“It is what encouraged me [to join Kabataan Partylist], that I don’t have to be within the four walls of the Church to serve. I was also taught the importance of reaching out to the poor because Christ’s mission was and will always be for the oppressed.”
By DAWN CECILIA PEÑA
MANILA — For Angelica Galimba, being a Christian means that it’s always her mission to reach out to the poor and the oppressed. And this mission, she said, expands beyond the four walls of the Church.
Last month, Galimba, or Angel to her friends, filed her certificate of nomination and acceptance as second nominee to youth party-list Kabataan as she hopes to put to the fore the voice of the indigenous peoples in honor of her Kalinga roots and the struggle of many tribal communities for their right to life and ancestral domain.
“It is what encouraged me [to join Kabataan Partylist], that I don’t have to be within the four walls of the Church to serve. I was also taught the importance of reaching out to the poor because Christ’s mission was and will always be for the oppressed,” she told Bulatlat in an interview.
Galimba, who had spent most of her life in Manila, is a child of a mother from the Visayas and an Ilocano father. Growing up, she did not know of people’s organizations. That is until her Church’s ecumenical programs pushed her to retrace her roots in Ilocos Norte and eventually join Kabataan Partylist.
“It opened my eyes and made me realize that I can go home, help, and campaign for mass leaders, organizers, and labor workers. I said, why not go back to serve our region better?” she said.
Advocate for indigenous peoples
When she knew of her Kalinga roots through her grandmother, Galimba decided to take part in the campaigns for them. This eventually left her gravitating towards Kabataan Partylist.
Here she realized that in their campaigns for quality and accessible education such as the safe return of face-to-face classes, more has to be done for the Filipino youth in many indigenous communities as they are facing more difficult situations.
Galimba noted that there are hardly any schools for many tribal communities. This neglect, she added, is a form of repression. On the other hand, schools that were put up by communities themselves are being red-tagged and even forcibly shut down.
While there are specific government agencies like the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Galimba said they have not been helpful and are even the ones “to blame for the violation of their rights in the community.”
“The indigenous people have always been called ‘the stewards of the environment,’ so that includes the promotion of their rights to self-determination to further enable them to protect their ancestral lands,” she added.
End to internal displacements
When asked about her vision of a better future, Galimba said she would want to see the rights to ancestral domains of indigenous peoples to be upheld, and to stop internal displacements as their communities become more and more militarized.
Under President Duterte, Karapatan documented 74 extrajudicial killings of indigenous peoples while nearly 500,000 have been subjected to forced evacuation. The latter includes the number of Moro people who were forcibly evacuated during the Marawi siege and those affected by the bombings of tribal communities in Mindanao, Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay told Bulatlat.
In recent years, the Duterte administration had been in hot water for the attacks against the indigenous peoples, including his public threat to bomb Lumad schools and the recent harassment of Lumad leader Bai Bibyaon Ligkayan Bigkay and her relatives in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.
“How can we trust this kind of national government or government agency to lead the indigenous people, if they themselves are the first to violate the rights of these communities? When they are selling ancestral lands, they go out of their way to reverse petitions filed by community elders aiming to preserve their territories,” Galimba lamented.
The 2022 elections, while still her first foray into politics, provide hope for Galimba that she can somehow uplift the living conditions of her fellow indigenous people through collective action and active participation.
“Knowing the status quo, how can we not run for office? When the people authorized to protect their interests are those who betray them? That was the biggest factor in my decision, to further strengthen the campaign and provide genuine representation for the youth and the indigenous peoples,” Galimba ended. (JJE, RVO)