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Global Peace Festival at Rizal Park
Kathleen Anne H. Johnson, Manila Bulletin Online
Manila, Philippines
December 11, 2007

Peace advocates from all over the world will gather today at the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park, Manila to celebrate the Global Peace Festival (GPF), an event organized by the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) in partnership with Service for Peace (SFP), the Manila Bulletin, and the Manila Hotel.

With the theme "One Family Under God," the festival aims to gather worldwide support for peace-making efforts and for implementing the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (UNMDG).

"We believe that peace begins within the individuals and then it extends to our family, the society, and the world," said UPF-Asia Secretary General Ursula McLackland.

She said the Philippines was chosen as the venue for this year's GPF ceremony because its citizens are "peace-loving people who cherish their families and uphold family values."

"Philippine GPF can be a model for the world. It promotes the family as the foundation for peace. It is in the family where the values necessary for peace building are learned," she said.

UPF Philippines Secretary General Celestino Jose Navalta Jr. said 200,000 students, teachers, and leaders from the government and civil society are expected to join the various activities in the festival.

A peace parade from Roxas Boulevard to the Quirino Grandstand will take place at 2 p.m.

It will be followed by a free concert from peace endorsers such as Pops Fernandez, Jay-R, boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, and other local artists.

The program for the main event will begin at 4 p.m. with a universal prayer of peace. President Arroyo and House Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. are expected to join the mass prayer.

"One of the ways to achieve peace is by living for the sake of others. Peace is possible if people would always consider the welfare of their fellowmen," said Navalta.

The GPF is a series of events taking place this year in Britain, France, Italy, Germany, and other parts of Europe and Asia, aimed at creating new partnerships to promote world peace.

It is an opportunity for thousands of activists and representatives from nongovernment organizations and other organizations who share a common vision for peace, to share best practices, laud achievements and launch new activities together.

The GPF 2007 includes talks and seminars exploring the role of faith and spiritual values in efforts to accomplish the UNMDG, ranging from diminishing extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS, to providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015.

It looks into ways that the world can actually become a "global family" by bringing people together across the dividing lines of faith, ethnicity and age.

Source: Manila Bulletin Online, http://www.mb.com.ph

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