DLUMAY, Sarangani — Back in 2007, a survey revealed that the literacy rate among the six sub-villages of Upper Suyan was a mere three percent. Children had a hard time going to school because the nearest formal school, which is located in the village proper of Upper Suyan, is about two to three hours away by foot. The Blaan people endured the situation for a long time until the Center for Lumad Advocacy and Services (Clans) and the Sibol ng Agham at Teknolohiya (Sibol) came along and empowered them through a literacy program and a micro-hydro powerplant.
In 2010, however, the 73rd Infantry Batallion of the Philippine Army arrived in the Upper Suyan village, specifically in Dlumay sub-village, and started interrogating the teachers of the Blaan Literacy School and Learning Center and leaders of the community. This forced the BLSLC teachers to leave Dlumay.
In an attempt to record human rights violations in the community, Clans and all its partnered organizations organized a peace and solidarity mission. One of the highlights of the result is how the children have been affected not just by the long-standing poverty but also with militarization. (Text and photos by Janess Ann J. Ellao / Bulatlat.com)