Taking roots again

One of Indigenous Peoples (IPs) in Mindanao are the Manobo Pulangion of Bukidnon. They, just like their fellow Lumads, have survived the discrimination, persecution, and genocidal campaigns systemically launched against them throughout the centuries.  The Pulangion families under the Tribal Indigenous Oppressed Group Association or TINDOGA have only reclaimed a piece of their territories in 2014 after years of struggle against government institutions intrinsically biased for the moneyed big landowners who robbed the IPs of their lands.

In an effort to support TINDOGA reestablish themselves on their lands, the ‘Project New Genesis’ (PNG) has supported several activities of the community. The PNG is implemented by the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines – Northern Mindanao Region (RMP-NMR) Inc with support from the Catholic Mission Australia.

Bridging school

“I am glad that most of our children are back in formal school,” said Irene Anglao, the school teacher of a recently opened bridging school for the Manobo Pulangion of the TINDOGA community in Botong, Quezon, Bukidnon.

Irene, 22, is the daughter of Lumad leader, Renato Anglao who was slain by suspected hired goons of a local landlord. A volunteer teacher of the LitNum (Literary-Numeracy) school of RMP-NMR, she went back home to Quezon, Bukidnon after the death of her father in February this year.

In the said school, children were taught the basic academic lessons on the Sciences, Mathematics, and English. The modules were a mixture of the Department of Education’s Alternative Learning System and the educational framework used in RMP-NMR’s LitNum schools. They were later re-enrolled in the nearby public schools on June.

The PNG also supported the miscellaneous fees of these children. Such addresses the problem that most of the Lumad families in this community are not afford to pay school fees because their source of income rely on seasonal farming of crops, most of these for their own consumption.

Food sustainability

The project has also provided facilities to grow livestock such as pigs, goats, and chicken to augment the income of the TINDOGA families who gets extra income from work as farm laborers. In the previous months, the Manobo Pulangion were taught how to maintain a piggery with 10 livestocks. By the time of harvest, majority of the pigs were sold, while four were shared equally per family who resides in the community consistent to the Lumad’s value of communal sharing.

Datu Andong, the head of the community, can tell the difference between their life before and after the projects of CMA: “Sa una, wala mi mga kahibalo bahin sa mga pagpadako og baboy kay sa among naandan, ginahikot ra namo ang usa ka baboy sa likod sa balay.” (Before these projects, we do not know how to grow livestock of that number. We used to raise just one pig at a time in our backyards.)

Many of the families have also benefitted from the rice and corn farms and community vegetable gardens—now yielding and ensuring food for their tables and an additional income. The PNG provided the community the seedlings and disc plow to enhance production.

A search for justice and peace

When asked how important their land is for them, Bae Jocelyn said, “Kining among yuta, subay sa among kultura ug sigon sa among namat-an, diri nakasalalay among kinabuhi. Mao kini among botika, among hardware, among balay, among pagkaon, among merkado.” (Based on our culture and on what has been passed to us, this land is our life. This is our drugstore, our hardware, our home, our food, our market.)

The reestablishment of TINDOGA back in their lands had been a struggle drenched in blood. But throughout the years, they had stood firm that they reclaimed their lands to cultivate it, develop it not only for themselves but for their future generations.

“Ang development para sa amo, mao ang makapuyo nga malinawon sa among kaugalingong yuta,” (Development for us, is being able to freely till out own lands in peace.), says Irene Anglao. While their family continues to seek for justice for the death of her father, they are still glad that his fight had not been in vain as their definition of their development is now recognized and respected.

Their resolution remains, motivated by the continuing support for their community: they will fight to defend the earth, fight to defend their land, their only territory.###