by Jay Velez and Fernando I. Sanding



 La Salle Academy (LSA) located in Iligan City, Lanao del Norte, Mindanao celebrated the 23rd Mindanao Week of Peace (MWOP) last November 25 to December 01, 2021. This annual celebration is in accordance with Proclamation 408, amending Proclamation 207 by resetting the date of the MWOP to the last Thursday of November until the first Wednesday of December of every year thereafter;  with its goal “to provide a venue for the expression in various forms of the peace aspirations of the people of Mindanao and for convergence of peace initiatives.”

In celebration of this momentous event,  La Salle Academy in collaboration with the Office of the Vice-Principal for Student Management, Night High School and Lasallian Ministry Office, had a Peace Pole Dedication Ceremony  (PPDC) witnessed by school community members through Zoom and Lasallian Media Facebook Live last November 26, 2021.

Budding La Salle Academy peacemakers who participated virtually during the Peace Pole Dedication Ceremony last November 26, 2021.

This highlighted the two months’ preparation and the unique Eight-Sided Peace Pole where local materials were used despite the limited resources available brought by the pandemic. LSA’s Peace Pole features not only it’s unique shape but also the languages written on it–Hiligaynon, Bisaya, Maranao, Filipino, English, Spanish, Burmese, and Arabic.

The Peacemakers’ Prayer composed by adherents of different faiths was recited as the  Opening Prayer to connect with all peacemakers in the island belonging to various religious backgrounds and cultures. The school community is pluralistic and multi-diverse in faith and tradition.

Mr. Yashio Mochizuki Program Director, International Affairs of The Goi Peace Foundation from Japan giving his peace message.

Mr. Yashio Mochizuki  Program Director – International Affairs of The Goi Peace Foundation gave his message of peace and the opening remarks. Here are a few highlights from his message: “Dear friends of La Salle Academy. Kumusta from Japan? Congratulations for celebrating the 23rd Mindanao Week of Peace with the theme “Youth’s Voices on Building a Non-violent, Sustainable and Equitable World.” It is a most appropriate theme for world peace today and the youth’s voice is indeed a key to this goal. We are deeply honored and profoundly touched by your initiative to plant a peace pole in your campus, which we have been promoting globally. The peace pole is a physical manifestation of our desire for peace. The first peace pole was made in 1970 with the message “May Peace Prevail on Earth,” emitting the peace prayer vibration that covers the whole grove from the spot…”

 Towards the end of his message, he lovingly remembered in his message the valuable Filipino contributions and key role of the late Mario “Toots” Fungo in promoting the peace pole in the Philippines. His pioneering work of promoting the peace pole has now many shoots sprouting in the country.

Dr. Genevieve Balance-Kupang, Chair of Special Interest Groups of the World Council for Curriculum & Instruction giving her solidarity peace message.

The event was graced by Genevieve Balance Kupang, PhD, Chairperson, Special Interest Groups (SIG), World Council for Curriculum & Instruction and the President of the Mandala Peace Arts Initiative, Inc. She, along with the late Mario Fungo (World Peace Prayer Society Representative in the Philippines), are known to have assisted various institutions in dedicating peace poles in the Philippines in partnership with the Goi Peace Foundation. and May Peace Prevail on Earth International. She shared her Message of Peace and is quoted saying “remember that symbols or emblems like the peace pole, the peace sign, or the non-violent sign are inclusive important reminders that we are children of the light and of peace; advocates who promote justice, and the integrity of creation. In the Philippines, you are the 86th institution where the peace pole is dedicated. It is a special occasion to expand and deepen our advocacy for peace, non-violence, respect and harmonious co-existence with people who are different from us through education and public awareness.”

The school president, Mr. Jay Velez, shared his Lasallian Passage of Peace to the entire LSA community—“This will be La Salle Academy’s commitment – to promote peace in school and in the community. As Lasallian educators, we must educate our students that peace begins with us. We model to our students.” The program was hosted and run by the school’s student body led by the Supreme Student Government President- Hanz Buencamino and was hosted by Jackie Piansay and Richard Punongbayan. 

Mr. Jay Velez, School President, La Salle Academy, sharing his Lasallian Passage of Peace

The United Nations recognizes the Peace Pole Project movement as an international symbol of the hopes and dreams of the entire human family, standing vigil in silent prayer for peace on earth bearing the message “May Peace Prevail on Earth.” Today, there are over 200,000 Peace Poles planted in every country in the world dedicated as monuments to peace. A Peace Pole is a way of bringing people together to inspire, awaken and uplift the human consciousness the world over. It is a movement to bring inner peace of mind and to foster peace in the world at large.

The Night High School Department and other faculty members participated in the PPCD.

La Salle Academy has the 12th Peace Pole dedicated in Mindanao since the last dedication ten years ago. Also, LSA is the third La Salle School in the Philippines following De La Salle Lipa in 2010 and De La Salle Medical and Health Sciences Institute in the Philippines in 2019.

We are one in the advocacy in safekeeping and passing the May Peace Prevail on Earth to the next generation.

Live Jesus in our Hearts. Forever.

LSA preparing the ground for the Peace Pole. We are grateful for the loving collaboration of our school’s maintenance personnel Sirs Roger Balocot and Dodong Madjos in making the peace pole and installing it on its sacred ground. Thanks, too, to Sir Jojo Burda who headed and supervised the PP-making process.

Br. Dan Sanding, FSC together with Hanz Buenacmino, Student Government President and the technical team.

Sir Chris Murallon (Lasallian Mission Office), Sir Dianlou Suganob (Night High School, Event Organizer) and Sir Symonne Looc (Christian Living Teacher)  before the unveiling of the peace pole.

The La Salle Academy “peace educators” preparing the flags for the ceremony.

About the Authors:

  Mr. Jay Velez is the La Salle Academy’s school president.  He was also an English teacher and served as Prefect of Discipline, Vice Principal for Student Management, Vice Principal for Academics and Principal before becoming the President. He is the first lay associate to assume leadership and serving the school for 19 years.

Br. Fernando “Dan” I. Sanding, FSC, administratively is the La Salle Academy’s Vice Principal for Student Management and the Community Director of the De La Salle- Holy Infancy Brothers’ Community. This is his second term assignment in La Salle Academy, Iligan City.