By the end of the concert, it was the children themselves who performed.
By JOAN GARCIA
John Paul Undayon, 12 years old, is the youngest delegate of the Lumad Manilakbayan. A grade 7 student of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), John Paul is one of the 700-strong contingent of the Lumad coming from Southern Mindanao. The Lumad travelled all the way to Metro Manila to show their plight in the Philippines’ capital city.
On October 28, John Paul, together with 13-year old Gleeza Joy Belandres and some of their schoolmates, were able to watch performances that were aimed at raising funds for them. Entitled as Ka-Loob, Konsert para sa Kabataang Lumad, the event was headed by the University of the Philippines College of Music Student Council and the UP Tugtugang Musika Asyatika.
The concert was well-attended, with audiences standing at the back and side aisles of the UP Asian Center, GT Toyota Auditorium.
The performers, mostly students and alumni of the College of Music, agreed to waive their professional fees so that all of the proceeds go to the Lumad children. The artists for the 3-hour event were Triple Fret, UP Guitar Orchestra, UP Tugma, Anahata, UP Dance Company, and Baihana.
According to John Paul, while he loved all of the performances, it was Anahata that he liked most. John Paul said the vocalist had a beautiful voice. Gleeza could not pinpoint one group as she said all of the performances were good.
By the end of the concert, it was the children themselves who performed. Called the Lumadnong Teatro, the children showed how their happy life at the school is now tainted by the killings of ALCADEV Executive Director and school principal Emerito Samarca and MAPASU chairman Dionel Campos and another Lumad leader.
Both John Paul and Gleeza were present when the killings happened.
According to Gleeza, they were awakened at their dorms by the paramilitary on the early morning of September 1 and were ordered to go out of their rooms. They went to Samarca’s room and asked him to go with them. While the paramilitary was ushering them, a teacher was suddenly hit using a rifle.
Samarca refused to go out saying that they had nothing to fear.
The paramilitary ordered the students to go to the topmost part of the community. While there, they saw how Dionel was being ordered to “drop” down. By the third command, they saw Dionel being shot in his eye.
John Paul recalled that he saw how Dionel’s brains scattered from the impact of the bullet. Shocked and scared, they were only able to go near his body after the paramilitary have gone.
When they went back to their school, they saw that it was burned down as well as their cooperative.
They called for Samarca and went to his room where they saw his lifeless body.
According to Gleeza and John Paul, Samarca had torture marks, with tied hands and feet and a slit throat.
When asked if they are still scared, both children said they are now focused in fighting for their right to their own school and community.
Gleeza and John Paul also said they were given psychosocial activities while at the evacuation camp in Surigao del Sur.
Gleeza also recounted how Dionel acted before he was shot. She said Dionel told them not to run because they were not doing anything wrong. Dionel also asked them not to forget the school that their parents built. All that time, Dionel was just smiling and told them that he was happy that he would die in front of the people.
After the Manilakbayan, John Paul and Gleeza hopes to return to their homeland and school so they can continue learning their favorite subjects of history and agriculture.
According to Gleeza, they are thankful for all the help that they are receiving while at UP Diliman. “To those who are not yet with us in our fight, I hope that they join us as this is not just our fight, but everyone’s”, Gleeza said.