Decoding the Context

The false promises of (state) capitalism are haunting us. Promises like inclusive growth and political development have been fueling the attacks against the Lumad and other marginalized sectors in the country.

Allow me to explore the formation of the Lumad’s culture of resistance against the euphemisms of capitalism as put forward by its staunch defender, the State. Such resistance is pivotal in the discourse of counter-hegemonic and democratic participation because it enables us to re-channel our notion of indigenous from merely seeing the Lumad as a depressed marginalized sector to realizing their potential to raise a collective voice against injustices and impunity.

To date, the record of Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamayang Pilipino (KAMP) shows 57 out of the 71 indigenous peoples killed under the current Aquino regime are Lumads of Mindanao.

The killings were attributed to state-backed mining and logging operations and tenacious deployment of military troops in the Land of Promise. Over 500,000 hectares of mining domains cover the ancestral lands of various indigenous groups, while the 700,000 hectare-land plantations of bananas, pineapples and other agricultural products are owned and operated by multinational corporations (Bulatlat.com).

In terms of military presence, 56 percent of the Armed Forces of the Philippines troops, alongside paramilitary groups like Alamara, Magahat and Bagani forces are deployed in Mindanao to quell critical voices against the corporate operations of multinational mining and plantation companies. And lest we forget, the Oplan Bayanihan counter-insurgency program of the Aquino regime paves way for the military attacks in schools and ancestral lands of the Lumad.

According to the organizers of Manilakbayan 2015, 87 indigenous Lumad schools were inflicted with military attacks, 233 cases of human rights violations against Lumad children were recorded, and, over 40,000 Lumad were forcibly displaced due to militarization. The killing of Emerito Samarca, a Lumad teacher-volunteer and Executive Director of Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), and Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Bello Sinzo on September 1, 2015, proved the fathomless disregard of the State of the fundamental rights and welfare of the Lumad.

The pestilent impact of capitalism on Lumad communities is a reiteration of the State’s deliberate neglect of its peoples’ democratic rights. The income generated from multinational mining and logging firms, for one, does not contribute to the economic, political and cultural development of the Lumad. Consider this scenario: the mining industry only contributed 0.04% of total employment in 1997-2014 and 0.7% of gross domestic product in 1998-2014 (IBON Foundation). Instead, the State through its military and legal apparatuses impose hegemonic rule over the ancestral lands of the Lumad and other ethnolinguistic groups in Mindanao.

The State in collusion with its mining capitalist-conspirators deploys military and paramilitary forces to ensure elitist economic gains from mining and mineral explorations. As a result of militarization, the Lumad had to be displaced from their ancestral lands. And born out of this is the formation of culture of resistance.

Inspired by Gramscian hegemony and resistance, the Lumad’s culture of resistance is an ideological practice that foregrounds the historical and political complexity of the Lumad struggle, and, has two determinants of mobilization. First is the internal front or the mobilization among the ranks of the indigenous peoples and mass-based organizations, and, second, the public front or the mobilization of alliances from external communities or those outside the Lumad communities and Mindanao. The disposition of alliances is sourced from various sectors of mass-based and peoples’ organizations, political partylists, schools, community media, the arts, and churches.

Each of these sector has its prior sets of actions to address the plight of the Lumad. But to confront the hegemonic rule of the State, they ventured into a collaborative resistance to amplify the sectors’ economic and political positions. Ergo, the longstanding sectoral resistance has now reached a collective level of resistance for the Lumad.

One concrete way to visualize these components of a functioning culture of resistance is to look back at the Manilakbayan 2015, an annual people’s campaign against militarization, plunder and killings in Mindanao that aims to engage the public especially those in the National Capital Region in the advancement for justice, cultural preservation and political struggle of the Lumad.

The Lumad themselves together with the members of community-based organizations like Save Our Schools (SOS) Network, the Pasaka Confederation of Lumad Organizations and Salugpongan International traversed the enduring roads of Mindanao to the country’s capital to communicate their resistance against the ruling oppression and economic greed brought by the State and its capitalist-plunderer allies.

They employed a series of campaign activities in different platforms e.g., schools, universities, churches, government offices, and in the streets to educate the public of the sorry state of Mindanao and Lumad communities. In a scanty, yet emancipating encounter with the Lumad during their stay at the University of the Philippines Diliman grounds at the Kampuhan sa UPD in October 2015, my students in Journalism and I (and I surmise all of us who visited the Kampuhan) discerned the message that they have been trying to send the public – that they need us and we equally need them.

In fact, it was no less than the University Chancellor Michael Tan who repeatedly asserted that ang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas ay Unibersidad ng mga Lumad (the University of the Philippines is the University of the Lumad). The Kampuhan thus served as a political arena where discursive strategies from various sectors, including the aforementioned ones, have converged. Using the power of the media and the arts at the Kampuhan, for one, various music videos and documentary reports were collaboratively produced by music artists, academics, human rights workers, alternative media workers, students and volunteers to effect political consciousness to the youth and the public in general.

These politically-inspired sets of practices as participated by a number of sectoral and even individual forces resulted in the realization of a working culture of resistance. We all need to escalate such efforts as the attacks against the cultural domains of the Lumad and peoples of Mindanao remain evident, as in the recent mass killing and harassment of the Lumad and farmers in Kidapawan, North Cotabato where at least 3 were killed, 116 wounded, 89 missing, and 2 tortured according to the April 1 report of the Solidarity Action Group for Indigenous People and Peasants (SAGIPP) in Mindanao.

We must continue to believe that there is a better system ahead of us. If we truly deserve a better society, we must struggle for the Lumad as we are all natives of this land.

 

Jeff Ragragio earned his MA in Communication (Communication Research) from UP Diliman and is currently an Assistant Professor and Program Coordinator of Journalism of Kalayaan College.

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