By CHRISTINE JOICE C. CUDIS
AS THE voices of human rights protectors appeared to have gone nowhere and remained to be unheard over years of rallying on the streets and in front of government offices, an organization diverted its strategy to be heard -- this time to a more creative way.
Salupongan International (SI), a solidarity network inspired by the aspirations of the Manobo Talaingod tribe who united their villages to defend their ancestral land and rainforest from being destroyed by corporate loggers decades ago in the Southern Mindanao Region, and Save Our Schools (SOS) Network, a child rights group together with Davao-based, Kilab multimedia, formed another music video dedicated to document the long enduring struggle of indigenous people to defend what was supposed to be their rights.
SI and SOS are hoping to capture the interest of a wider audience inputting light to the situation of the Lumad evacuees who are now taking shelter in the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Haran compound along Father Selga Street.
As part of their objective to provide awareness among those who have not fully grasp the hapless situation of the lumads who were forced to move out from their communities in Talaingod, Kapalong, Davao del Norte and Barangay White Kulaman, Kitaotao, Bukidnon, the groups launched on Saturday a simultaneous viewing of their second music video, entitled "Salupongan" which means unity at UCCP Haran and at the University of the Philippines Diliman Film Institute.
SI board member Leah Valle, in an interview, said that the incorporation of arts in their fight for justice plays a vital role for the community's acceptance of the issue. She also added that the support from influential people in different parts of the country gained an impression to the public that whatever they are doing is not any form of rebellion against the government as some people label them as leftists for joining the cause.
"Art is the soul of a human. We may not notice it but we understand better through art, it could be through literary, musical, and performance art. Thus, we are educating people through these music videos which we see as a form of transjournalism. It means it encompasses multiple media in an expansive way; hence, reaching a bigger audience," Valle explained.
Multi-awarded artist Maan Chua also graced the event and shared her songs on the roots and culture of Mindanao, reminding the lumads of their prerogative to till their lands without fear of being attacked by men who want to take them away from their communities rich in mineral resources.
In an interview, Chua said: "When you mix music with social issues, it will live forever and people will know about it. I have the right to write songs about Mindanao because this is where I live, I have the right to tell those who need to listen, what happens here."
Chua is also part of the first music video released by SI, SOS, and Kilab Multimedia with the title, "Mindanaw". It is accessible through YouTube under the Salugpongan International account.
The latest music video is directed by Carlos Siguion Reyna which features over a hundred musicians and actors, including John Arcilla, Aiza Seguerra, Isay Alvarez, Robert Seña, Bayang Barrios, Mae Paner, Christopher de Leon, Edgar Mortiz, Bimbo Cerrudo, CrisVillonco, Lorenz Martinez, Myke Salomon and music groups like Baihana, Patatag, UP Cherubim and Seraphim, Coro de Sta. Cecilia, along with a dozen lumad musicians.
The event is part of the month-long Mindalakbayan for land, environment, and human rights and justice. It will serve as a venue to hear the voices of the Lumad and advocates speak on the current campaign against the intensifying militarization, violations, and killings of Indigenous Peoples in Mindanao.
Fittingly, "Salupongan" music video calls on everyone to come together to defend and uphold the rights, welfare, and future of the Lumads.