Salupongan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Unity in Defense of Ancestral Land
The land that provides, we must preserve.The culture that thrives, we must preserve.From land to mouth. From seed to fruit.We learn. We play. We teach. We defend.
We dedicate this video to all who do justice, love, kindness and walk humbly with God.
Your problems are not just yours, we are all interconnected. We have to help and learn from each other.
The students in Salugpongan go to school because they want to serve their communities. Many of those I interviewed wanted to be teachers, doctors or agriculturists so that they can address the most basic issues that their communities are facing. The teachers’ primary goal is to help them achieve these dreams as well. According to one of them, “the first thing we had to do as teachers here was to learn. We had to learn their language, their culture, and the struggles that we are facing so that we can better provide an education that addresses that.
The vibrations of the Talaingod Manobo people’s unabated protest against the heightened militarization in their communities shook throughout the streets during their evacuation (bakwet) in Davao City and could be felt from my planted toes out to my anxious fingertips as we marched in support of #OneBillionRising - dedicated to womxn’s rights advocacy, specifically speaking to the continuous violation of indigenous womxn’s rights. Standing feet to feet in shared body warmth as true warriors do and moving as one towards building bridges of solidarity as kasamas have done for generations, we were organized under intentional leadership and purposeful objectives. These are our brothers and sisters; these are our mothers and fathers; these are our children and they are fighting for the schools they need in order to be well equipped in defending their ancestral lands from future imperialist invasion. Having engaged with the Talaingod Manobo during their evacuation and not only witnessing but truly feeling and experiencing the depth of this struggle, I am back in the Bay Area with an ignited fervor to push for the international solidarity they need and continue to tell the stories they have endured - the stories that need to be heard.
I have seen their struggle for a better life. Through education, we can help them empower their lives. I have been connected with the students of Salugpongan Community Learning Centers since 2012. People are asking me, “Why?” Initially, I went there for a medical mission because basic health is also a big issue out there. When I was there I learned that foreigners from other countries are also extending their help. I thought to myself, “How about me? Why can’t I, being a Filipino, help?” This is what I call “looking back and paying back our people.
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