By Patrick van Wersch

The fourth edition of the Mindanao Peace Games is coming up fast. In just three days, more than four hundred student-athletes, coaches and officials from twelve colleges and universities from all six regions of Mindanao will gather at the FSUU campus in Butuan City to once again share experiences and grow in their roles as leaders in sports.

Convener of the Mindanao Peace Games (MPG), Mr. Noli Ayo, is glad to see this many participants, but he assures that MPG is not a numbers game.

“We don’t judge ourselves by the number of schools that join in. It’s about quality and seeing students and sports leaders replicate what they learn here in their own schools, their own communities. With MPG we make an intentional effort to instill into everyone’s mind the big role they can play as influencers in their towns, cities and schools. And guided by the MPG core values, we know that they will be catalysts for something positive.”

Idea meant to be shared

Those values—community building, transformational leadership and women empowerment—underpin the vibrant movement that MPG has grown into over the past four years. Ayo is particularly pleased about seeing emulations of that movement all over Mindanao, for instance in Ozamiz and Maguindanao where platforms in sports are being created to empower leaders. Checkout


44 participants from 12 colleges and universities representing all 6 regions of Mindanao. 2nd Mindanao Leadership Summit for Athletes. July 26 to 28. Butuan City.

“During the Mindanao Leadership Summit for Athletes earlier this year in Butuan City, the participating schools pledged to take what they learned and apply those lessons to their own projects. Student-athletes of La Salle University Ozamiz, for instance, organized a leadership forum for athletes. In Marawi, MLSA leaders spoke to fellow MSU students about leadership. In Cagayan de Oro, student-athletes from Xavier University just finished a project aimed at facilitating young leaders to be game changers in their communities. Those examples illustrate perfectly that MPG is really a template for local transformative movements. It’s an idea meant to be shared.”

Ripple effect

Looking ahead at the fourth edition of the MPG in Butuan, Ayo hopes that it will further strengthen the resolve of the current group of MPG leaders and that it will encourage them to continue providing meaningful experiences when they return home. He also wishes that the student-athletes will see the value of meeting new people, making friends, and sharing experiences.


Overview of speakers and facilitators of the first ever Mindanao Coaches Convention held in Davao City, September 20-22, 2018.

“Compared to four years ago, we now have former student-athletes who have gone into coaching. For those who went on to pursue careers outside of sports, I hope they apply the MPG values in doing significant things in their communities. We are going for the ripple effect. Through instilling stronger characters, down the line, we’ll have better leaders who can be real game changers in their respective fields.”

Testament to a shared dream

That the MPG movement is picking up steam is evidenced by the growing number of corporate partners that are helping make possible the various events occurring throughout the year. According to Ayo, what triggers them most to offer their support, is that MPG demonstrably shows that it goes beyond sports.”

“We can convincingly demonstrate that we ‘walk the talk.’ Yes, we are creating platforms in sports, but the outcome is that we’re creating a generation of community leaders that value experience and venture into life with an open mind.”

“MPG is a testament to a shared dream,” continues Ayo. “Starting with a few kindred people, having little resources, we were able to find the right individuals to take it further. That’s a cliché, but that’s what happened with MPG. We can only imagine what kind of world we can have if we travel even further together.”

The Mindanao Peace Games 2018 will take place between October 26-30 in Butuan City. Live updates will be posted on the MPG official Twitter (@MPG2018) and Instagram (@mindanao_peace_games) accounts accompanied by the hashtag #MPG2018Butuan. The next two editions of the Mindanao Peace Games are set to take place in Zamboanga (2019) and Iligan (2020).