Theme: ‘Strengthening Solidarity for Lumad Rights!’
Date: 7-9 December 2016
Site: Botong, Quezon, Bukidnon
Host Community: TINDOGA
Organizers: Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization and the ‘Higala sa Lumad’ Network
Lumad (“born of the earth”) is the Visayan term for “native” or “indigenous”. The same term has been claimed by Indigenous Peoples’ rights advocates and Lumads themselves since the late 70s to collectively refer to the non-Christian and non-Islamic Indigenous Peoples of Mindanao.
The term “Lumad” is short for “Katawhang Lumad” or Indigenous Peoples, the term officially adopted by the delegates of the Lumad Mindanao Peoples’ Federation founding assembly on 26 June 1986 in Kidapawan, North Cotabato.[i] The birth of the organization trailblazed the campaign in defending the Lumad’s rights to their ancestral domain and to self-determination. Since then, the term Lumad has been used as an expression of unity among the diverse ethno linguistic communities in Mindanao, fighting as one in the defense of their rights especially to their ancestral domains.
Over the years, Lumad leaders were recorded to have been killed by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other state agents as an attack to the unified campaign of Lumad communities against government atrocities.[ii]
Stewards of Mindanao’s remaining lands and forests, the Lumad have experienced centuries of brutal and painful history in defending their lands. They have survived a systematic policy driving them out of Mindanao where they are now a minority. Often pictured as kinky-haired individuals, they are regarded as second-class citizens, whose legitimate struggle for land and the environment fall on deaf ears, dismissed as just plain nuisance or, worse, as a mere criminal act against the state.
They suffered violence, termed the pacification of their ‘wild’ communities, so that the resources in their lands can be usurped, manipulated by political and economic interests of the past colonial rulers. They have been marginalized, their right to self-determination denied, and indigenous culture subdued. Beyond their territories, discrimination and exclusion confront them, allowing them an existence only in their diminishing ancestral lands.
2. About ‘Kahimunan sa Katungod’
‘Kahimunan Katungod’ is a human rights colloquium that will foster solidarity among Lumad leaders. The colloquium will become a venue where Datus, Baes, and Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations’ leaders can share with each other the pressing land and human rights issues their respective communities are confronting, collectively analyse their situation and draft recommendations and resolutions. The activity will encourage the communities to synergize home-base resources for important concerns such as sanctuaries for Lumad leaders or community members at-risk.
Educational and parallel events to the colloquium will be held simultaneously for support groups.
Over-all, the event’s objectives are: (a) To consolidate the ranks of IP communities in the defense of their rights versus aggressive plunder projects in Mindanao, (b) To learn from and to show support for the struggle for land of the host community, (c) For support groups to understand Lumad culture as an instrument of resistance, (c) To bring the opinion-making sectors closely to the struggle of Lumad communities.
‘Kahimunan sa Katungod’ is a component of the ‘Healing the Hurt’, an interfaith initiative combatting discrimination, human rights violations and impunity against the Lumad of Mindanao, supported by the European Union.
· Main events
o Forum on Lumad situation and rights
o Traditional leaders’ human rights colloquium
o Dialogues with authorities on issues faced by IP communities
o Cultural festivals: Traditional songs and dances, limbay and dasang
· Parallel events
o Educational discussions and workshops: On Lumad Situation, On the National Minority Question, Special Course on Lumad, On Plunder Projects in Mindanao, On Lumad and the Neo-liberal Offensives, On Militarization and Paramilitarism, On the Philippine Educational System and Attacks on Lumad Schools, On Lumad Women
o Play therapy with displaced children, arts workshop for women
4. About the host community
The Tribal Indigenous Oppressed Group Association (TINDOGA) has weathered a long struggle in their assertion to live on their ancestral land. The members are Manobo-Pulangion, the original inhabitants of Kiokong, which is now known as the municipality of Quezon.
Their experience as a community exemplifies the marginalization common to many Lumad communities. Outrightly, their families were excluded from the other titled Manobo-Pulangion ancestral domains, the world views of those groups having already altered by the capitalist demand of land for commercial purposes (i.e. cash crop plantations). The members of TINDOGA wanted to find a piece of land which they could still till to feed their families, and practice their culture and traditions that have been passed to them by their ancestors, a connection to their land which they still wish to instill in the future generations.
TINDOGA had struggled with sweat and blood literally. Many times they were peppered with bullets, one of their companions dying during one clash with the armed guards of a landlord insisting to drive them out of their land. But the community persisted. The leaders and members of TINDOGA are living testimonies to the importance of solidarity and commitment in asserting Lumad rights. It is therefore appropriate for them to host a gathering that further strengthens solidarity among Lumad communities and support organizations and individuals.
5. About the organizing groups
Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization is an alliance of indigenous organizations in northern Mindanao and araga regions working for the right to ancestral land, self-determination and access to indigenous culture.
‘Higala sa Lumad’ (Friends of the Lumad) Network is an interfaith support group in defense, and for the promotion, of Lumad rights.
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[i] Panalipdan Mindanao/Initiatives for Peace in Mindanao/Rural Missionaries of the Philippines. “Undermining Patrimony: The Large-Scale Mining Plunder in Mindanao”. November 2014.
[ii] Pacificar, Gilbert/Sanchez-Obenza, June. “Breaking Point: Defining Contradictions between Indigenous Customary Laws and State Law and Reasserting Lumad Self-Identity”. Kalumaran. 2013.