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Lumads perform rite to protect ancestral lands vs. devt aggression

Posted By: Chris Costuya On:


CAGAYAN DE ORO City, Dec. 2, 2010—Hundreds of leaders of various indigenous peoples (lumad) communities in at least four Mindanao provinces will perform a Pigsapaan or a ritual of pledge in Bukidnon on Sunday during which they will vow to protect their lands from plunderers backed by unjust government policies.

The Pigsapaan is a gathering of lumad datus (tribe leaders) and Lumad people’s organization in the provinces of Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur who have valiantly struggled to defend their ancestral lands against state-sponsored development aggressions.

“The solidarity pact seals our promise to commit our lives to the resistance,” said Jomorito Goaynon, chairperson of the Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization, organizer of the Pigsapaan 2010.

Goaynon, also known as Datu Inbanwag among the Higaonon nation, lamented that while Mindanao has been and is continually promoted as the land of promise, “Mindanao is ironically more popular as a land of conflict and war.”

“For years, peace efforts had been centered on the harmonious co-existence of the Bangsamoro, the Indigenous Peoples and the settlers. But contrary to the impression of many, our experience is not a war of faiths. Rather, it is an incessant battle over the richness of our lands, made distinct by the different cultures attached to it,” he stressed.

He said that since the time of the Spanish colonizers, when the “Christian” invaders tried to civilize the so-called savages of Mindanao, “the issue has always been about the control of the island’s abundant resources.”

“And as policy upon policy claimed tracks of land for the government and private companies’ disposal, the original inhabitants were driven further to the margins of their ancestral territories. For the lumads, the loss of our lands is not only felt physically. The very fabric of our traditions is interwoven with the soil we tread on. The continuing plunder of our domains threaten our cultural heritage, our very means of identity. [So] we fought back,” he said.

“But instead of giving back to us our rightful legacy, the state retaliated with brutality,” he added, citing as examples the strafing and bombing of Higaonon communities in Esperanza, Agusan del Sur on April 30, 2009 and the killing of lumad datus throughout the years which up to the present remained unresolved.

Thus, taking their future into their own hands, the lumads are finally saying “enough!” to aggression, which Goaynon said, is being systemically conducted at the bargain price of a “bogus scheme of development” paid for by the blood of the indigenous peoples of Mindanao.

Monico Cayog, also known as Datu Sapot D’ Katiti among the Bagobo people, identified some of these state-sponsored development aggressions that threatened to wipe out lumad communities in Mindanao as plantations (for banana, pineapple, palm oil, jatropha , etc.), mining, and the proposed Pulangi 5 mega dam for hydro electric power.

Thus, resolved to fight for their rights, the lumads will be performing the Pigsapaan, an activitiy that will forge unity among the lumad communities as they recognized their common experiences that consequently bonded them together in defense of their land.

The Pigsapaan 2010 will also honor the heroic lives of 12 lumad leaders who had been slain in the battles against plunder. “Their examples will continue to be the blood of our ongoing battles.” (Bong D. Fabe)


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