The ZABIDA Mission in Zamboanga and Basilan - Philippines

Toward Peace and Human Security: Mobilizing grassroots power through the collaboration of Zabida. 

Our mission as Claretians in this affected part of the Philippines has been always to accompany the people in their struggles as we try to witness the Kingdom of God in our communities.

After a series of peace and development initiatives in Basilan and Zamboanga, the commitment to work for and with the communities in need, especially with the vulnerable sectors, needed a self-sustaining mechanism. The clinching factor was an organizing philosophy and system. It was time for integrating those initiatives for deeper connectivity, enrichment, and sustainability. The concept of Human Security provided that organizing framework and a community of kindred, experienced persons and organizations working within the circles of the Church and Civil Society would pursue it on the principles of autonomy and subsidiarity.

The decision to consort as ZABIDA- Zamboanga Basilan Integrated Development Alliance- has been a consensus of four non-governmental organizations with track records of service in the area. In Zamboanga City we have Katilingban Para Sa Kalambuan, Inc. (KKI), Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ) and Reach Out to Others Foundation, Inc. (ROOF) and in Basilan Province, Nagdilaab Foundation, Inc. (NFI).

Zamboanga and Basilan are two realities situated in the heart of Mindanao but historically very diverse. Zamboanga was the base of the colonial presence for many years- centuries and remains the center of the social, military, business and services of the region. Basilan - the island across the strait from  Zamboanga City – has been dominated by multinational businesses and conflict.

The twin problems of poverty and peacelessness are common to provinces in Zamboanga peninsula and Basilan, which are identified to be among the poorest in the Philippines. The protracted conflict and consequent disempowerment and low participation of local Mindanao communities in the long-term pursuit of their development and of the immediate solutions to urgent problems have contributed to a precarious state of human security.

To us, the application of Human Security has been the moral imperative underpinning the ZABIDA response to the challenging forces that have threatened the life and dignity of most of our people, i.e.,  poverty, violence, human trafficking, drug abuse, climate change and terrorism.  Such threats cannot be tackled through conventional mechanisms alone. They require a new consensus that acknowledges the linkages and the interdependencies between governance, development, human rights and peace.  Thus, it is liberational in that the configurations of Human Security would be defined in terms of freedom from want, freedom from fear, freedom to achieve development and live in dignity.  The key has been to work towards the EMPOWERMENT of the Marginalized sectors to reclaim their rights, uphold their dignity to create conditions of harmony and peace overcoming fear and want.

These have focused ZABIDA’s community-based services on economic security, peace, governance and security reform for poor urban and rural– communities.


a. Enhanced capacity and participation of local government units (Barangays and Municipalities) on participation and transparency and at the same time working with sectoral groups in the communities in formulating and implementing effective gender responsive policies and development plans.

b. Intensified advocacy for the rights of women, children and other marginalized sectors and improved mechanisms to increase access to basic services like housing, health, water and sanitation, education and livelihood.

We maintain two children’s centers, one for street children, Akay Kalinga, and the other center to take care for the victims of child trafficking, Tanglaw Buhay. Besides, we implement the program of Mindanao Youth Development for the Out-of-School-youth and the advocacy of children rights in the city of Zamboanga.

c. Strengthened promotion of the culture of peace in schools  Training CoP in community, civil society and government institutions and Security Sector…

d. Implement gender-responsive ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction and management. Implemented disaster risk prevention and climate change mitigation  and adaptation mechanisms in coordination with local stakeholders, like the creation of VERDE ZAMBOANGA integrating government agencies, Universities and Civil society to take care of the environment and educate the communities on the effects of the climate change


Interreligious Solidarity for Peace

This group is made up of Christians - Catholic, Protestants/ Evangelicals; Muslims from different groups and affiliations; and representatives of the Indigenous People - all leaders in their own right as well as spiritually-motivated citizens and faith communities.

The activities of the Solidarity have been guided by the central belief that religions are the resources that contribute to harmonious relations, rather than conflicts, in a community. Thus, woven into an interfaith matrix of dialogue and solidarity, the spiritual traditions of Islam, Christianity, and other religions are the spiritual wellsprings that yield the norms and values that underpin the culture of peace.  

This group currently coordinates a series of activities to promote human rights, conducts education for peace at various levels of formal education, and carries out its peace advocacy on a multi-level and multi-sectoral audience that includes children and youth in-school or off-school, soldiers, the police and other armed groups, teachers, and  community leaders.

Our work tries to offer a unique understanding of life that conceives of peace as the center of human behavior and of communitarian relationships. This is an alternative to all the existing manifestations of violence in society, trying to replace them with new social structures that encourage relationships and processes of living together in peace.   This gives place to a new type of education that accommodates differences and manages dissent.  It believes in the search for peaceful alternatives that abound.

These new cultural styles imply above all an attitude of acknowledgment and mutual respect, accepting cultural differences of all the different groups with a special sensitivity for the cultural and religious elements of the diverse communities. A culture of peace implies a deep encouragement of reconciliation, acknowledging our wounds and capacities for violence that marked our history. Only from an attitude of forgiveness can the solid basis of hope for peace be built.

This proposal of peacebuilding is in itself a process of dialogue among the diverse religious traditions.  It is also a process of intra-community dialogue in which members seriously need conversion to accept, from the perspective of faith, the more genuine demands of the religious experience while overcoming other fundamentalist insinuations.  This is the authentic inter-religious dialogue from the same historical moments and realities of life that encourage actions of justice, human dignity and progress among all the members of the community. The Healing and Reconciliation of the cultural/religious communities are very integral part of this process of Peace-building

Especial care for the youth: YOUTH SOLIDARITY FOR PEACE with special care for projects of EDUCATION AND RECONCILATION, and leadership training, peace camps and other for a for the youth.

Fr. Angel Calvo, CMF

"¡Somos misioneros! La Misión pertenece a nuestra identidad más profunda". | "We are missionaries! The Mission belongs to the core of our most fundamental identity".

MS 1 (Cf. CC 2; Dir 26.)