For second straight year, Lumad students finish schools in Haran

For the second straight year, Lumad students got to finish one school year in the evacuation center in UCCP Haran.

Some 56 Lumad students, mostly from Kapalong, finished pre-school to grade six levels, and held a moving up ceremony Friday at the University of Immaculate Conception grounds, one of the schools supporting the Lumad evacuees.

“This is now our second graduation here in the evacuation center,” said Ricky Balilid, a lumad teacher of Misfi Academy.  He reiterated the call of the Lumads to pull out military troops and arrest paramilitary members who have caused their displacement for them to be able to go home.

Balilid said the children longed to go home since their parents have went home earlier this year through the Save Our Schools, PASAKA and Department of Social Welfare and Development, yet they opted to stay as school teachers have been targeted by the paramilitary Alamara.

Continue reading For second straight year, Lumad students finish schools in Haran

Salugpongan teacher illegally arrested, charged by CIDG

Amelia Pond, a Salugpongan Learning Center teacher and coordinator of Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Southern Mindanao was illegally arrested during the RMP National Assembly on August 19 by members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Cebu City on trumped-up charges of murder and frustrated murder.

Last October 16, 2014, Dominiciano Muya, an agriculturist/teacher of Salugpongan Center was illegally arrested by combined forces of CIDG and AFP in Davao del Norte. He was charged with trumped-up cases of murder and frustrated murder, robbery and damage to properties and is currently detained in Bukidnon.

We condemn the illegal arrests and attacks on community teachers. They are teachers, not killers!

Actress Jodi Sta. Maria visits lumads in Haran

(published in SunStar Davao July 25, 2016)

IT WAS not the first time that the Lumads at UCCP Haran Center was visited by a star.

Still, many of them were star-struck when Jodi Sta. Maria (or more known with her screen name as “Amor Powers” in one of her teleseryes) walked in with a smile for everyone.

She also visited the children in their makeshift classrooms, and personally gave them bags and school supplies.

“Huwag niyong hayaan na makuha ‘yung pag-asa na nasa puso ninyo, yong pangarap na isang araw babalik kayo sa lupa ninyo. ‘yun ang huwag niyong i-give up (Don’t let them take the hope in your heart that one day you will be back to your land, never give it up),” was Ms. Jodi’s inspiring message to the Lumad kids.

Continue reading Actress Jodi Sta. Maria visits lumads in Haran

Dear President Duterte, Let Mindanawons march with you this SONA

On July 18, 3,000 Mindanao Lumad, farmers, Moro, workers and activists embarked on a Manilakbayan (caravan) to take part in President Rodrigo Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 25. This is the first time that a significant contingent from Mindanao will be taking part in the SONA event in Manila.

Today marks the third day of our Manilakbayan and we are currently in Tacloban.  With each day, hundreds more are expected to join our caravan.  Most have come from the countryside, victims of continuing militarization and human rights violations. They hope that the Duterte government will hear their cries and address their grievances.

With hope in our hearts, we’re now travelling across the country to witness Duterte’s SONA and appeal to him to hear our plea for change.

Continue reading Dear President Duterte, Let Mindanawons march with you this SONA

Fire in lumad evacuation injures 4 children

Four lumad children in UCCP Haran sanctuary were hurt when fire was set off in their evacuation shelter early 2 am at February 24.  Two dormitory buildings in the church compound was also torched down minutes after the incident.

Two of the lumad children were treated at the hospital for second degree burns Continue reading Fire in lumad evacuation injures 4 children

Lumads’ plight moves Vagina Monologue playwright Eve Ensler to tears

Eve Ensler, founder of One Billion Rising global campaign turns emotional after hearing the stories of the Lumad evacuees inside the evacuation center at a church compound in Davao City on Friday, February 12. (Ace R. Morandante/ Continue reading Lumads’ plight moves Vagina Monologue playwright Eve Ensler to tears

Manilakbayan highlights

Relive the moments of Manilakbayan ng Mindanao 2015 in this interactive timeline made by the alternative online newsgroup Manila Today. Click here

The Manilakbayan 2015 was a protest caravan from Mindanao to various areas in Visayas, Southern Tagalog and Manila to gather support to the Mindanao Lumads’ call for justice and human rights. The main issues raised by the 700 Manilakbayanis are the attacks on Lumad schools and the Lumad killings by the military and paramilitary.

