Mindanao and Fil-Am youth march for International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

(photo from davaotoday.com)

In observance of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on March 8, youth leaders from cities in Mindanao and a group of Fil-Am missioners held a torch parade in Davao City to show the youth’s solidarity with the indigenous peoples in Mindanao.

The parade signals the start of the youth’s environment summit of around 300 youth leaders called Pangiya Ki! (Shout Out) held from August 8 to 10 at Homitori Inn.

Participants held a torch march around the city and then lighted candles and linked arms circling on a dove-art installation.

Fritz Vegas, convener of the Summit, explained the significance of the linking of arms

The Filipino tradition of the ‘kapit-bisig’ (linking of arms) signifies the youth’s collectively solidarity around the world in bringing a decisive action to defend Mindanao’s environment from plunder and militarization,” Vegas said.

The summit culminated with the formation of the youth alliance Sinubaden to push for the protection of the environment and indigenous communities from mining plunder and militarization.

The spearheading organizations are Panalipdan! Youth, Kabataang Mindanao Resource Center, Kalumaran, Salugpongan International and Save our School’s Network together with regional host organizations, Rise for Education alliance in Southern Mindanao, Youth for Peace-CARAGA, Panalipdan Youth-SOCSKARGENDS, Youth Alliance for Peace-Northern Mindanao and Panalipdan Youth-Zamboanga Peninsula. Observers for the summit were members of North America-Philippines Solidarity Affair (NAPSA) and Kapit-Bisig Kabataan Network (KBKN).

Fil-Ams integrate in Manobo communities

Members of a Filipino-American youth organization arrived in the Philippines for a three-week solidarity mission in disaster-stricken communities including the community of Talaingod, Davao del Norte.

The Kapit-Bisig Kabataan Network (KBKN) sent 24 volunteers starting July 21 and had a team of volunteers integrating in Sitio Dulyan and Pagsangan in Talaingod from August 5 to 7.

One of the missioners, Jeremy Alvarado de Nieva, a school teacher in California, told online news group Davao Today about their experience in Talaingod, where they witnessed the Manobo schoolchildren being “passionate to get education despite threats in their community.”

The schoolchildren’s communities in Talaingod have been disturbed since last year by military occupations and recruitment drives to paramilitary groups such as Alamara. Some 700 Manobo individuals and children have evacuated to Davao City out of fear of the armed troops.

De Nieva noted this case of militarization as well as other insufficient government services and plunder of ancestral lands trough large-scale mining are “pressing issues (which) demands immediate action from the government.” (read more of De Nieva’s interview and activity here)

De Nieva said their group the KBKN will carry these issues to the rest of the Fil-Am and other communities in the US to support the plight of the indigenous schoolchildren.

(photos courtesy of Salugpongan International)