After 3 months, several Lumad still cannot go home
MANILA, Philippines – On Monday morning, October 9, students confidently stood outside as they sang the national anthem with pride during the flag raising ceremony. Later, they trooped to their classrooms to start their day at school.
It was a typical scene in a school setting, but the circumstances behind it were nothing ordinary.
More than a hundred Lumad students, along with their teachers, attended class at the makeshift classroom opened for them in the University of the Philippines Diliman (UP Diliman). Their parents were camped at university.
The Lakbayanis were supposed to cap off the annual Lakbayan in late September during the commemoration of declaration of Martial Law. Some 3 months since they came to Metro Manila, however, the Lumad have still not gone home.
Most of them have no houses to go back to.
"Kahit pa no'ng July, naka gear na sana umuwi 'yong mga Lumad. Hindi makauwi 'yong mga Lumad students dahil sa threat na pag bomba ng kanilang mga schools. Kung uuwi sila, ma s-suspend din 'yong pag-aaral nila," said Save Our Schools Network Mindanao spokesperson Rius Valle.
(The Lumad were supposed to go home in July, but they couldn't go home due to the threat of bombing their schools. If they go home, their classes will be suspended.)
According to Valle, they came all the way to Manila to personally tell the president about their concerns. They hoped President Rodrigo Duterte would lift martial law in Mindanao soon. (WATCH: The love-hate relationship between Duterte and the Lumad)
"During Lakbayan, hindi humihinto 'yong pag atake. Actually after immediately ng Lakbayan, nakabalita kami sa mga Lumad communities sa North Cotabato at Compostella Valley province na may aerial bombings na nangyari," he added.
(The attacks did not stop during the Lakbayan. Immediately after Lakbayan, we heard news from Lumad communities in North Cotabato and Compostella Valley province that there were aerial bombings.)
The group also reported two teachers along with 7 community leaders were harassed by soldiers in Sarangani and South Cotabato in two separate incidents. (INFOGRAPHIC: Who are the Lumad?)
Around 300 individuals from Talaingod, Davao del Norte also evacuated their homes due to reported military and paramilitary attacks in their villages. (READ: What the Lumad are fighting for)
The 'bakwit' school that was built for the Lumad in UP Diliman was something distinct according to Valle.
The Lumad students are not the only ones who learn but also the people from Metro Manila. They aim to teach their culture to the volunteers who immerse with the children and the community.
Some education majors also visit their site in Diliman to do practice teaching with the Lumad children. The community has been very welcoming and the volunteers often have positive feedback about their experiences, especially with the children.
During the classes, the Lumad children who were at their senior high school also taught their parents about basic literacy and numbers.
A call to end martial law
"Pangunahing panawagan namin ay ang pagtigil sa martial law. Dahil pina-igting nito ang militarisasyon." (Our primary call is to stop martial law because it heightens militarization.)
Cases of attacks have heightened due to the proclamation of martial law in the region of Mindanao, says Valle.
They are calling out, asking their fellow Filipinos to help them campaign for the lifting of martial law in their areas. – with reports from Danielle Nakpil/Rappler.com