IN PHOTOS: Lumad Bakwit School’s moving-up ceremony

Pau Villanueva

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IN PHOTOS: Lumad Bakwit School’s moving-up ceremony
With pride and gratitude, 30 Lumad students graduated from junior high school last March 29

MANILA, Philippines – In 2017, about 100 Lumad students, parents, and teachers mounted a Bakwit School in Metro Manila, a makeshift school for displaced indigenous children.

Bakwit is a colloquial term for evacuees. The Lumad, for instance, were forced to flee their homes following attacks – including those by state forces – on their schools and communities. 

Save Our Schools Network, the host of the Lumad Bakwit School, has been reaching out to various institutions in the metropolis in the past few years to help displaced children continue their studies and to amplify the Lumad tribes’ rallying call for education, ancestral lands, and self-determination, all of which are constitutional rights.

FINAL CRY. The Lumad children’s battle cry: End martial law, serve the people. Photo by Pau Villanueva/Rappler

Photo by Pau Villanueva/Rappler

COOPERATION. UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan and Save Our Schools Network sign a manifesto of solidarity. Photo by Pau Villanueva/Rappler

The Lumad Bakwit School Moving Up ceremony last March 29, 2019 is a testament to the significance of the Lumad struggle. Despite the destruction brought by Martial Law in Mindanao, 30 Lumad students successfully graduated from junior high school.

Photo by Pau Villanueva/Rappler


The Lumad evacuee children were forced to continue their studies in the absence of their families and communities. Instead, even in the alienating and bustling cityscape, they find solace in relationships made with supporting institutions and volunteering advocates.


FAMILY. Lumad students entered the auditorium with their parents. Photo by Pau Villanueva/Rappler


Photo by Pau Villanueva/Rappler


During the event, supporters belonging to various institutions from academic to religious stood as the parents of the students. The Lumad students were more than happy to have people such as UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan and Bayan Muna president Satur Ocampo give them their certificates and medals along with an auditorium full of supporters to cheer them on on their special day.


SONG AND DANCE. Lumad children perform a thanksgiving dance and hymn for their supporters. Photo by Pau Villanueva/Rappler

ANTHEMS. Students perform their respective schools’ (Salugpongan, MISFI) anthems. Photo by Pau Villanueva/Rappler


“Sa aming paglalakbay, naging bahagi kayo ng aming buhay at ng aming tagumpay. Naiibsan ang aming pangungulila at lungkot at napapangibabawan namin ang takot dahil kasama namin kayo,” (During our graduation, we just want to say that you are all part of our lives and our success. Our fear, worry, and sadness is lessened because you are all with us), says Katkat Dalon, a Lumad Bakwit School Grade 10 graduate.


PERFORMANCE. Lumad children perform a piece by Beethoven from one of their music classes. Photo by Pau Villanueva/Rappler

‘Pinaramdam ninyo sa amin ang kahit kailan hindi pinaramdam ng Estado sa amin – ang kalingain at arugain,’ she adds.

(You made us a feel what the state never made us feel – that we need to be taken care of.) 

Photo by Pau Villanueva/Rappler

The Moving Up ceremony signifies the successes brought by the militant Lumad spirit in the form of Save Our Schools Network and ultimately, the need to stand firmly with Lumad schools.

As long as violence exists in the indigenous communities of Mindanao, the experience of having to bakwit will consume the Lumad youth’s childhoods for generations to come.

TRADITION. A ritual is held by the elders/datus of the Bakwit School. Photo by Pau Villanueva/Rappler

SUPPORT. Grade 10 student Katkat embraces an emotional Manilyn. Photo by Pau Villanueva/Rappler



Photo by Pau Villanueva/Rappler

Photo by Pau Villanueva/Rappler

The Moving Up ceremony served as the culmination of the current Lumad Bakwit School. 

It also adds to the urgency of a movement forwarding the interest of the nation’s indigenous peoples at large. –

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