Journey of national minority depicted in first-ever literary folio

(Photo by Karen Ann Macalalad/Bulatlat)
(Photo by Karen Ann Macalalad/Bulatlat)

The two-week Manila campaign of struggling Moro and indigenous peoples has inspired a 108-page literary folio.

By KAREN ANN MACALALAD
Bulatlat

MANILA – The evening was cold on Nov. 4, but the voices which sang and spoke of the plight of the national minorities warmed the atmosphere of a special event: the launch of the first-ever literary folio for the Moros and indigenous groups.

The book entitled Sandugo: Kampuhan sa Diliman 2016 Literary Folio (Sandugo: People’s camp in Diliman 2016 Literary Folio) is a collective effort of national minority advocates and literary writers, along with the newly-formed Sandugo alliance, or the Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination.

The folio, launched at the College of Mass Communication of the University of Philippine Diliman, was a fitting tribute to the 3,000-strong protest caravan Lakbayan (caravan) of the National Minority for Self-Determination and Just Peace, which UP Diliman hosted from Oct. 12 to 27 in the Kampuhan sa Diliman.

The state university also hosted the launching of the Sandugo alliance, which aimed to unify the struggle of Moro and indigenous peoples for their right to self-determination and defense of their ancestral lands, for which the Lakbayan journeyed to Metro Manila from different regions.

“The folio is a concrete manifestation of the continuing support of the Filipinos [and writers] who recognize the struggle of our national minorities,” said Piya Macliing Malayao, secretary-general of Katribu and convenor of Sandugo.

The 108-page literary folio is only one of the projects intended for 2016 as part of the cultural exchange and research of the national minority communities.

During the launch, KM 64 writers Mitch Anadia, Billy Ibarra, Aya Quintal and Noemelyn Vecina were among those who read their contributed poems for the folio. KM 64, which stands for Kilometer 64, is an organization of writers drawing inspiration from the progressive group Kabataang Makabayan formed in 1964.

Members of the writers'group Kilometer 64 receive a copy of the Sandugo Literary Folio during its launch on November 4. (Photo by Karen Ann Macalalad/Bulatlat)
Members of the writers’group Kilometer 64 receive a copy of the Sandugo Literary Folio during its launch on November 4. (Photo by Karen Ann Macalalad/Bulatlat)

In an interview with Bulatlat, they shared how their discussions with the Subanen, Moro and Lumad during the Kampuhan fueled their writing process. Twenty-two-year old Anadia recalled that most of the stories they heard were narratives of discrimination and displacement caused by land-grabbing, militarization and foreign mining operations.

“We cannot write poems about society without proper knowledge. You can defend the truthfulness of what you write if you have reference to real-life experiences,” Anadia said. Her poem entitled Ang Tunay na Kulay draws in symbolic images for colors blue, red, white and gold, referring to the experience of the national minorities before and after the so-called elite conquered their ancestral lands.

Vecina, 22, saw the importance of poems as a medium to bring the struggle of the marginalized sectors closer to their readers, while Ibarra, 28, said their poems in KM64 were intended to depict inequalities and serve as reminder to horrors, such as Martial Law and Hacienda Luisita Massacre.

Recognizing the importance of culture and art in the awakening of the national consciousness, 32-year old Quintal invited every writer to join their cause, to unite with the marginalized and learn about their problems and other issues of the people. This was also the ending lines of his poem Magbabago pa kaya ang Bayan ko, which calls for an end to sorrowful narratives of the national minorities.

Other than KM 64, writers’ group Kataga, students from UP Diliman, advocates and Lakbayanis themselves contributed in the folio. Some poems were also written in Cebuano and Iloko languages, such as Say-ang Ti Umili and Ang Gisulti sa Kada Dugo.

While the Kampuhan and Lakbayan 2016 have already ended weeks ago, UP Professor Gerry Lanuza of Save Our School Network-UP Diliman believed that the real lakbayan has just begun.

“The national minorities have yet to attain social justice and end militarization in their communities,” he said.

Click here to read the online copy of Sandugo: Kampuhan sa Diliman 2016 Literary Folio.

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