“What’s at stake here is the Lumad schools, the heritage, the yutang kabilin (ancestral land). The Lumad must survive.” — UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – The country’s premier state university welcomed some 700 Lumad who traveled from different parts of Mindanao to the nation’s capital.
In a press conference this afternoon, Oct. 27, UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan said it is the right of the Lumad to come to UP. “This is your university,” Tan said.
Dubbed #Manilakbayan2015, hundreds of Lumad went to Metro Manila to bring to the fore their calls to stop the killings, end the attacks on their schools, pull out military forces from their communities and disband paramilitary forces.
Under the Aquino administration, 56 Lumad have been killed. Eighty-seven indigenous Lumad schools are being subjected to various forms of attack from the military and paramilitary groups. At least 40,000 Lumad were displaced from their communities due to heavy military operations.
“What’s at stake here is the Lumad schools, the heritage, the yutang kabilin (ancestral land). The Lumad must survive,” Tan, an anthropologist, said.
Nestor Castro, UP Diliman vice chancellor for community affairs, said the administration, faculty members, students and employees as well as residents of the barangay UP Campus have pledged their support to the Lumad.
UP is hosting the Lumad for one week. The Lumad are staying at the College of Human Kinetics grounds.
UP Tacloban, UP Los Baños and UP Manila also welcomed the delegates of #Manilakbayan2015.
Castro said there were those who warned them against their decision to support the Lumad. He said they were told that communists are just using the Lumad and that they should be cautious.
“Wala kaming pakialam. Anuman ang politika, anuman ang ideolohiya, bukas ang unibersidad sa lahat,” (We don’t care. Irrespective of politics, irrespective of ideology, the university is open to all.) Castro said.
The UP official added there were critics who told them that the Lumad alternative schools are not recognized by the Department of Education (DepEd). “Ang karunungan ay nagmumula saan man. Walang may monopolyo sa edukasyon,” (Knowledge can be found anywhere. Nobody has the monopoly of education.) Castro said.
Contrary to military claims, the Lumad schools are recognized by DepEd. The Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev), for instance, received National Literacy Award in 2014.
Dino Concepcion, a professor at UP Diliman and a member of Save Our Schools (SOS) Network, said the right to basic education is not only for those in the cities but also for the Lumad. He said the Lumad alternative schools have been established because the government failed to provide education to the Lumad.
Concepcion revealed that since late 2000, Lumad schools are under attack. He said the military has branded the schools as breeding grounds of the New People’s Army (NPA) and the children are tagged as NPA members.
Concepcion called on everyone not only to extend material assistance to the Lumad but also to help raise the awareness of the public on the plight of the Lumad.
Lumad leader Jomorito Goaynon said the Lumad are tagged as NPA because of their resistance to large-scale mining, expansion of plantations and energy projects.
“We are not anti-development. What we want is respect to our right to self-determination and our right to our ancestral domain,” Goaynon said.
Learn from the Lumad
Meanwhile, National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera called on UP students to learn from the Lumad.
“It is important for us to know our link to the culture of the Lumad,” Lumbera said.
The national artist added that foreign culture reigns in urban areas. “We forget our indigenous culture. It is important to know our roots as Filipinos,” he said.
Bryle Leano of the Stop Lumad Killings network said there are two things that UP students can learn from the Lumad. First is their way of life. He said that while many think that free education is not possible, the Lumad are providing free education through their alternative schools.