News Release

IFPHS, NCMF 10 and Religious leaders Join CDO Interfaith Luncheon for World Interfaith Harmony Week 

One of the hallmark teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is respect for diverse beliefs. In an effort to promote unity, harmony, and solidarity despite diversity, the Church sponsored an interfaith luncheon in observance of the 2019 World Interfaith Harmony Week.


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With the theme “Celebrating Truth, Sincerity, and Forgiveness,” members of the Interfaith Forum for Peace, Harmony, and Solidarity, a group of different religious and faith-based organizations in Cagayan de Oro City, gathered at the Limketkai Luxe Hotel on 9 February 2019 to share messages of peace, unity, and harmony.

Elder Maximo Saavedra, Jr., a member of the Seventy of the Church, welcomed the guests to the interfaith gathering. In his welcome remarks, he expressed appreciation on behalf of the Area Presidency to all the interfaith leaders who accepted the invitation to the special luncheon.

In his message of peace, Elder Saavedra said that everything begins at home. “A peaceful home will result in a peaceful community, and a peaceful community will make a peaceful country,” he said.

Most Reverend Antonio J. Ledesma, Archbishop of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro, graced the event and gave the keynote message. Other religious leaders also shared inspiring messages that increase harmony and solidarity despite religious diversity.

Msgr. Rey Monsanto, Parish Priest of Eco Church, shared that “forgiveness is the way to attain peace and as all of us make mistakes, embrace and forgive one another.”

Rev. Goel Bagundol, United Church of Christ in the Philippines, shared that peace is attained when every day is taken as an opportunity to love others.

Muslim leaders also imparted a common message to the guests. They taught that Islam is peace and that development will only happen when there are peace and unity.

Mr. Nat Mambuay, Silsilah Forum-CDO/Interfaith-CDO, said that the Muslim greeting “As-salāmu ʿalaykum” means "Peace be upon you" and that respect and peace comes hand in hand.

Moreover, Ms. Amina T. Mambuay, Muslim Coordinator of Silsilah Forum-CDO/Interfaith-CDO, shared her message. “Peace is not something you wish for; it’s something you make, something you do, something you are, and something you give away. Let us not just wish or dream for peace; let us work together for peace starting from ourselves, our families, and to the communities,” she said.

Apart from religious leaders imparting inspiring messages, representatives from the academe also contributed to the special gathering.

Mr. Edres Salic, a teacher of the Department of Education, expressed the importance of youth involvement. “Youth should be involved in peace initiatives because they are the future. They should be made a part in working for a peaceful and developed tomorrow,” Salic said.

Dr. Edvilla "Babes" R. Talaroc, an Anthropologist from Xavier University, also shared, “Peace is a way of life. It requires not judging others. It is attained through inclusivity and immersion as it allows all to understand each other’s differences which leads to better understanding and respect.”

Furthermore, Teosoro Sabugaa, Jr., Cagayan de Oro City Administrator, expressed appreciation to the interfaith group represented by religious leaders and members of the academe for their active help, which has contributed to the local government unit’s appropriate response to the needs of the internally displaced persons temporarily relocated in Cagayan de Oro due to the Marawi siege.

Sabugaa also said that the city government continues to have representatives from the interfaith group in government discussions to ensure transparency in governance.

Dr. Abdulnasser Masorong, Jr., Regional Director of the National Commission on Muslim Families Region 10, along with Ms. Alamiah S. Pangandaman and Ms. Jamela Lomondot-Barra, also shared messages of peace.

Pangandaman expressed that it was her first time to attend an interfaith gathering, and she realized that all her daily interactions are actually interfaith dialogues because she deals with people who belong to different faiths.

A total of 38 leaders attended the event. Other guests present in the interfaith luncheon included Mahar B. Samporna of ALIVE/Interfaith; Ms. Shahani Damulo of Xavier University; and Carmen Mayor, Isabel Moneva, Gemma Fortun, and Mary Sherill Cabatua of the Parish Interfaith Group in Barra, Opol. Representatives from the Xavier University - Research and Social Outreach were also present.

Friends from the media also attended the interfaith luncheon, including Mr. Sean Sulugan of Benta Birada News Daily and Mindanao Newswatch, Mr. Mark Francisco of Mindanao Daily, and Ms. Jo Ann Sablad of Sunstar Cagayan de Oro. 

Local Church leaders in Cagayan de Oro graced the event as well, including Cagayan de Oro Philippines Stake (diocese) President Edwin C. Sacay, and his counselor, President Roy Cotejo. Cagayan de Oro West Philippines Stake President Feliciano Santos, Jr. and his two counselors, President Elmer Salonga and Gloriouso Buenaventura, also met and dined with the other religious leaders.

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