ASEAN Peace Poetry Night & ASEAN-IPR Discussion Series Session 7: “the Role of Folklore (Local Wisdom) in Peacebuilding”

ASEAN Peace Poetry Night & ASEAN-IPR Discussion Series Session 7: “the Role of Folklore (Local Wisdom) in Peacebuilding”




Friday, 17 December 2021

ASEAN-IPR Zoom + YouTube Channel

The ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (ASEAN-IPR) closed the year of 2021 by holding a celebration of the impact and importance of arts and culture on peace and peacebuilding. The Institute held two events back-to-back on Friday, 17 December 2021 – The ASEAN Peace Poetry Night and the seventh and final session of the ASEAN-IPR Discussion Series 2021.

Both events were held in relation to one of ASEAN-IPR’s Priority Research Areas, particularly the Role of Local Communities, Local Wisdom and Knowledge in Peace Building, Peace Process and Conflict Resolution. The Poetry Night seeks to celebrate the art of poetry as a tool for peacebuilding by bringing a selection of authors – out of the 25 selected poems (from 196 works submitted to the Institute) to be later published – to read their poems. During the event, the Panel of Experts for the ASEAN-IPR Publication of ASEAN Peace Poems made an appearance as well – Okky Madasari (Indonesia), Hariz Fadhilah (Brunei Darussalam), and Melizarani T. Selva (Malaysia) gave a live-reading of their own respective poems on peace.

The seventh Session of the ASEAN-IPR Discussion Series 2021 was done in the spirit of the Institute’s function as a knowledge hub and to engage with civil society and relevant stakeholders to promote peacebuilding. Taking on the theme “The Role of Folklore (Local Wisdom) in Peacebuilding”, the Institute invited representatives from government and non-governmental organisations and grassroots institution from the region to share their experience in transforming conflict through community-led peace initiatives.

The Discussion was moderated by Ms. Amina Rasul-Bernardo, President of the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy, and member of ASEAN Women for Peace Registry (AWPR), Philippines. Mr. Makara Nom (Officer of National Library, Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts of Cambodia), Ms. Visna Vulovik (Development and Gender Specialist of the Wahid Institute), and Ms. Ei Pwint Rhi Zan (Managing Director of Third Story Project Myanmar) shared their works in relation to local wisdom, storytelling and peacebuilding, along with its successes and challenges.

A common point that throughout the discussion was that local wisdom plays a great importance in building culture of peace, whether through incorporating it into school curriculums, establishing a peace village, or promoting the positive message of peace by storytelling. Storytelling has been a tool used not only to entertain children, but to also inherit moral or social values for newer generations. Using folklore as one of its instances, we can learn from our ancestors on how we should address certain problems/issues. Therefore, we can influence the younger generations to generate culture of peace. However, it was acknowledged that the Covid-19 pandemic and conflict situations have hampered the effort to build culture of peace through folklore.

On the other hand, the education sector may support the promotion of folklore in the spreading of positive messages of peace. For instance, the Commission on Higher Education and Heavenly Culture of the Philippines has been tasked to inculcate culture of peace within the schools, among the students and the professors. Incorporating peace education, including folklore within the curricula, is crucial to involve the participation of youths in eliminating violence in the society. Furthermore, it can also help countries with a low literacy rate. Peace education through community-building can help in promoting peace for those who do not have the access to education. In addition, we may also utilise technology development to spread folklore through audiobooks and radios in order to reach a larger audience.

In his closing remarks, Executive Director of ASEAN-IPR, Mr. I Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja, emphasised that peace is a constant vigilant work that must be safeguarded, not something to be taken for granted – for there would be no prosperity and happiness of the people without positive peace. The ASEAN-IPR Discussion Series 2021 has highlighted pertinent issues in the region for the ASEAN-IPR and its partners to learn from, brainstorm, and improve all aspects of life to foster peace.

The evening brought together more than sixty (70) participants joining from both the Zoom platform as well as its live streaming on YouTube Channel and Instagram Live from the ASEAN-IPR’s official accounts. The ASEAN-IPR Discussion Series 2021 is supported by the Embassies of Finland and Ireland in Jakarta.

Stay tuned for next year’s Discussion Series and many more activities during the Institute’s 10th year. Be sure to subscribe to the ASEAN-IPR’s YouTube Channel, visit our website and follow our social media for the latest information and/or updates on our activities.

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