Learn the Lumad of Mindanao, their Culture and Condition

Photo by RMP-NMR

How do you understand the claims and fights of the minority groups? Is it by reading books and research papers? According to Dale’s cone of Experience Direct experience gives 90 percent retention. While reading just give 20 persent retention. To connect and understand the struggle of the minority and tribal groups particularly in Mindanao is a must. Not just because their claims are just and right but they are Filipinos too. The Philippines is developing. What you have enjoyed right now eating pasta, pizza; sleeping with your smooth bed in an airconditioned room are experiences that they also should have enjoyed. Because development should be inclusive.

However that is not their prime struggle. The Lumad struggle just like of Moro struggle is to live peacefully. To fully exercised their culture and belief in their ancestral domain without copromises and fear that they will be attacked by the state security forces and military-backed militias and will be displaced again from their ancestral domain.

The Lumad claim is legal under Republic Act No. 8371, otherwise known as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 (“IPRA”). Hailed as landmark legislation, the Act recognizes the Indigenous Cultural Communities’/Indigenous Peoples’ (“ICCs/IPs”) rights to their ancestral domains and ancestral lands.

But the narratives of the Lumads are very contrast to the IPRA stating on section 2, the State shall recognize and promote all the rights of Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs).

They are being harrased and displaced to their own lands. Their ancestral lands are at constant risk due to development projects like mining and extraction of natural resources as well as agricultural investments, which leave thousands of indigenous people in total unsettlement

Recently, 46 lumad families have been enduring wretched living conditions in an evacuation center in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, prohibited from using public comfort rooms and forced to defecate in an open area near the provincial capitol grounds where they are staying. The 182 individuals from the Tigwahanon-Manobo tribe fled their homes in Sitio Tibugawan, Municipality of San Fernando, Bukidnon, after about 12 armed men, supposedly led by Alde “Butsoy” Salusad fired at them after a wedding celebration on July 30 (interaksyon.com).

All the atrocities that they have experienced and will experience if this unjust oppression and struggle continues, still you could see hope in their eyes.

I have experienced living with the Manobo Pulangion, it is organized under Tribal Indigenous Oppressed Group (TINDOGA) . A 423-hectare of the disputed land was awarded to them by the National Commission on the Indigenous People (NCIP) through the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) number R10-QUE-0712-159.

Albeit it’s just two days I felt their hope and determination to end their struggle. Their living is basic as basic. We ate boiled eggplant, okra (lady’s fingers) and talbos ng kamote (camote tops) with ginamos (brined anchovies) and suka (vinegar) as a sauce in our breakfast with them. We experience how to harvest rice in their own way. The harvest was fruits of their 10 years struggle fighting for their lands and their lives. It has been 10 years long that they can’t harvest their plants because of their struggle with the capitalist and rich people in Bukidnon trying to occupy their land to make it as ranch and no intervention by the government.

Under the Ila-ila Lumad I understand their struggle and conditions. It is an interfaith exposure program to Lumad communties for religious leaders, members of the academe, students and professionals and other sectors who wish to know more about the Lumad of Mindanao.It is one of the component of the Healing the Hurt project implemented byn Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Region and partners and suppoerted by the European Union.

The ritual of Manobo Pulangiun was our welcome party. They slaughterd two native chicken asking permission to the land and every visitors gave a coins that symbolizes our own soul and body for safety purposes and chanting their majestic language as they slaughtered the two chicken with a Bolo. It was followed by the speech of the Datu Andong. He welcomed us and said the community was happy with our support and presence to the land. What moved me in his speech was when he said Lumad needs to be reconized and be known to the Word about their condition because he fear to the possibilities that their tribe will be passed into oblivion.

They didn’t need your tears, this I was saying to myself to the speech of the wife of the Datu Andong Andahan of Manobo Pulangion village in Quezon, Bukidnon. Her narrative sounded like a myth but certainly not a figment of any imagination because it was real experienced she was telling. Her story started when they lived peacefully until the elite who wanted to develop the land as it’s told succumbed their land and Lumads are displaced from their “Yutang Kabilin” (Ancestral domain). But I was not crying because I pitied them but because I was moved by their motivation, determination and hope that someday peace, justice for them will become reality and not just a dream.

Photo by RMP-NMR
Photo by RMP-NMR


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