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Thursday, March 30, 2023


How Oppressed the Indigenous Peoples Are?

They were once the masters of the land that no one owned because private ownership is not in their language based on the strong belief that no one can own land which outlast him. They asked, “How can you own something that will outlast you? You cannot own the land; the land will own you.” Their ancestors passed on to them the use of the land in the spirit of Res Communis (no one owns but everyone uses). And rightfully so because just like forest, water and air, land is a means to life and must not be used for so much rakings by a few.

For thousands of years, they had lived abundantly in a land oozing with ecological resources in the spirit of sharing and service to one another.

In Mountain Province, the indigenous Peoples in that place even collectively transformed the land into rice terraces, using technologies that trust in the inherent processes of nature. They were one with nature, knowing when to plant just by looking at the stars. Look up to the Big Dipper and when the cup-like formation of stars appears that as if it is tilted that water will flow, then that is a sign that there will be rain.

They had no pharmacy then but no problem, they know what herb to take to cure whatever ailment they had.

They wanted to eat fruits or meat? No problem, the 17-million hectares dipterocarp forest is home to flora and fauna, the richest in the world as the Philippines was home then to endemic species not found anywhere else in the world.

Of the 17 million hectares, only less than 500,000 hectares remain as the loggers would earn 400,000 million pesos just in one shipment alone.

These logging activities happened in the last 100 years as the Philippines supply the timber needs of the world for the last century.

As we lost our forest being the invisible water dams, some 15 or the 25 major rivers are now either dried-up or silted; of the 13 major bays, 10 are already biologically dead. The massive destruction of the ecosystems has made the ecological people especially the LUMADS as the poorest of the poor.

When they would stand up for the cause of the environment, they will be killed like that of the case of Datu Sandigan Fausto Orasan when in September of 2014, was killed for protecting the environment.

After foreign colonizers, new colonizers came in the form of corporate globalization bringing their version of a flawed lifestyle that is founded on the material pursuit of instant wealth and power. And everything was not the same again… forever.

The Lumads woke-up to a new kind of reality of private ownership. Then suddenly, land titles came about, vesting land ownership to individuals or corporations where haciendas or big plantations sprouted. What happened to our Lumads? They have become squatters in their own land as they have no papers to show in terms of ownership. Are the thousands of years of occupation conclusive proof of ownership? Not at all, as far as these neo-liberal capitalists are concerned. Thus, it came to pass that our people lost the forest, their lands, the choicest of land.

Where are they now? They are tilling the land as agricultural workers of these big plantations or pushed to the marginalized hilly areas

It is shocking to know how oppressed the Indigenous Peoples are. Their ancestral domain has been illegally grabbed and transformed into plantations or ranches in gross violation of their right as embodied in the Indigenous Peoples’ rights Act.

When they would countervail against these aggressions to protect their rights, they are being erased from the face of the earth in fact some 63 IP leaders have been killed in the past 5 years including a pregnant woman and a five-year old boy. When one is killed, he now rests with Magbabaya.

But for those 1,000 families whose ancestral domain has been land grabbed, they are now living along the highways of Quezon, Bukidnon just eating once a day or nothing at all. The legs of their children have to be tied up as they are prone to be hit by running cars. That’s how oppressed the Indigenous Peoples are!

Indeed, Gaia or Mother Earth is now in severe pain and so are the Indigenous Peoples. We are now in the state of planetary emergency. Time is running out. We need now a robust movement to be the countervailing force against climate change and against the oppression of the Indigenous Peoples.


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