The World March for Peace and Non-violence touched down in Manila after having made unforgettable stops in The Chatham Islands and Wellington, New Zealand, and Sydney, Australia. The experience was proof that nothing is more central to our lives than our relationships with other human beings. The encounter with ancestral cultures during this leg of the journey strengthened the team’s enthusiasm for the long three-month march for peace ahead.

The opportunity to spend days side by side with the Maoris and other groups, talking and listening, confirmed that we share the same dreams and hopes, in spite of cultural, linguistic and philosophical differences.

Tuesday, the 6th of October, dawned clear and bright, a sign of the wonderful day that awaited the team in this city of more than 12 million inhabitants ringed by islands. The events kicked off with a 7 a.m. ceremony in Rizal Park, one of the largest parks in Asia, at the foot of the monument dedicated to Philippine national hero and pacifist José Rizal, who was a martyr in the country’s struggle to shake off a 333 year yoke of Spanish colonialism. After presenting beautiful shell necklaces to the March leaders, the mayor of Manila, D. Alfredo León, expressed his city’s commitment to peace and non-violence. During the ceremony, the mayor symbolically offered the keys to the city to Rafael de la Rubia, president of World Without Wars, the organizing entity for the three-month-long march that will circle the globe and involve people from 6 continents.

The uplifting celebration included the participation of elected officials, professors, students as well as musical groups and dance troupes that lent an essential youthful and spiritual tone to the event. It was heartwarming to realize that these young people will soon form the leadership that will determine the future of their communities.

The base team members enthusiastically explained their mission and their motives for coming together for this extraordinary experience. There was dancing and singing. The entire assembly joined hands and observed two minutes of solemn silence in a prayer for peace.

Among the many people who had come together for the event, there were those curious to know what it was about, World Without Wars supporters, members of the university community and the armed services, who later joined a march through the city center: in all, 800 people desiring to construct a new world of solidarity and justice based upon peace.

The march concluded with everyone participating in festivities in the San Andrés Sports Complex. The event included the reading of messages from various organizations, musical performances and a demonstration of martial arts. A reflection of the general camaraderie that was the order of the day, everyone present contributed to the creation of a mandala that will accompany the marchers and be embellished along the route. Rafael de la Rubia and the base team members were received in The Philippine House of Representatives where, after maintaining a dialogue with several representatives, they were presented with a scroll declaring the support of all the House Members for the World March for Peace and Non-violence.

*(Translation provided by Jenni Lukac)*