Valle: We’re all in this together

RESILIENCE is a word that best describes a people who, in their own small capacities, are able to face up to the challenges usually brought about by natural or man-made calamities.

But I realized the best example of what resilience mean is the Lumads or the Indigenous Peoples’ (IP) lives, especially those living in far flung communities in Compostela Valley, who are constantly hounded by armed forces of the big mining corporations operating in the areas.

The lives of the Manobos and other tribes living in Talaingod have been disrupted countless times for years, and yet they would leave, return and leave and return again, and again, because as they say, it is the only life they have in their ancestral lands.

It was written on a tombstone in their sanctuary at Haran compound of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines that the Lumad spirit is enduring even as they are repeatedly unjustly treated, coerced and driven away from their Yutang Kabilin, their ancestral lands that they rightfully defend with their lives.

Time and again they have manifested a strength of character that was borne out of their struggles, not once wavering even as State brutality as exemplified and orchestrated by no less than the so-called Committee Chair on Human Rights in Congress, Nancy Catamco attempted to have them hauled back to their lands where they faced threats on their lives.

If the Lumads have remained steadfast and resolute in their defense, the repressive State forces on the other hand have continued to be obstinate in its arrogance, seemingly never really learning from the wisdom of the Lumads quiet, gentle but firm resistance.

The periodic exodus of the Lumads at the instance of the state forces’ intimidation must have been construed as a weakness by their oppressors, not really considering the fact that humans easily adopt to situations. In the case of the IPs in Southern Mindanao and even those living in other regions, evacuations did not really weakened them but rather they have found a new strength as they learn the ropes of survival through the years.

The Lumads not only learned the life skills they were taught as they continued to protect themselves and the next generation each time they face the challenges of surviving in cramp evacuation sites and keeping their faith and unity each time.

And that is where our role as law-abiding citizens that we are.

It is imperative for us to give our support in whatever manner, for these gentle people who stood up against all odds to preserve our Mother Nature that is now hanging on a balance because the moneyed few have coveted their abode to amass more wealth for themselves.

It is only right that we take it upon ourselves to support the struggle of the IPs, the Lumads who are the rightful stewards of our endangered environment that are wantonly destroyed by those who have such insatiable greed.

It is but right to support efforts to protect the last frontiers of the Lumads before we all sink into the pit that had been dug by mining companies who care less about what will happen when nature unleashes its wrath.

As the song goes in a High School musical, “We’re all in this together once we see there’s a chance…”, because we only have one earth and we are all vulnerable when our environment faces destruction.

We’re all in this together and we need to make a stand, not tomorrow, but today!