By Amal-Ryan B. Rinabor
Davao Today Intern
DAVAO CITY – Manobo tribal children flew kites on Friday in a symbolic message to government to pull out Army troops currently doing counterinsurgency rounds in their hometown in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.
The children were among the residents of Sitio Nalubas, Bayabas, Sasu, Laslasakan, Sambolongan and Bugni of Barangay Palma Gil and Sitio Bagang and Pongpong of Barangay Dagohoy that were emptied since March 27 when both adults and school children claimed they have been the target of harassments instead, when they were asked to reveal the locations of New People’s Army guerrillas.
Although the Army has belied the claims and accused the guerrillas of scaring residents away, more than 1,350 fled and sought refuge at the Protestant-owned compound here.
Some 230 Manobo children 12 years old and under joined the symbolic flying of kites in a culmination of a psycho-social therapy workshops conducted by the Children Rehabilitation Center since April 6. The kites were flown inside a public cemetery near the Haran compound of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, where they and their families were staying in temporary and makeshift huts.
Rius Valle, advocacy officer of CRC said the Manobo children “want to return in their homes in Talaingod so they can continue with their studies going into the end of the school year. “Gusto na sila muoli kay libre didto ila pag eskwela (The Manobo children want to return home because education is free),” he said.
Ten kites were flown over overcast skies. Nine of the kites were diamond-shaped and one is shaped like a lantern. The kites are colored red, blue and white. The children only echoed the demand of their elders they earlier raised.
“Kani ang tumoy sa kadtong psychosocial first aid. Nagsugod man ni kadtong pagpagawas sa ilang gibati, pagkanta-kanta, pag dula-dula, og pag share nila sa ila mga kasinatian didto sa grabe nga militarisasyon sa kabukiran (This is the culmination of the psychosocial first aid which was facilitated to voice out their emotions through singing and games since the militarization in their area).” Valle said.
Valle said the children were grouped and assigned to complete workshops like singing, dancing, playing games and drawings to allow them to let out their experiences of trauma.
Valle told Davao Today that aside from varying degrees of traumatic experiences, the Manobo children also suffered from diarrhea, sore eyes, fever and pulmonary congestion at the UCCP compound.
Although Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said that the evacuees were not constituents of the city, he authorized, nonetheless, the city government to allocate funds for the food and health needs of the Manobo evacuees, but clarified that the amount may not be sufficient enough. (davaotoday.com)