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28-30 July 2021. It’s energizing to reconnect with Rolivel Oliveros Elusfa and his team. He was my colleague in civilian ceasefire monitoring from 2006 to 2012 as part of a peacebuilding network. A few months ago, he contacted me and shared his passion to do peacebuilding and development among the Mandaya Indigenous communities. Now, we’re exploring a wider and deeper view of peacebuilding—where building peace is understood as encompassing a holistic and inclusive process of transformation: spiritual-ethical transformation, psycho-social transformation, socio-political transformation, and economic-ecological transformation.

Roliver Elusfa is a peace journalist. His news reporting gives voice to the suffering civilians due to war. After the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro — the peace accord between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front — Roliver and I lost contact with each other.

Last 18 April, I received a text message from him: “Hi, Dan! I understand you are still into coffee? Will you be willing to partner with a Mandaya community in Caraga town of Davao Oriental?” 

Our friendship began to be rekindled. “I’m looking at it as God’s plan,” he said, “for I believe there is no such thing as coincidence in this world. Everything,” he adds, “happens for a reason.”

I learned that he got married. He and his wife, Lourdesima ‘Joy’ Pua-Elusfa, are involved in a number of community development initiatives. Joy belongs to the Mandaya Indigenous People from Caraga town in the Province of Davao Oriental.

Last 28-30 July, through the bridging leadership of Roliver, the Mandaya Indigenous People in Caraga, Davao Oriental invited our PBCI-CFP Inclusive Development Team to explore partnership with them.

We learned that coffee was a traditional product among Mandaya farmers. The elevation of their farms ranges from 700 to 1,000 meters above sea level, where Robusta, Excelsia, Liberica, and Arabica coffee species would thrive well. But because there was “a lack of market” for coffee, they shifted to Abaca farming, “which recently has been pestered by yet unknown pest.”

Our PBCI-CFP IncluDev Team are currently assessing our interaction with the Mandaya people and reflecting on our holistic experiences while we were in their Ancestral Domain.

God willing, we will soon draft our Proposed Terms of Reference.