The Words of the Navalta Family
Manila, Philippines -- A two-day International Leadership Conference with the theme "Universal Principles of Peace and Leadership: A New Paradigm for Building a World of Peace" was held at the Manila Hotel from January 11 to 12. More than 400 distinguished delegates from 26 nations, including former and current government officials, parliamentarians, women, civil, youth, and religious leaders, participated in the event.
With great anticipation for the day, international participants together with other seminar day guests filled the four corners of the hotel's Centennial Hall to the brim as they gathered for the Opening Plenary. Dr. Chung Sik Yong, Regional Chair of UPF-Asia, and Dr. Chang Shik Yang, Executive Vice President, Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, delivered the Welcome Message and the Special Remarks, respectively. This was followed by the well-applauded speech of Hon. Tara Gandhi Bhattacharjee, Vice Chair of the Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti of India, who is a granddaughter of the late Mahatma Gandhi.
Dr. Thomas Walsh, President of UPF International, delivered the Keynote Speech, which set the tone for the conference. In his message, he explained the various programs related to the conference, including women and youth gatherings, the inauguration of the International Peace Leadership College, and the Interfaith Peace Marriage Blessing Festival. He noted the importance of the Philippines as a nation dedicated to peace, moderation, and human development for all of its people and how its government is recognized at the United Nations and throughout the world for its promotion of interfaith harmony, strong families, and a prosperous society for all.
In the subsequent sessions during the day, several high-caliber speakers addressed the topics of "The Need to Find a Common Ground for Good" as well as "Finding Our Original Human Value" and "Interfaith Cooperation for Peace." Dr. Robert S. Kittel, UPF-Asia Director for Education; Hon. Mamta Sharma, Chairperson of the National Women's Commission in India; Mrs. Ursula McLackland, Secretary General of UPF-Asia; Archbishop Deogracia S. Iñiguez, Chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines; and Prof. Dr. Quanyi Zhang, Associate Professor of Zhejiang Wanli University in the People's Republic of China, delivered impressive presentations on the topics.
These were followed with presentations by Prof. Celestino Jose V. Navalta, Jr., President of UPF-Philippines; Justice Saaduddin Alauya, Juristic Consultant on Islamic Law in the Philippines; Prof. Dr. Aruna Gopinath of the National Defense University of Malaysia; as well as Hon. Thalatha Athukorale, a Member of the Parliament in Sri Lanka, and H.E. Chou Bun Eng, Secretary of State, Ministry of Interior of the Government of Cambodia. They all shared compelling insights on "Human Development and the Culture of Peace" and "Understanding the Roots of Social Ills and Injustice." Hon. Athukorale, for instance, talked about how Sri Lanka has emerged from three decades of uncertainty, in-fighting, and killing, and offered a woman's perspective the roots of social ills and injustice. She expressed gratitude for the opportunity to share her views on how to create a peaceful environment that can enable people to live under a common umbrella irrespective of caste, creed, nationality, ethnicity, or race.
That evening, the delegates joined the Inaugural Convocation of the Global Women's Peace Network in Asia, which was held at the Fiesta Pavilion of the Manila Hotel. Hundreds of high-level women leaders, dignitaries, and other distinguished people attended the event, which featured addresses by Dr. Lan Young Moon, President of the Women's Federation for World Peace, and former Vice President Annette Lu of the Republic of China (Taiwan). Former Senator Jamby Madrigal also came, representing H.E. Benigno S. Aquino III, President of the Republic of the Philippines.
The second day of the conference opened with Mayor Alfredo S. Lim of the City of Manila warmly welcoming the delegates to the capital of the Philippines. He stressed that Manila has always been ecumenical and universal because it is where many different cultures, religions, and influences have converged. He especially acknowledged his good friend, Former Senator Atty. Rene Saguisag, who was instrumental in his coming to the conference and explaining the work that UPF and the Unification Movement have been doing for the sake of peace and ecumenism not only in the Philippines but in close to 200 other nations around the world.
Hon. Ek Nath Dhakal, Minister of Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation from the Government of Nepal, as well as Gen. Terdsak Marrome, President of UPF-Thailand, spoke on the models of peace-building that they have initiated in their respective countries. In the final plenary, Bishop Lucrecio Alaban from the Capitol United Evangelical Church in the Philippines gave special remarks about Innovative Approaches to Peace after a video presentation on the Philippine Interfaith Peace Blessing Festivals. Then Dr. Walsh again took the floor and spoke on "Marriage and Family as the Foundation for World Peace"; he invited everyone to join in a toast for peace as a prelude to attending the Interfaith Peace Blessing Festival at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in the afternoon.
After lunch, the delegates travelled by bus to the Coliseum to join the 13,000 couples gathered there to renew their marriage vows. During the program, leaders of various faiths offered prayers of blessing. Dr. and Mrs. Yong officiated on behalf of Rev. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon. One of the highlights of the event was the powerful and inspiring speech delivered by former Speaker of the Philippine House of Representatives Hon. Jose C. De Venecia, Jr., who underscored the importance of the great work of Rev. and Mrs. Moon in bringing together people of many religions and civilizations around the world through the marriage blessing. He congratulated the organizers and the participants and stated that Father Moon would be very proud to see how the movement for peace which he started has gained ground, expanded, and developed not only in the Philippines but all corners of the world.
The International Leadership Conference was capped with a closing dinner at the ballroom of the Manila Hotel. Ambassador for Peace appointments were given to selected participants from different nations. In the end, people expressed appreciation for the conference and a desire to work together to promote peace in their own communities and nations.