FROM all the provinces that still have Filipinos who are indigenous peoples (IPs)–Aetas, Bagobos, Bilaans, Higaonons, Suban-ons, Igorots (we just wrote down names at the top of our head), and some 80 or more other native peoples who are exactly like our ancestors before they were Westernized–more than 20,000 of them will arrive in Metro Manila on Monday, October 26. Most of them are already in provinces adjacent to Manila.
The most publicized contingent is that from Mindanao. That’s because the latest and most media-covered atrocities against the Lumads have happened there of late.
Manilakbayan 2015 is one name given to the Lumad protest caravan. A much bigger number of these Lumad compatriots of ours than the few thousands who arrived in Manila in the past are coming because the deaths and injuries that they have suffered these past months of 2015 have been more bitter.
Various civil society, youth and student organizations are helping the Lumad protesters.
The following story, distributed by the Manilakbayan ng Mindanao 2015 association yesterday, fundamentally tells why the basics for those who are still unaware of the Lumads’ sufferings.
“A year after the last Manilakbayan ng Mindanao, the Southern Tagalog region and Mindanao have yet to achieve their calls – which was a basic wish for food and peace. As state terror tightens its death grip upon the peoples of both places, it was but necessary for them to wage a crusade for the similar advocacies, albeit with a larger delegation.
“Today, the Manilakbayan sets foot yet again in Southern Tagalog, arriving by Tabugon in Sta. Elena, Camarines Norte at about 10 in the morning; welcomed by delegates from the Quezon province, then marched to the Southern Luzon Command headquarters (SOLCOM HQ) Camp General Nakar in Lucena City.
“Both delegations united in this protest-crusade against widespread militarization in rural communities – which, counter to claims of peace and development in the areas, have only resulted in more casualties and poverty of the locals.
“According to Jumorito Guaynon, spokesperson of this year’s Manilakbayan ng Mindanao, both the peoples of Southern Tagalog and Mindanao have experienced plain warmongering from these military groups: mentioning the Lianga massacre last October 1, which killed 3 Lumad leaders and educators in aims of providing basic social services in far-flung areas.
“He also mentioned the recent threats and demolition of the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc. (MISFI) Academy in Brgy. White Culaman in Bukidnon by military forces, accompanied by the barangay chairman.
“It seems that [the government’s Oplan Bayanihan seemingly defeats its self-proclaimed development thrust by examples of destruction of community efforts such as schools and organizations. BS Aquino’s highly-touted program has spattered innocent blood,” said Goaynon, who is of the Higaonon tribe of Misamis Oriental.
“After the stopover at Quezon province, the 700-strong delegation from Mindanao met with a huge welcoming delegation at the University of the Philippines – Los Baños, where welcoming ceremonies were staged. More than 300 students waited for the Lakbayanis at the Los Baños highway to formally escort them inside the campus.
As the rest of the Southern Tagalog delegation met with the lakbayanis, they shared stories of repression and resistance.
“We are not really alone in calling against the plunder of our lands and death of our people. The sheer support those we met and enjoined with as we pushed through is really heart-warming, but, moreover, gives us higher resolve to carry on,” exclaimed Goaynon.
Diana de Chavez of BIGKISAN Southern Tagalog, a unity of people’s organizations in the region, said that the struggles in Southern Tagalog and Mindanao had been similar – as victims of widespread plunder of resources and a hotbed of atrocities committed by state forces.
“Last year, more than 70 combat battalions from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were stationed in the two locations combined, which was almost 70-80% of the armed strength of the AFP. Figures were not expected to dwindle for this year, as, according to de Chavez, human rights violations escalated in the two places.”.
Our Lumad fellow Filipinos will congregate at the Kampuhan sa Diliman at the University of the Philippines from October 26 to November 1. Please donate food and cash for them.