We publish this final blog post by our colleague Galileo De Guzman Castillo on his participation in the Japan Peace March as an expression of solidarity to mark the 74th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9) and the ongoing World Conference Against A & H Bombs. Read more about Galil’s participation in the Japan Peace March from his notes from the field.



My name is Galileo de Guzman Castillo. I am from the Philippines. I work with Focus on the Global South, an activist policy think tank in Asia, with offices in Thailand, Cambodia, India, and the Philippines providing analysis and building alternatives for just social, economic, and political change. We are a collective of committed activists doing policy research, campaign work, political education, and grassroots capacity-building in order to generate critical analyses and debates on national and international policies on the issues of corporate-led globalization, neoliberalism, and militarization.

I am greatly honored and humbled to be marching together with fellow peace and nuclear abolition activists in the 2019 International Youth Relay Peace March in Japan. It is my first time to be in this beautiful country and I am grateful to be given the opportunity to be with the Japanese people and broaden my horizons and perspectives and learn from the stories and experiences of our Asian brothers and sisters, especially the Hibakusha and the Japanese youth.

As Laotian community development worker Sombath Somphone said, “The youth are the agents of change and drivers of transformation.” It is imperative that we build solidarities among the youth and students and allow them to be the torchbearers and leaders of genuine change. They are the hope of the present and next generations to come.

For a number of years, I have worked with different sectors and communities—peasants, fisherfolk, rural women, workers, indigenous peoples, students, and the youth. I have delved into research, campaign, and political education around the issues of climate and environmental justice, indigenous peoples’ rights, alternative regionalism, and peace.

My engagement with different peace groups, including Stop the War Coalition (StWC), Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Movement (MPPM), and No Nukes Asia Forum (NNAF) afforded my first glimpses of what it means to build peace from the ground and up, and raised my own questions on why many people continue to suffer from widespread poverty, deepening inequality, intensifying human rights violations, and persisting injustice; what is really meant by “peace”; and what would be concrete approaches to attaining just and lasting peace amidst intensifying violence and impunity.

Living in solidarity with different peoples’ organizations, coalitions, and movements, I learned the importance of analyzing the roots of the conflicts and understanding the context from the point of view of grassroots communities. I learned that the state of “unpeace” is the product of a complex combination of several factors in the social, economic, political, cultural, and environmental dimensions. I learned that “peace” is not only about eliminating wars and armed conflicts but also involves the struggle for social and environmental justice, equality, and sustainable development. Hence, the three thematic areas of work in my organization: Political Economy of Development, Power and Democracy, and Peoples’ Alternatives and the cross-cutting issues of Gender & Climate and Environmental Justice, all find resonance in this concept of just and lasting peace.

Our goals are to 1) dismantle oppressive economic and political structures and institutions; 2) create liberating structures and institutions; and 3) promote demilitarization and peace-building. These three goals are brought together in the paradigm of de-globalization, which is about shifting the global economy away from a focus on the needs of transnational corporations and toward a focus on the needs of the people, and strengthening the capacities of local and national economies.

I am privileged to learn from the Hibakushas and carry forward their passion, philosophy, and vision of a peaceful, just, and sustainable world. It is our duty to contribute to the strengthening of the peoples’ resistance and grassroots solidarities from the ground—for their struggles are our struggles, too.

In the Philippines, we are experiencing a tumultuous upheaval and a critical period in our history. We are facing an authoritarian, militaristic, and repressive regime. Unresolved conflicts and historical grievances provided the entry points for fundamentalism and extremism to take over.

The overall economic policy of the administration remains beholden to market, corporate, and neoliberal forces and interests. The environment and the commons are under threat of being obliterated by state and corporate extractivism and massive infrastructure investments under the government’s Build Build Build program. To fuel the growing economy of the country, there are plans to revive the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) and another 13 potential sites were also identified for future nuclear energy development across the Philippines.

It is as relevant as ever to be part of the growing movement of peace-loving peoples opposing all forms of war and nuclear weapons.

In the present critical conjuncture, this is the time for us to respond to the challenges of “unpeace” and to struggle and resist oppressive structures, institutions, and powers.

As Brazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire said in his book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, “The dominant elites consider the remedy to be more domination and repression, carried out in the name of freedom, order, and social peace (that is, the peace of the elites).”

There can be no peace with oppression, repression, and suppression. There can be no peace with the domination of the elites and tyranny of warmongers. There can be no peace without freedom, and no freedom without peace.

It is therefore imperative that we continually build and strengthen grassroots peoples’ solidarities and collectively weave the tapestry of just and lasting peace.

Our participation in this Peace March is our expression of solidarity with the Hibakusha and our contribution to the collective call for justice for the Hibakushas, with our strong determination to support the international campaign for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

I want to end this message with the lyrics from a song by the Filipino reggae band, Tropical Depression entitled, Kapayapaan (“Peace”):

Halina’t sumayaw sa ilalim ng araw
(Come and let us dance under the sun)

Maghawak-hawak ng kamay
(Let’s hold hands)

Isigaw nang sabay-sabay
(Together let us shout)

Kapayapaan, kapayapaan, kapayapaan, kapayapaan
(Peace, peace, peace, peace)

Kulay man nati’y magkaiba
(Our colors may differ)

Mundo natin ay iisa
(But we have one world)

Lupang uhaw sa pag-ibig
(A land thirsty for love)

Naghihintay sa halik ng langit
(Waiting for heaven’s kiss)

Mundo nating hati-hati
(Our divided world)

Pag-isahin nating muli
(Let us reunite it)