In-Country Scholarship Program (ICSP) Recognition Ceremony, 23 July 2015, Davao City

To all of us who are here, headed by the convener, our sponsors, fellow scholars and other guests – Assalamu alaikom W.W. and good morning to all of us.

Before I start my message, allow me to convey my thanks and gratitude to the Australian government and its people through the Philippine Australian Human Resource Development Organizational Facility or PAHRODF together with the  partner institutions who worked for the realization of this program. Our appreciation to the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA), the Institute of Bangsamoro Studies (IBS), and the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy for the support during our application process.

I humbly believe that the purpose of this program of developing and equipping young professionals who would be workers of society as an agent for transforming the Bangsamoro-Filipino communities is now gradually coming into reality.

This program sharpened knowledge and capacities of individuals like me, in my task as an envoy of peace of the Bangsamoro society towards just-peace and holistic development. It is indeed an honour because we now feel the importance of those fields that we studied in working for the upliftment of the Bangsamoro society who are deprived of opportunities because of the negative impact of conflict in Mindanao in relation to the Government of the Philippines and Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s vision of an inclusive society where everyone regardless of tribes, faith, belief, political affiliation, economic status could live peacefully.

We now feel the important role that we would be playing during the post-agreement phase. All I can assure is that we as scholars and graduates will commit ourselves in this noble task because aside from choosing this path, we know that it is the best contribution we could share to our succeeding generations.

To the Philippine and Australian governments, thank you very much for this program. I do believe that this education that you have invested will make a difference in the lives of the people in the conflict affected-areas in Mindanao.

Many are called but we are the only chosen. This scholarship grant is better than a hundred storey building project that you might want to build in the Bangsamoro communities because anytime it can be easily destroyed but our knowledge and competencies gained in  our study, we can use it to find means on how to build beyond physical infrastructure.. Rest assured that all your efforts will be requited with sacrifices and untiring commitment so that your people’s concern for others will not be wasted. We will strive hard so that this program would be proud of us.

In the end, I am praying that this program shall be continued in order to produce more agents of change in the Bangsamoro. I hope that more Bangsamoro youths shall be afforded scholarship of this kind because we need more partners and agents as a way to moving forward.

Sukran Lakum. Mabuhay po tayong lahat. Wassalamu Alaykum Warahmatulahhi Wabarakatuhu.

(Mr. Abdulfarid B. Amella is a National Staff for Committee on Research and Information of the UNYPAD. Mr. Amella is also a UNYPAD-Development Management Center Project Officer for the B-BANGON Project in partnership with the The Asia Foundation. He took up his Master of Science in Social Work at Asian Social Institute (ASI), Manila, Philippines from 2012-2014).