“We are Filipinos, too. We should fight for one another’s rights.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – The Lumad in Mindanao is far from the National Capital Region but does this mean that people in the city should not take a stand on attacks against them?
Loring Ballado, 66, who hails from Samar does not think so. Like the Lumad, she said they too are facing looming eviction because someone is claiming the land where their homes stood.
Ballado was with her cousin Thelma Cerbido, 60, when they joined the women’s group Gabriela in welcoming the Manilakbayan, whose delegates from Mindanao, were joined by contingents from the Visayas, Bicol and Southern Tagalog region. The Lumad set foot in Pasay city in the National Capital Region on Oct. 25 and, the next day marched to Bonifacio Shrine in Manila. Along the way, they were welcomed by several groups of students, church groups, students and leaders of progressive organizations.
“It is their land so it is their right to defend it. It is their right to cultivate it just like what their ancestors did,” Ballado told Bulatlat.com.
Mao Shedong, 13, and Prince Reiniel Arias, 14, two skater boys who were at the Bonifacio Shrine when the Manilakbayan arrived, said that the people in Manila should support the Lumad.
Although what they know of the Lumad’s issues are limited, they said they sympathize with their
cause. “We are Filipinos, too. We should fight for one another’s rights,” they said.
Students from a university in Manila also joined in welcoming the Lumad. Hazel, 18, said the Lumad who are living in the far-flung areas are those who are not reached by government services and are gravely aggravated. “Now that they are helping one another by building schools for their children, the government forces are closing them down,” she said.
She said Filipinos, wherever they are, should support the Lumad’s struggle because they are the most deprived of social services.
JR Reyes, 27, meanwhile, said the people in city should support and amplify the call of the Lumad. He said Lumad are perceived to be weak and easily persuaded or deceived that is why they are prone to abuse.
He also said attacks on Lumad are destroying their culture, that is why people should unite to protect it. “If we unite and fight with them to resist land grabbing of their ancestral lands, their culture will be preserved.”
Bless Rios, 43, was on her way home when she saw the program in Chino Roces (formerly Mendiola bridge). She stopped, listened to the program and was aghast to hear about the Lumad killings. She said she heard their stories in television news, but did not hear about the killing and attacks in their schools.
She agrees that the people in Manila should also stop and listen to the Lumad’s story. Everyone should express their concern, she said, they are Filipinos too. “Filipinos help one another,” she said.
“Schools should not be destroyed. It should be given to them. Someday, if these Lumad would graduate and have work, one by one their, lives will be better and they do not have to suffer from poverty anymore,” she said.