacebuilding and inter-faith understanding.Some damage was physical, so the Foundation supported the rehabilitation of the mosque, and on October 15, Zamboanga Mayor Beng Climaco attended the re-dedication of the mosque with Muslim religious leaders. Other damage was psychological, so the Foundation brought together Muslim and Christian student leaders for a dialogue among themselves and with the mayor. And, to celebrate Eid’l Adha, tens of thousands were able to gather in the Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial Stadium, known as “the Grandstand,” where almost 30,000 displaced persons are living. The prayers were followed by an interfaith service, again bringing together Christian and Muslim religious leaders and the city government. Here are some images from these events.

Zamboanga conflict

A view of battle-scarred Lustre Street in the center of Zamboanga City in the aftermath of fighting. Photo/Jowel Canuday

Zamboanga City’s largest mosque, Masjid Salahuddin, its minaret damaged from heavy gunfire. Photo/Jason Reyes

Masjid Salahuddin turnover

Sheikh Jackariya Mohammad conducts a prayer during the turnover of the Masjid Salahuddin to religious leaders. Photo/Jason Reyes

Masjid Salahuddin

Muslim and Christian religious leaders and retired and active army officers and staff help paint a section of the damaged mosque. Photo/Jason Reyes

Masjid Salahuddin

At the turnover ceremony on October 15, Police Director Carmelo Valmoria (center) declares the mosque as cleared, safe, and open for worshipers to celebrate Eid’ul Adha, as Zamboanga Mayor Beng Climaco (right) looks on. Photo/Jason Reyes

Muslim Christian youth leaders

Mayor Beng Climaco (right) meets with young mixed faith leaders in Zamboanga to listen to their concerns about the conflict and the issue facing their communities. Photo/Jason Reyes

Mayor Beng (center) together with army officials and representatives from different religious groups participate in the turnover ceremony. Photo/Jason Reyes

About 2 kilometers from the Sta. Barbara mosque, approximately 34,685 people are still living in the Joaquin Enriquez Memorial Stadium after being displaced by fighting. Above, residents at the stadium conduct morning Eid prayers. Photo/Eric Aseo

Residents at the Grandstand pray amid temporary tent housing. Photo/Eric Aseo


1 Comment

  1. Thanks a lot Eric, Jason, & Asia Foundation leadership… This “Low Cost Project with Greatest Impact” of renovating & repainting of places of worship in the conflicted areas of Zamboanga City was organized by Zamboanga ESPERANZA originally featured by local and national media as Zamboanga Inter-religious Multi-sectoral Movement for Solidarity (ZIMMS) initially tagged as “bee-jolly group” composed of retired and active officers of the armed forces and police forces, community leaders, higher education leaders, church officials, pastors, priests, ulama, imams as part of the confidence building efforts towards normalcy that led to the peaceful celebration of the Eid’l Adha (feast of sacrifice of the Muslims worldwide) and few days thereafter the successful opening and celebration of the Fiesta del Pilar was with modest support from partners like Asia Foundation. Projects of this genre are indispensable for sustainable development and livelihood projects for the internally displaced inhabitants of the Zamboanga City. The ZIMMS secretariat then was initially composed of: Prof. Teng Catong, Dean of College of Social Sciences of WMSU as Spokesperson: Kabayan Noli de Castro representing the media sector, Fr. Bert Alejo of Ateneo, crisis survivor Fr. Mike Ufana and various church leaders: Ust. Zacaria Mohammad of Dar ul Ifta, Guru Bata Tapsi of SMFI, MSA leaders, Atty. Yaser Apion of NCMF of the Office of the President; Ret officers: Gen. Hadji Ben Jabarani; PSr Supt (Col.) Julmunier Jubail, ret; PA Col. Abdurahman Indanan; PSr Supt Ahirun Ajirim; PSupt Asjar Absara; Gen Rey Ramirez; Gen (PDir.) Hadji Sukarno Ikbala, Col. Amin Undug (Active, AFP’s Special Forces—former SF Regimental Commander). This project towards normalcy and sustainable development of the city is with the full support of Mayor Beng Climaco, CMC and city leaders, Asia Foundation, Task Force Suyud head Maj. Gen. Valmoria, PNP9 Dir Vano, PNP City Dir Basngi, Col.Obligacion, Col. Aseron, barangay leaders, and valued partners.

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