Philippinen: Loreta Navarro-Castro

We may not see the results in our lifetime, but we must go on believing that someday that critical mass will be reached and more meaningful change will happen.

— Loreta Navarro-Castro

Loreta Navarro-Castro (born 1948) is one of the pioneers of peace education research in the Philippines and founded the Center for Peace Education, based at Miriam College in Manila. As president of the college from 1987 to 1997, she took the lead in introducing peace-focused courses into the school curriculum and declared the school a Zone of Peace. Since 1997, the CPE has engaged with kindred institutions and has touched the lives of thousands of teachers and young people through its training programs in conflict resolution, peer-mediation and the promotion of a culture of peace.

In the early 1970s, before the dark days of Martial Law in the Philippines, Loreta Navarro-Castro, a young history teacher, would join protest rallies and marches against the regime of then President Ferdinand Marcos in Manila's tension-filled streets. She would join the marches but could not bring herself to mouth the angry chants, thinking: "Is this the message that we want to give? Will this kind of language change Marcos' heart and get us the results we want?" Years later, her school, Maryknoll College, sent her to a conference on peace, economic equity, social justice and ecological balance in the United States. The ideas resonated with her right away. Shortly after the People Power Revolution of 1986 that toppled the dictator, Loreta was appointed president of Maryknoll College. During her 10-year term, she mainstreamed peace-focused courses into the school's curriculum, and convened a Peace Core Group. In 1991, the school declared itself a Zone of Peace, pledging to promote caring relationships, cooperation, nonviolent conflict resolution, and a simple lifestyle. Ending her term as president in 1997, she founded the Center for Peace Education at Miriam College (the new name for Maryknoll College) to continue her peace advocacy. Thousands of teachers and young people have benefited from its training programs and Loreta has learned that peace education is not just content, but also a process where "the medium is the message". She says: "Working for peace makes personal demands on us. We have to live it in our own lives, so that people will see us as credible agents. Otherwise the peace message will fail."

Center for Peace Education (CPE) Miriam College