Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I’ve had this dream of wanting to start a book donation program for years now. Actually, several years ago, I had brought books donated by Sen. Loren Legarda to Zamboanga City and gave them to a school in a mix Christian-Community. You know this is something you can do only when you have the luxury of time and resources.
But last April, this idea came back to me when the Zamboanga Cathedral was bombed and so I started emailing friends a letter of appeal to end the bias towards Muslims and for us to flood Mindanao with books.
Then the MILF-MOA issue literally exploded with bombs and bullets in Mindanao and that was when I resumed my book-donation initiatives. I then started drumbeating that appeal in a local paper and the national columnists.
But yesterday, something I read convinced me that I should no longer just put off this advocacy to a part-time work and that I should sacrifice more of my time to make it a full-time initiative.
The reality check came in the form of news that 12-16 year-old child warriors were believed to be behind the kidnapping of several peace advocates belonging to an NGO group headed by Fr, Angel Calvo, who belongs to the Claretian missionary order. I am a Claretian ex-seminarian and Fr. Calvo was the one who officiated the marriage of me and my wife.
The issue of child warriors definitely hit closer to home this time.
Thus, I am doubling up my effort to reach out to as many people as possible for them to support my dream to flood Mindanao with books, education and goodwill, instead of guns, hatred and ignorance.
Here’s a letter I’ve been sending out recently and I hope you can help me distribute it via email to all your friends and loved ones. Thanks a lot.


Assalamu Alaykum (Peace be with You)

I am Armand N. Nocum, a former reporter of the Inquirer...

...the recent outbreak of war in Mindanao has shown us
that we should do more than offer Muslim food here.

This is the reason why we decided to start our Books-4-Guns
project. We plan to flood Mindanao with used and new books, magazines,
and all kinds of reading materials to open up the eyes of young
Christians and Muslims there to the reality that they have a better
future picking up a book than a gun.

Although I'm a Christian and my wife is a Muslim who grew up
in Zamboanga City and Sulu, respectively, we had a common experience
of having many guns in our childhood but remembering books to be very
rare. Old newspapers can only be read as they are brought home wrapped
in dried fish bought from the city.

We call our small project A-book-Saya Group (ASG). Of course
it is a play on the word Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) because we want to
show how the giving of books could help stop one more potential
terrorist or rebel from picking up guns or bombs. We'll find
fulfillment even if in our lifetime, our books could help stop only
one or two potential terrorists from bombing civilians.

We hope you could be part of our ``group'' and help us disseminate our
ASG project to the public. Initially, we have designated our Satti
Grill House outlets in SM Fairview Food Court and at the corner of MH
del Pilar and Padre Faura as drop-off points for the books. Later, we
hope to tie up with newspapers, private and government firms to help
take in the books.

Donors may contact us through Nos. 7992745/3393732 or 09175208013/
09195897879 or at and

Mucho y mas gracias

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