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)

Fil-Am health workers hold clinic for Manobo evacuees

Filipino American health workers and volunteers here in an international solidarity mission held a medical clinic for the Manobo evacuees last August 2.

The volunteers are from the groups Fil-Am Healthcare Workers Association (FAWA) and the Kapit Bisig Kabataan Network based in California, who are part of the week long international solidarity mission organized by SOS Network and other cause-oriented groups helping the indigenous peoples’ rights.

One of the Fil-Am volunteers is Marietta Braganza, who work as a critical care nurse in California for 33 years. This is her third visit with the mission to the indigenous communities in Davao, but she observed this mission is different.

Her previous health missions were in the indigenous communities, but this time around the mission is in a church shelter at UCCP Haran, as some 680 Manobo people from Talaingod and Kapalong, Davao del Norte and Bukidnon sought refuge after soldiers and paramilitary occupied their villages.

Braganza noted that the stressful conditions in an unnatural environment such as the evacuation shelter contributed to the ailments among IP children and adults, as she reported many lumads suffering from upper-respiratory infection, urinary tract infections and pneumonia.

“I can’t imagine what their worries are from the day to day basis and worrying about what’s going on in their community,” she said.

Braganza and her group echoed the calls to the Philippine government to resolve the problem of the Manobo evacuees such as the pullout of troops and paramilitary in their villages so that the Manobo people can return and resume their farming and schooling activities.

The mission is organized by the  North America-Philippines Solidarity Affair (NAPSA), Initiatives for Peace in Mindanao (InPeace Mindanao), Panalipdan! Youth (Youth for the Environment, Patrimony and Creation), Kabataang Mindanao Resource Center, Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao (Kalumaran), Father Pops Tentorio Foundation, Salugpongan International and Save Our Schools Network (SOS).

(photo courtesy of Fr. Pops Foundation)