Among the highlight events were:

Lumad children strengthen defense of their schools amid intensified attacks

TANDAG CITY – As their schools may be occupied or closed temporarily by soldiers, and lumad leaders have been extinguished in their communities, the lumad children in the First Mindanao-wide Lumad Children Congress express their strong desire to finish their schooling.

The congress held in Tandag City from October 6 to 8 was organized by Kalumaran Mindanao and Save Our Schools Network to gather and raise the morale of students and support groups to defend the children from the attacks of state security forces including the military and paramilitary groups.

Such desire was expressed by 13 year-old Manobo student Apad from the ALCADEV in Surigao del Sur:

“Bisan pila ilang patyon nga Dionel, Bello ug Sir Emok daghan pa ming mga bata ang motumaw aron mopadayon sa edukasyon nga ilang nasugdan” (No matter how many more Dionel, Bello and Sir Emok would be killed, we are among the many children who will continue with our education that they have started for us), Apad said.

Last September 1, lumad leader Dionel Campos, Datu Bello Sinzo and ALCADEV Executive Director Emerito ‘Emok’ Samarca were murdered by paramilitary groups in front of the children and parents, based on accusations that they are NPA supporters.

Al, a 17 year-old Manobo student of MISFI (Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc.) Academy from Kapalong, Davao del Norte said the attacks on schools is due to the interests of government and corporations to engage in mining operations in their ancestral domain.

“Gusto nila nga papahawaon ang atong magtutudlo sa atong komunidad, para ipadayon nila ang pag mining o pag ilad-ilad sa atong tanan” (They want to drive our teachers out of our community, to pave the entry and continue mining and to deceive us),” said Alvin.

The mining interests also tear apart Lumad communities as soldiers recruit paramilitaries and organize their own lumad bandit groups to wreak havoc in the communities.

“Mao nga kita, importante kaayo nga kita maka eskwela ug kita dapat mga kabataan, hatagan nila og katungod nga maningil sa ilaha (That is why, it is important for us to go to school for we children are entitled to our rights and seek accountability from the government),” Al said.

Even with the attacks, lumad schools have increased all over Mindanao to serve more lumad children from last year’s 146 to 162 schools in Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental, Surigao del Sur, Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon, and Sarangani Province. The SOS Network said these schools are servicing 6,000 students from pre-school to grade school and has garnered several recognitions for genuinely servicing communities not reached by the government’s public education services.
A 12 year-old Blaan student of CLANS (Center for Lumad Advocacy and Services) school, Wil, said that he is thankful that a school was established for their tribe as this would give him a chance to teach the future generations of his people.

Another student, 16-year-old Lando from Talaingod, Davao del Norte, said he wants to be a lawyer to defend their tribe from people who wanted to exploit their ancestral lands like large scale mining companies and the military.

“Bisan pirmi gina-ipit among mga eskwelahan, nagkadaghan gihapon among eskwelahan, nagpakita lang ni nga samot nga nilig-on ang among baruganan ug magpadayon mi para makab-ot namo among mga damgo (Even though our schools are always under attack, the number of our schools continue to increase, this signifies that we are resolutely stronger on our stand and we will continue to reach for our dreams),” said Lando.

SOS Mindanao convener Prof. Mae Ancheta-Templa said these reactions show that the attacks on schools and communities by the military and paramilitary groups have only taught the children how to stand up and be critical of the government’s actions on indigenous peoples.

“These students are now more resolute to defend their schools and claim their right to education,” Templa said.