Lumads open ‘identity museum’ in Baclaran

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Items currently on display at the Museo Lumad. (Photo: Raymond A. Sebastián)

PARAÑAQUE City, Nov. 20, 2015 – Lumads encamped in the compound of the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Baclaran for over a week now have taken to building a “tent museum” just outside the Marian shrine in a bid to show other Filipinos the heritage next generations risk losing if persecutions against the country’s indigenous peoples (IP) continue.

“We Lumads ourselves initiated, conceptualized, and manage this museum. This means that this is the story of our peoples,” they say in a collective statement, stressing that its perspective is neither that of the state nor of what they refer to as the “semi-colonial and semi-feudal culture.”

Museo Lumad

Called “Museo Lumad,” the exhibit features items the various native tribes of Southern Philippines commonly use like ethnic garments, accessories, household utensils, musical instruments, and bags, among many others, that attest to their own unique cultures.

In a leaflet they distributed, the Lumads point out that their makeshift museum differs from mainstream academic ones that display Lumad images and objects as “pretty relics,” but are disassociated from the strengthening of their mass movement.

According to them, the Museo Lumad bares two sides of the prevailing situation in society.

‘Living museum’

They explain: “It shows the good aspects of our culture which we need to develop, especially our communal traditions and principles. But it also shows what have been destructive to our nature, and what has been negative in our practices.”

The Lumads go on to call the mini exhibit a “living museum” in that it tells of their heroic movement against ethnocide as well as the struggle for the defence of their ancestral lands.

“This museum strengthens our unity and involvement with the majority of the Filipinos who are oppressed and are also struggling for national sovereignty because the history of the Filipino people is tightly connected with the history of the Lumad peoples,” they add.

Vulnerable IPs

The Lumad Development Center Inc. (LDCI) notes that what is ordinarily and collectively known as “Katawhang Lumad” actually consists of 18 different but related ethnic groups scattered across the 19 provinces of Mindanao.

Viewed as “vulnerable groups,” they live mainly in hinterlands, forests, lowlands, and coastal areas and are generally neither Islamized nor Christianized.

For their part, the Lumads fault the erosion of their cultures to the “national oppression of indigenous peoples,” which they claim is based on the usurpation of our ancestral lands, institutionalized discrimination, and state violence against their people through the years.

Open to public

“As indigenous peoples, we need to face the problem of our fading cultures. This museum is one way to strengthen our fight to defend our ancestral lands,” they say.

The public is encouraged to visit the Museo Lumad located near the newly-built Carillon bell tower of the Baclaran shrine.

Admission is free but donations are welcome. (Raymond A. Sebastián / CBCP News)

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