HEADLINES

Their Bakwit story

By Diamay Klem D. Balacuit | Feature Writer

Vol. XCI No. 6

Sept. 6, 2019


Lumads — the people rich in culture and tradition yet living in terror.

Lumad is a Cebuano term for indigenous people. They are a group of people that comprises 14 to 17 million of the Filipino population. Most of them belong to 110 ethnolinguistic groups where the majority of them are found in Mindanao.

“Born of the Earth” is the meaning of the word “Lumad.” The said meaning created a picture of what their lives all about — living in simple huts, tilling lands, cultivating plants, and protecting nature. They don’t have all of the materials the common people have. They only have ancestral domains — the only thing that can help them live in this world.

It is an inheritance thing

Ancestral domain is a term named for lands, territories, and resources owned by the indigenous people through ancestry. It does not only indicate lands and territories but this also indicates rich relationships beyond what is seen in the naked eye — which is the spiritual and cultural aspects.

Since time immemorial, they already have these ancestral domains. Their forefathers gave them to them and they are tasked to protect them at all costs.

Most of their ancestral domains are found in the countryside. They live their lives, away from a world where everything is not free to live. They live their lives in consonance with nature — where everything is free.

The spiritual and cultural aspects that they have also show how rich they are. Colorful dances and clothing, solemn rituals and activities, and gracious manners are all evident to their living.

Upside down world

Despite the richness they have, they are one of the marginalized sectors of the country. Poverty is evident in their communities and basic social services cannot be easily found in their place.

One of the basic social services that Lumads do not have is education. It is stated in the 1987 Philippine Constitution that every Filipino has the right to have education. Hence, they also have this right. In order to address this need, along with initiative, alternative schools were created. The schools that were made have a curriculum that is in line with their needs such as learning how to read and write, and agriculture.

But most of these alternative schools, which address their education, are now closed. Closure of these schools was done to address the insurgency by the rebels.

Insurgency and military warfare against rebels in the mountainous areas caused their world to turn upside down. From having a rich domain of culture and tradition, they are now facing the world with poverty and deprived rights, not just deprived of education but also of other basic human rights.

Their right, their fight

The continuing conflicts in mountainous areas resulted for them to “bakwit,” a Cebuano term for “evacuate,” to plains. The said move is a way for them to stay away from these conflicts.

Their schools that were once treasured are now empty halls – with deafening silence in every corner. The community that was once full of happiness and laughter is now an empty place, with no trace of any of them. Instead, these places are now are occupied by military and rebels.

Insurgency in mountainous areas is just one of the problems that they have aside from the other oppressions they suffer. It brought to them terror. It impeded their task to protect their ancestral domains and the rights they have. Yet, they are still hopeful that these things will come to an end.

As they bakwit away from any oppression they have experienced in their ancestral domains, the fight for their rights did not stop them. Instead, they continue to voice out so that such pleas will reach to everyone — to hear their stories of being terrorized, hoping that we lend our helping hands to them. 

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