Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Zamboanga City – Hundreds of Muslim students whose studies were disrupted by the kidnappings in Zamboanga City are coping up with their lessons by reading and meeting up with their teachers in a library built for them this summer.

Following the soft opening of the Kristiyano-Islam (Kris) Peace Library in Barangay Manicahan here last April 6, kids from Manicahan and Sacol Island have been converging at the library to read up and learn basic computer lessons.

Teachers in Sacol Island have refused to return to the island after three of their colleagues were abducted by suspected Abu Sayyaf men on January 23. The three public school teachers remain in captivity.

“We miss school and we miss our teachers but we are happy to see them and catch up with schooling in the Kris library,” said Sitti Abdulwahid, 8.

The Kris Library was put up by a Christian and Muslim couple, Armand and Annora Sahi Nocum, through the A-Book-Saya Group (ABSG) book-donation project. The ABSG advocacy is aimed at flooding Mindanao with books to counter the gun culture; and to give Muslim children in perceived Abu Sayyaf lairs the option to pursue peaceful career over kidnappings and banditry.

To entice poor Muslims and Christian students to visit the library regularly, ABSG had offered free computer lessons; the free use of its computers; and dangled scholarships to 50 students who will visit the library at least 25 times this summer. Those visiting less frequently will receive old used books, school supplies, and other educational materials.

But the enticement was so effective that over 200 students have signed up to take computer lessons and who visit the library regularly to read up, play with educational materials and meet up with their teachers, some of whom are themselves regular patrons of the library.

With the increasing number of poor students visiting the Kris Library, the Nocums have appealed to people in Metro Manila to donate more books, school supplies, toys, and old but usable computers and printers.

Donors may drop donations at the Satti Grill House in SM Fairview or call 7992745, 3393732, 09175208013, 09195897879, or check out their blog at: www.sattisfaction.blogspot.com.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Books, Computers for Mondanao Kids This Summer; Not Guns

By Arizza Ann Nocum

So many Muslim and Christian children discovered a new place to spend their summer in last April 6, 2009.

The Kristiyano-Islam (Kris) Peace Library in Barangay Manicahan, Zamboanga City celebrated its soft opening with the presence of more than 300 people. Teachers, the local school superintendent, three principals, Barangay council members, parents, and—most especially—their children came to check out the library. The blessing was officiated by both a local priest and a Muslim Imam.

That day, Muslim and Christian kids from Manicahan and surrounding barangays started reading the books in the library. They also tried out the computers—some of them having done so for the first time since they may only have learned from cardboard drawings in their school beforehand.

To encourage kids to visit the library, basic computer lessons are now being offered. Furthermore, those who visit at least 25 times this summer are qualified to be one of the 50 to be given a scholarship grant. Those visiting less frequently will receive old used books, school supplies, and other educational materials.

The problem, however, lies in the fact that 200 children, as of now, have promised to visit the library everyday. Not only do they want to get a scholarship grant, but they are also encouraged by their parents to go there in order to have a more productive summer. Parents of Muslim children, meanwhile, fear that their kids may be lured by their older male counterparts into a life led by guns.

The construction of the Kris Library is still ongoing; only the first floor was completed and arranged for the soft opening. The second floor is still being built.

Once done, the second floor will have a room for planned livelihood training seminars, toilets, and even sleeping quarters for teachers who volunteer to help in the near future.

In the light of these demands, more help is needed in order to finish the construction, supply the programs with educational materials, and increase the number of scholarship grants that may be given.

With more of these resources, more children will surely be saved from a life of terrorism and ignorance.


Ashia Sahi Nocum, the country's only Filipino-Muslim international junior golf competitor, scored her fourth hole-in-one in a practice round Friday for the qualifying tournament of the 2009 Callaway Junior Golf Championships at the Manila Southwoods golf course in Cavite.

The eight-year-old Nocum used a pitching wedge to drive the ball straight into the 7th hole of The Legends course, 70 yards from the tee off area which was adjusted for junior golf players participating in the three-day first leg of the Callaway event. Winners of the event will represent the country in the Callaway Junior World Golf Tournament in the US.

The ace by the incoming 3rd grader of the School of the Holy Spirit-Quezon City was witnessed by fellow jungolfers and siblings Luigi, Enzo and Annika Castro; and their coach Felix Fernando. Nocum is currently being trained by golf coach Juanito Pagunsan, father of Juvic.

Nocum, then 6, made her first ace during the practice round of the 2007 Callaway Junior World Golf Championships in Colina Golf Park Course in San Diego, California. Nocum landed 5th place in the world tournament.

Seven months later, Nocum aced the fourth hole at the Riviera Golf and Country Club Executive Course. She then used a three-wood when her ball hit the pin and landed straight into the par 105-yard hole.

About a month later on March 9, 2008, Nocum again aced Riviera’s Hole No. 4 during the Champions for the Future golf tournament. It was then that friends started calling her the “Muslim Ace”, a title she was proud of.

Ashia, who represents Zamboanga City and Sulu, has started showing interest in golf in her diapers at two years old; started hitting the driving range at four; and played in the fairways at five.

Nocum is the daughter of Armand Dean Nocum and Annora Sahi Nocum, a former reporter of the Philippine Inquirer and a Muslim entrepreneur, respectively.


Thursday, April 16, 2009


Dearest Friends of Kris,

We are back in Manila and happy that we have all fulfilled our collective desire to do something for hundreds of poor kids in Mindanao.

Last April 6, we celebrated the soft-opening of the Kristiyano-Islam Peace Library or Kris. About 300 teachers led by the local school superintendent, three school principals, the barangay council; and children and their parents attended the opening ceremonies.

Kris was doubly-blessed because we got both a Catholic priest and an Imam to bless the occasion. javascript:void(0)From apprehensions that there will be few kids showing interests in books, we now have the beautiful problem of how to accommodate the big number of kids who visit the half-completed Kris Peace library regularly.

To ensure that our library will have meaning and significance to the lives of poor kids, we have offered to give basic computer lessons and as of today, about 120 kids have already registered to take the lessons.

To ensure that they do go and read in the library this summer, we also promised to give scholarship to 50 elementary and high school kids who will visit the library for at least 25 times this summer. The idea is to inculcate in them the habit of going to the library regularly and for them to embrace Kris as a place not only of knowledge but fun and games.

However, as of today, about 200 kids have already signified their intentions to visit the library daily, egged on by parents who worry that they while away their summer vacation riding carabaos, watching television, swimming in rivers and seas; or getting into drugs. For Muslim mothers, there are fears the older males in the family will teach their kids the quick way of making money in these parts – banditry and kidnappings (this usually result in their kids being unwilling to return to school anymore, thinking guns are the only tools they need to survive.

Also, we put up a program where those who go to the library for lesser days will get some of the used books you gave us, school supplies and other education materials.

While there, we saw signs of hope to remind us that we are on the right track in what were doing. We learned, for example, that in the local public school, three Muslim kids have graduated as class valedictorians for several years now. This shows that given the support from us who have something to give, we can really make the difference of transforming the lives of poor Muslims and stopping the rise of kidnappings and banditry.

In this light, we appeal for your continued help for us to complete the second floor of the library where we’ll hold livelihood training seminars; toilets for boys and girls; and sleeping quarters for teacher-volunteers who come from nearby islands.

We’ll also welcome your help in giving us school supplies and footing the bill for some of the scholars so we can increase the beneficiaries to about 100 (we’ll only shoulder the enrolment cost of about P500 per students).

We hope you’ll never get tired of helping us. As it is, we’re already so much grateful for all your help.

Armand & Ann Nocum
Kris Peace Library