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Connecting to Feelings and Needs, And Finding a Way to Peace

17 August 2010 One Comment

Amina Mambuay

Amina Mambuay
The Philippines

“We can sit down together and share experiences, not looking at each other as Muslims or Christians but all as creations of one God. This is liberating, and it is thanks to Nonviolent Communication.”

I am Amina Tominaman-Mambuay, born in Marawi City, Philippines on May 12, 1967 to a Muslim-Meranao family. Meranao (meaning people of the lake) is among the 13 ethnolinguistic groups of Muslims found in the Philippines. I had my elementary and high school days in Marawi City and for college enrolled at Ateneo de Cagayan University (Xavier University). I finished Bachelor of Arts in Philippines Studies and my Masters in Sociology-Anthropology from the same school. I am married to Nathaniel Mambuay, also a Muslim-Meranao.

I worked as a Researcher at Xavier University, Cagayan de Oro City, exploring the problems confronting the Muslims and Lumads in Mindanao. After the project ended in 1990, I had to go back to my hometown to work as a College Instructor at Mindanao State University from June 1990-May 1995. Later in the 90s, it was quite hard for us to find jobs because discrimination against Muslims is very strong. My husband found a job after a friend hired him. I decided to take care of our three daughters, then 5, 9, and 10 years old.

In 2004, I learned about Nonviolent Communication (NVC) through a friend who is a nun. She gave me the book Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall Rosenberg. This was the start of my involvement in working for peace. In 2007, a priest friend of mine recommended me for NVC training in Ruhpolding, Germany. NVC promotes better relations and understanding between Muslims, Christians, and people of other living faiths. It is a calling and a mission, because I work as a volunteer with no compensation. In 2007, my husband also joined me in advocacy. And I am happy with our choice. It meets my needs to contribute to the well-being of others and to contribute to peace and understanding.

We facilitate workshops, seminars, and trainings on Peace and Nonviolent Communication. At times, both of us are invited to speak about our experience as Muslims. We closely collaborate with an interfaith group in Cagayan de Oro City. We spearhead a Walk for Peace here in Mindanao, activities in solidarity with the Muslims and Christians, and other activities in the pursuit of peace.

The experiences I had as early as six years old, when we were displaced from our home because of war, and the prejudices and biases that I encountered when I started my college days (and even until now) compel me to dedicate most of my life to the work for peace and Nonviolent Communication. I blamed others for the unpeace in Mindanao, and did not connect with myself as to how I feel and what are my needs. I could not really articulate my requests until I learned about NVC and gained these skills.

At first there was resistance to this teaching, because our Filipino culture teaches us to be submissive without expressing our feelings and needs. And we are most of the time responding to demands, not requests. I have to do this, otherwise my mother will be angry; I have to make grades because it is required by the school; and many more shoulds, have-tos, and musts. With NVC, there is difficulty at the start, but when people are used to it they feel truly liberated.

One major result of this training is openness to one another’s culture and beliefs. In the past, it was a big NO for Muslims to enter a Christian Church, and vice versa. But with our peace efforts, on Christmas Eve of 2008 my family was invited to a Christmas Eve Mass together with some other Muslim leaders, and one of our Muslim leaders was requested to explain the birth of Jesus Christ as found in the Holy Qur’an. This was among the breakthroughs of our work, since hundreds of parishioners came to know that the story of the birth of Jesus Christ in our Qur’an is similar to that found in the Holy Bible. In solidarity with the Muslims, the Christians now visit the Mosque one day during Ramadan to observe the breaking of the fast.

In 2009 our region was hit by flooding, and Muslims and Christians worked hand in hand to help those who were affected by the sad calamity. We can sit down together and share experiences, not looking at each other as Muslims or Christians but all as creations of one God. This is liberating, and it is thanks to NVC.

My family lives a very simple life within the reach of what we get daily. We do not have luxuries in life. What is important is that we have three meals a day and we are able to send our three daughters to school, since all three are on scholarships.

Admittedly, there are times when we have financial difficulties, especially in the requirements of my daughters in school and their daily expenses, but these are solved through Divine Providence. At times, I am invited to give talks on Islam or on Peace and I am given an honorarium, and the same with my husband. This helps us in terms of financial needs. There is a lot of sacrifice but our mission is worth the sacrifice.

Our only luxury is this computer unit I am using to communicate, and this is already 10 years old. Though sometimes I have a problem with it, if it is in a condition to work on, I take the opportunity to use it. Right now my husband and I have an opportunity to attend further NVC training in Germany with most of the expenses paid, and we are depending on Providence to close the gap.

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One Comments to “Connecting to Feelings and Needs, And Finding a Way to Peace”
  1. Rahmah says:

    Its a good idea to promote co-existence especially where religion is concerned. Many conflicts in the world have a religious interest in them yet its ignored by many.

    Keep the struggle going for creating a non-violent world.

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