STANDPOINT: Extraordinary selfless farmers deserve justice

Mar. 07, 2017

By Rius Valle

Stories of farmers being killed or massacred because of their struggle for land has been happening over and over, like the Kidapawan carnage or the Hacienda Luisita massacre in 2004.

What is sad is how lives of the people who nurture us have to be sacrificed over this feudal oppression.

I’ve been thinking about how horribly sad, yet amaze I am to learn on the life of farmer couple Ramon and Leonila Pesadilla who were killed in their house at night in Compostela, Compoostela Valley last March 2.

I am amazed that unlike landlords like the Cojuangcos, these poor farmer couple gave a portion of their meager land to the Salugpungan Learning Center so that they can build a school for their community.

“It wasn’t a surprise” says the family and neighbors in Barangay Osmeña who have witnessed their generosity.

Neighbors will say that the couple were so generous that whenever they would ask for a bit of rice, they would not hesitate to share what little they have. “Bahinon lang nato ni (Lets just share this),” says good old Leonila Pesadilla as they remember her kind and unselfish personality.

The teachers and administrators of the Salugpongan school remember that even after donating a parcel of their land, the couple always offered kamote to the school teachers and staff, and even invited them to sleep at their house in Barangay Ngan.

They may not be Lumads, but their heart is one and supportive for the young Lumads in their community who long for education.

Old as they are at ages 55 and 59, Leonila and Ramon joined the struggle of the communities against the destructive large-scale mining operations of Agusan Petroleum and Mineral Corp (Agpet) which is an affiliate of the Cojuangcos.

They would be seen in camp-in protests preparing food and distributing them to fellow farmers.

It is dreadful that in land disputes involving the Cojuangcos, blood would be spilled.

The Pesadillas couple, and other farmers and lumads who died recently, such as their former spokesperson the late Jimmy Saypan, have given so much for the people and for the environment.

Only those who have little know what it means to have nothing. And that is the spring of their extraordinary selflessness.

Generosity is an understatement. They are indeed extraordinarily selfless.

* About the author: Rius Valle is the spokesperson for the Save Our Schools Network.

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