There’s no denying the fact that for a long period the Lumad peoples in the hinterlands were in a state of passivity or apparent apathy in the midst of the misfortunes that have befallen them as a forsaken segment of the Philippine body politic. Their downtrodden situation had been taken advantage of by unscrupulous politicians who utilized their cultural uniqueness as tourist attractions for their own selfish ends. Unconscionable capitalist lowlanders also made use of their various artisanal wares for profiteering ventures.
Most vicious of all is the incursions of foreign capitalists into their areas with license from the government itself. And these are not ordinary or average-size capitalists, but giant monopoly-capitalist corporations whose very interests are to extract the mineral resources from the Lumad lands. What higher valuable materials could they have eyed and desired to reap, but the mineral ores that abound in the bowels of mountains—precious ores ranging from gold and silver to copper and nickel to chromite and a lot, lot more.
And this state of affairs has been obtaining since the birth of the Philippine Republic that installed a puppet President who chose to privilege the US imperialists in exploiting our patrimony than the Filipino citizens. Indeed, because of the Parity Amendment appended to the Philippine Constitution, the unbridled entry of giant foreign corporations into our country became an unquestionable normal occurrence. By such arrangement our lands have since been a source of raw materials and a dumping ground of finished products from American factories.
But it so happens that these boundless mineral resources are in the ancestral domain of the Lumad people who, for the all the injustice of this anomalous phenomenon, could have wished they could partake of even a morsel out of the piles and piles of profits reaped by these foreign capitalists. But nothing! For after all it is the Philippine government itself that spearheaded and allowed unhindered this unjust arrangement to obtain during all these years.
But time is like a nest that silently incubates the political consciousness of the Lumad people. Realizing the great injustice and iniquity of it all. It dawned on them that something is patently wrong in the obtaining situation. Their ancestral lands have been divested of inestimable treasures, even the natural endowments of Mother Nature defiled and left their life worlds destroyed, and here they are who have remained deprived of the bounties in their ancestral lands! Thus, have they awakened to the need for standing up in the way of the iniquitous situation. . .
If they have been aided by anti-government groups like the NPA in having discovered the truth and their latent power as a political force so long hidden from their awareness, such is a welcome happenstance for the shaping of their empowerment. The liberative consciousness molded into a force of resistance against the forces that have exploited and oppressed them is in itself a liberating wakefulness. Indeed, their miserable condition served as a fertile soil for the revolutionary ideal to have blossomed robust and beautiful in the Lumadlandia.
This phenomenon of an empowered people who have risen from passivity and apathy to a boundless force of revolutionary resistance against the forces of fascist violence by the State is now a source of inspiration of all hitherto exploited and oppressed classes and sectors of society as well as all the progressive elements in the national liberation engagement against US imperialism and its puppet regime. At the same time it has threatened the ruling classes and all the reactionary elements that have since propped up the puppet regime of President Noynoy Aquino. And what does it rely on but its fascist instrument—the State armed security forces which have been forthwith deployed in their greatest number to the Lumadlands in Mindanao as veritable “Sekyu” of the foreign plunderers.
Here happens the inevitable collision of interests between the military that protects the foreign mining corporations and the Lumad peoples who oppose and resist the plunder of their ancestral lands. And here happen the vile abuses and rampant violations of the human rights of the Lumad people by the AFP troops of the government. Harrassments, kidnappings, tortures, and killings of the leaders of people’s organizations, rape of the womenfolk, are a continuing string of satanic deeds by the government soldiers and the paramilitary units they organized as a desperate “divide-and-rule” tactic to disparage the people’s resolve to fight. Yes, all conceivable means of deviltry are employed by the State to weaken the Lumad people’s resistance.
But the ideal of revolutionary resistance that has rooted in the collective consciousness of the Lumad peoples has not flickered vis-à-vis the egregious acts of the military. Yes, the Lumad peoples, as whole village communities, have evacuated from their homes and have sought refuge in town centers and Church sanctuaries in the city as a form of protest. And they have launched creative forms of mass protest actions to air their grievances to the public and embarrass the insensitive people at the helm of State power.
The Manilakbayan was a unique protest action that reaped tremendous expressions of sympathy and support from various sectors of society in the entire country. Every place that the 700 and more Lumads passed by in their protest trek all the way from Mindanao to Manila met them with cheers and chants of solidarity. The exercise caught the attention of people not only within the country, but also of foreign individuals and groups in the international scene.
In fine the empowerment of the Lumad peoples emerged as an ideological formation among popular forces in response to the Aquino government’s fascist terror in enforcing its Oplan Bayanihan Program in the countryside. Once again, it has proved the truism that “wherever there is oppression and exploitation, there is always people’s resistance”.