“Real people are dying from real bullets in Mindanao. The killings are turning real people into widows, real children into orphans; and real parents seeing children dying ahead of them. The least we can do as we sit before our computers and detached from this bloody environment is to keep the level of hate and passion low,” said Armand Dean Nocum, a former reporter of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Now a blogger (Dean’s Office) at his Kristiyano-Islam (Kris) Peace Library (www.krislibrary.com) web site, Nocum had noticed that news or personal posting regarding the rise in the number of Philippine soldiers and policemen who die in the series of skirmishes with the Abu Sayyaf and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have elicited online reaction that borders on racial and religious discrimination.
“We must remember that our soldiers are fighting rebel and terrorist groups – both soldiers and rebel fighters are combatants and casualties happen on both sides. Let us not bring innocent Muslim civilians in the equation because they are victims like all of us,” said Nocum, who is married to a Muslim.
The Nocums and Christian and Muslim friends and relatives have started the peace and literacy advocacy to bring better understanding and unity among cultures by building Kris Peace Libraries in areas populated by Christians and Muslims.
Two of the five libraries set up by Kris are located in Zamboanga Sibugay where fresh fighting have erupted among military and police forces and armed men believed to belong to MILF.
Other Kris Libraries where poor Christians and Muslim go come together to do research, study and have free use of computers are located in Zamboanga City, Rodriguez, Rizal; and Quezon City. About half of the 102 scholars of Kris have graduated valedictorians and salutatorians; and with-honors.
Nocum noted that most of the acerbic comments are those calling for a declaration of a total war in Mindanao and criticizing the Aquino Administration for being too weak to go after the rebels. The nasty ones describe Muslims as people who cannot be trusted.
“All the emotionally-charged and general attacks between and among all Filipinos only paint a picture of us in the global community as a country and people at war with itself. We must all work for peace both in and out of cyberspace,” said Nocum, who was born in Zamboanga City.
A Manila-based public relations executive, Nocum called on Filipino Netizens to instead project the good things that bring unity and understanding between civilian Christians and Muslims in the country.
An avid user of the social networking sites to include Facebook, Nocum said Kris Library managed to set up five libraries, received books, computer and cash donations through Netizens here and abroad.
“About 90 percent of the people who donated to us after learning about our literacy cause from media and the Internet are people who have yet to formally meet us in person,” he said.
Arizza Nocum, Kris Library Administrator
09995609435 / 3522313