A Fulfilled Promise: Lumads Graduate from School Harassed by Military

“My sincere thanks to those who helped us during the evacuation and for the partners who are never discouraged in supporting this school. We as parents and members of the organization are also given knowledge and skills in sustainable agriculture, whcih we can use to cultivate our ancestral land.” MAPASU chairperson Jalandoni Campos said.

After the graduation program, a turn-over ceremony for the new function hall building funded by New World followed.

During the customary solidarity night. Ontong Belandres, a Lumad who was elected member of the village council in San Miguel and also a member of the Lumad organization was asked for words of inspiration. The crowd was surprised to see him on stage wearing his Kagawad uniform, one foot barefooted and the other with a shoe.

“Are you wondering about my attire?” he asked in Manobo.

“This is me functioning as a Kagawad official to our barangay. I have difficulty in fulfilling my responsibilities and enduring seminars and meetings I attend. I only finished grade three and my education is limited. Like my attire now, it feels awkward and vulnerable if we Lumads are not educated,” he said.

One of the English teachers remembered a Year One student who once shared a learning expectation in one class. The student expressed that he wanted to learn how to read and understand English. The student recounted that every time the village council held its session, he trembles. He was always asked by the council members to read and explain documents written in English. He knows leaders are proud of him and was the only one who got into high school in their village. The teacher realized that Belandres was the father of that Year One student.

Since the colonial period, the Lumads have been mistreated and relegated to the periphery of mainstream Philippine society. They have been systematically deprived of their rights to self-determination. Without education, the Lumads will continue to be sidelined. Now that ALCADEV is providing the Lumads of Caraga an education that is responding to their needs and suited to their culture, a better future for the Lumads is being sown in the hinterlands of Surigao del Sur. (Bulatlat.com)

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