The TAYO Connection: Local officials have been pushing BFP to join TAYO for a long time. President Jason Balag-ey eventually took notice when he learned that “A” meant accomplished and he certainly wanted the brotherhood to earn that title.
An eye for an eye… so the saying goes. Jason aims to prove this wrong. As a victim of gang violence, Jason does not ultimately feel hatred but sympathy for these people’s ignorance on the result of their actions.
He initiated the project Youth for Peace after experiencing gang-related violence first-hand. Once, he saw a 13 year-old boy die by the hand of a fellow teen. Another time, he was stabbed while trying to mediate during a fight. This is the reality that moved him to establish the Brotherhood for Peace.
Jason estimates that there are at least 200 members in each of Baguio City’s 28 gangs, each engaging in some form of illegal behavior, like rape and drug selling, aside from the escalating gang violence.
BFP works to disband gangs through awareness campaigns and vigilant protection of defecting gang members. To intensify the program, the organization partnered with the local authorities and agencies such as the Department of Social Welfare Department (DSWD), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Baguio Character Council, and Balikatan sa Kaunlaran.
Seminars and corresponding activities on livelihood, nation-building, and social volunteerism are held to engage participants. Through these activities, they are transformed into productive members of the community who work to help tourism, environmental protection, as well as campaign against child abuse and illegal drugs.
Through the efforts of BFP, known gang members are now raising awareness on the perils of being in a gang by addressing audiences in different schools— proof that peace can reign amidst adversity and even past enemies can have a semblance of brotherhood. These sharing sessions present opportunities for former gang members to relate experiences first-hand to their audience, making their stories relatable and realistic to ordinary youth. They have also resorted to more popular medium such as rap and dance to spread the ideals of BFP to Baguio City’s youth.
Converting the TAYO prize: The BFP aims to create a short film depicting the realities of joining a gang. To make the film more believable, former gang members will portray their roles. They plan to reach more OSYs in Baguio through film showings.