Today’s submission of the framework agreement for peace, jointly defined and agreed upon by both panels of the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is the long-awaited turn in the road for many of Mindanao’s myriad travelers, wearied of war and sapped by conflict. With finality, there is a clear commitment to peace by both leaderships, and it is now a challenge to the rest of us to shoulder the load and support the greater task ahead.

At this moment where everything now seems possible, this happy, hope-filled and historic day also marks the next phase where the task becomes more crucial and the risks, as well as rewards, more poignant. This is why while we celebrate, let us continue to challenge ourselves to remain thorough, deliberate, transparent and open-minded to the expected cacophony of voices that will soon follow. Let us not lose our way but stand fast to the drive and vision that has sustained us since these peace talks began.

Today is clearly a day to celebrate for many of us, and let us do so. And in doing so, let us replenish our energies, revive our spirits, and look forward to the possibilities now opening before us. Let us enjoin those who have been waiting for clearer signals and direction to now step up and join us. Although we foresee a time of further challenges ahead, today’s event also reminds us of what is possible when we all commit ourselves to a common vision and purpose. Today, with a nod to the past, let us prepare ourselves to the grand task of building a just and sustainable peace for us all and for Mindanao.