#RaiseYourVoice for the Lumad

LumadI do not know any of them personally; I haven’t had any encounter with them in the past. But when I heard the news about the gruesome killing of some of their men, mixed grief and anger were enough to tell me that same blood rushes through our veins, that I belong with them and they with with me; and that compels me to raise my voice and shout #StopLumadKillings.

They are the Lumad–an indigenous group of people in Surigao del Sur, Mindanao in the Philippines. They are not slaves. They are a free people. They are the Lumad–my kapwa Pilipino, my kapwa tao. 

Three of the Lumad leaders were recently killed for refusing to give up their ancestral lands to those who wanted to build coal mining plants in their place. The alleged killers were identified as the paramilitary “Mahagat-Bagani”.

Michelle, one of the eyewitnesses of the incident recalls: ““…armed men forced everyone to go out. In front of all those gathered at the basketball court, sat my father (Dionil Campos). They began shouting– because you believe this man and refuse the mines coming here we remain poor, we could all have better lives! Drop down!– they shouted to everyone and began shooting over our heads. Then the gun was turned on to my father, and at close range he was shot in the head…”

In one of the statements released by the Diocese of Tandag, Surigao del Sur, the diocese said, “One can see and understand that only those community of [lumads] who firmly stand to protect the forest and reject mining activities and anything that destroys nature were obviously the ones being hounded and intimidated supposedly by the aforementioned notorious group.”

In the militarization of Lumad schools, one man stood up to fight for a noble cause, and that is to provide a learning center for the Lumad children. He was Emerito Samarca or known as Tatay Emok, Executive Director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development. He was found dead in that same school where he devoted his life, with stab wounds in his neck, and a slit across his throat.

Manobo elder, Datu Juvillo Sinzo, was also not able to escape the evil hands of Mahagat-Bagani. He was “pulled to the tub. He was beaten, his arm broken, and shot” as told by another eyewitness.

(c) Loi Manalansan

(c) Loi Manalansan

All these three Lumad fought for what they know is right, and for what they know their people deserve–a land and natural resources of their own, a decent and peaceful life. But because of the capitalists’ greedy pursuit of profit, wealth, and power, they were robbed of the chance to provide this kind of life to their families and their community.

BUT THEY HAVE US–their fellow Filipinos, their fellow humans. Their fight would be declared ‘defeated’ if we refuse to continue their battle and if no single person would at least try to do so. If we do, then the fight goes on.

Currently, Lumads are still being forced to leave their lands caused by corporate mining interests. There are about 680 Lumad displaced through their neighboring cities, looking for refuge and safe haven. While there is still one of the last remaining intact rainforests of the Pantaron Mountain Ranges inhabited by the Lumads, the mountain range is threatened by mining concessionaires set to exploit 9000 hectares for coal mining, 2000 hectares of which is already in operation, and 6000 hectares for gold mining.

This is a form of modern day slavery, as what also occurs in many parts of indigenous lands across the globe. Lumads are free; but they are being oppressed and enslaved by heartless people who prefer to put profit over humans and the planet.

But let us remember this: we are much greater in number than these greedy oppressors. They may have strong connections with the higher ups; they may have the amount of wealth that can buy them resources and manpower. But on our end, we have our voices. If only we, in solidarity, would shout and cry out for justice, our collective voice would surely drown theirs. We would surely win this fight. So then, let us keep going to put an end to modern day slavery and other forms of social injustices.

The campaign on #StopLumadKillings will be hyped on October 26–on this day, over 700 Lumad will arrive in the Philippine capital, Manila, from a 1,500-km walk starting from Mindanao, to assert their right to life, land, and justice. Their struggles are our struggles. Let us join together and stand with the Lumad.

You can also help amplify their voices by joining us on Twitter in demanding PH president Noynoy Aquino to #StopLumadKillings.

Michelle (center) with the Lumad communities protesting against the killings in Mindanao. (c) Pinoy Weekly

Michelle (center) with the Lumad communities protesting against the killings in Mindanao. (c) Pinoy Weekly


This is my personal contribution to the Blog Action Day 2015 themed, #RaiseYourVoice

Sources:

350.org – People Over Profits: #StopLumadKillings

walkfree.org – Blog Action Day 2015

Lumad killings ‘extensively planned’ says Tandag diocese

SDGs and You

It is 2015 and many people are still perhaps somewhat clueless as to whether we have achieved or have in any way come closer to attaining the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

While nations may not have met all targets, the goals are a work in progress.

Now the world has adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) or known as the #GlobalGoals which breaks down the 8 MDGs into more specific goals. These are:

UNSustainableDevelopmentGoals_Brand-01

1 no poverty2 hunger3 good health4 education5 gender6 clean water7 energy8 work9 industry10 inequality11 sustainable cities12 consumption13 climate action14 water life15 land life16 peace17 partnerships Image source: www.un.org | Know more about each goal here.

17 goals with 169 targets can be quite overwhelming to meet for an organization or even a nation. But if we take one step at a time and work collectively, we can meet these goals.

While we act in our own little way, we should demand more from our governments. They need to prioritize the SDGs, put into place well researched policies and programs and ensure they are implemented.

There is no other way as if we don’t act now, we endanger our future. This is our hope for humanity.

Last September, I, together with other members of various civil society and non-government organizations and climate activists, was privileged to see the world premiere screening of “This Changes Everything”, a film adaptation of the same titled book by Naomi Klein. It is an epic attempt to re-imagine the vast challenge of climate change and poses the question, “What if confronting the climate crisis is the best chance we’ll ever get to build a better world?” Towards the end of the film, Klein said that those who are up there, drunk with greed and selfish desires in pursuit of the fraud ‘economic growth’, cannot be stopped unless they see a strong force of resistance from below—that’s us.

A similar idea was shared by Michelle Brown, a British academic and historian and a contributor for You’re History: How People Make a Difference, who said, “Once ordinary people become more socially and politically aware and active, it can become harder for their governments to be wantonly exploitative and corrupt – unless society becomes so cynical and blase about its politicians and their motives that it leaves them to get on with it without demanding better.”

I hope that cynicism won’t drown us, Filipinos. Instead, let hope arise and let our frustrations be converted into actions. We have much to offer and much to take care of, as we progress on several fronts.

Now we need to take the time to understand these SDGs and think of small ways on how we can contribute to the attainment of each goal. We must also try to think of innovative ways we can urge governments to implement the SDGs. It is through our actions, what is done at the grassroots level, that can bring about the achievements of the SDGs.

Be inspired by this video and join the people from all over the world to push for the #GlobalGoals.

What do you think about this? 🙂