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LAND OF CONTRADICTIONS

Kim’s Dream Orlan Ravanera
Mindanao: Land of the Brave & the Free

The colonizers came, be they Spaniards, Americans or Japanese but they failed to totally conquer or subdue the Mindanawons particularly the Moslems and the Indigenous Peoples, thus, the island has been described the site of the 2 nd longest war in the world, appropriately earning the moniker as the “land of the brave and the free.” Don’t you know that the Americans did invent the .45 caliber to stop a suicidal Moslem who could kill two or three soldiers before being finally subdued by a .38 caliber.

Today, Mindanao has been described as a “land of contradictions.” This is because social scientists and development experts have come up with studies disclosing that poverty is rooted not in the lack of resources because Mindanao is oozing with natural resources but in the powerlessness of the people to have access and control over their resources and utilities. Who decides? Who controls? Who benefits? Not the people but only a few oligarchs and Trans-National Corporations (TNCs) where 70% of the land (the choicest) is controlled by big agri-business corporations, planting crops to satisfy the consumerist needs of the people in advanced countries while we cannot even produce enough staples for our hungry people.

What is so disturbing is that these massive plantations which have covered more than 200 thousand hectares in Mindanao are using toxic chemicals which are already banned in other countries. Every time these corporations try to enter Puerco Rico or Costa Rica, the people ib those countries will protest, charging them of causing massive cancer and deformities of new born babies, thus, they entered our country, even being warmly welcomed by top officials. These plantations are using massively toxic chemicals that based on studies, as if we are dumping to our water tables some 2,000 dump trucks of toxic chemicals every day, the reason why so many are dying of cancer and the deformities of new born babies.

Indeed, Mindanao has become a neo-colony of corporations advancing a rotten system called Neo-Liberal Capitalism that is on the verge of collapsing because that growth- at-all-cost development strategy which is based on individual pursuit of wealth, power and self-aggrandizement has only been successful in sacrificing the people and the environment to the altar of greed and profit. It is likened to a giant off-balance. So as not to fall, it has to run and in running, it steps on communities, forests, rivers and agricultural lands and even on people themselves, leaving havoc on its path.

That kind of development that is being perpetuated by a few oligarchs can be likened to the workings of an auto-immune disease syndrome (AIDs) where no less than the body’s defense mechanisms are attacking vital organs, causing climate change, the extinction of the species and the rising of the ocean level which, in the absence of a major shift , will cause the collapse of the global system in less than 100 years as predicted by thousands of concerned scientists and environmentalists worldwide because the “earth’s tipping point has already been reached” as humanity is now “one minute before midnight.” That is the reason why no less than Pope Francis said in Lau Da Tu Si that the global economy is fundamentally flawed or something to that effect. That kind of economic system is dominant in Mindanao.

That is very true in resource-rich but poverty-stricken Mindanao. It is of due notice that there can be no peace if people are hungry with 85% of our children malnourished, underweight and stunted. In Mindanao, aptly called the “food basket” of the country, no one should go hungry, yet, it is in Mindanao where there is a high incidence of hunger. It is a great paradox seeing malnourished children amidst the vast agricultural land producing high value crops and all kinds of fruits. But these are for exports to feed the over nourished people in highly developed countries.

There can be no peace if the bulk of the Mindanawons are wallowing in poverty in an island oozing with ecological resources where two-thirds of the nation’s exports are coming from, yet, the poor in Mindanao are the poorest throughout the country. All the regions in Mindanao are suffering from high poverty gap ratio compared to the other regions in Luzon and the Visayas. The Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao has the highest incidence of poverty at 70% followed by the Caraga Region at 69% based on the Study of the United Nations’ Development Program (UNDP). Yes, amidst the bounty lies so much poverty and hunger. Thus, war is not the solution but to rectify such social wrong, to correct these contradictions. Thus, to the warring groups, why shoot each other . We must now stop the second longest war in the world – the Mindanao War

That ardent call for peace is a manifestation of the awakening process to stop a war that is “off-sync” with the contemporaneous painful social and economic realities. It is a wake-up call to all combatants from whatever side, from whatever camp, belief or ideology, serving notice to one and all that shooting each other is never the solution; such will only give more reason to kill to escalate war. Yes, the one that you are shooting is not the enemy but the rotten system that is sacrificing the people and mother earth to the altar of greed and profit.

War amidst hunger and malnutrition of the children. While the first portrays violence, bloody and brutal but I wonder which is more painful – war or malnutrition? The first or dying through bullets is so fast that the victims may not feel the pain anymore of a sudden death. While the pain of living of a malnourished child is long, tedious and an uphill torture to a child whose mental growth has been impaired by malnutrition and hunger. It is now imperative for all Mindanawons to reflect on these painful realities, the imperative need to correct social wrongs which all these years have been hidden from us though non-stop outpourings of gospel of lies through the mainstream media owned and managed by the oligarchs, deeply burying the Mindanawons to the fallacies of life. HOY GISING!

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