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Lumad children value their education

The mountainous countryside of Mindanao, Southern Philippines is home to the indigenous Lumad communities whose lives are constantly threatened by militarization and state-sponsored attacks. Through sheer determination and with the help of non-governmental organizations, they were able to establish their own schools for the education of Lumad children based on a homegrown curriculum that respects and promotes their indigenous rights and way of life. Today, many of these Lumad schools have been forcibly closed as nearby communities evacuate their homes to flee from continuing threats, harassment and killings.

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Thank you for your continuing support!

The Stichting voor Filippijnse Kinderen (Foundation for Filipino Children) wishes to thank all who have helped us raise a total of €2257.06 for the Lumad Bakwit School in Metro Manila. Donors come from Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, Canada, the USA and Australia.

Your gift made a significant difference to children like Katkat at the Lumad Bakwit School in Metro Manila.

Life tries to go on in the Bakwit School for displaced Lumad children, but they have had to adjust to the heavy-handed military quarantine in Luzon.

“Food and other resources are a serious challenge in this time of enhanced quarantine since we can’t leave the premises”, Bakwit School teachers worry for the next few weeks and months with the enhanced quarantine that could cut off resources for the students.

We know that times are becoming difficult with much of the world experiencing fear, anxiety, and social isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This type of experience is an everyday reality for many Filipinos, especially these Lumad students.

But amidst all these, we are reassured, more than ever, that it is the people’s collective movement that will defeat not just this virus but social inequality and injustices!

Give today.

We hope that you and your family keep safe in the coming days. It is through social solidarity, and not isolation that we all keep safe.

With gratitude, and solidarity,

Angie, Consie and Lyn

Stichting voor Filippijnse Kinderen

P.S. Every small donation counts. Please give the gift of social solidarity in these trying times.


Covid-19 pandemic affects life in Bakwit School

Reference: Rius Valle, Spokesperson, SOS Network, +639276995817

Life tries to go on inside the “Bakwit School” of the displaced Lumad children inside UP Diliman, but they, too, had to adjust to the enhanced community quarantine in the entire Luzon.

A “no visitor policy” was implemented by the university and college administrators in the Bakwit School.

But in the bakwit community, activities still abound for some 100 school children.

Sixteen year-old “KatKat” told us how they spent their time this week.

“May mga film viewing kami, mga gawaing kultural, at mga educational discussion. Pinag-aaralan po namin ang tungkol sa kalusugan, imperyalismo at kalagayan ng Pilipinas noon at ngayon” (We have film viewing, cultural work and educational discussion. We are learning about health, about imperialism and about Philippine’s past and present situation) Katkat said.

A few days ago, Lumad students and teachers filmed themselves making home-made face masks to protect themselves from the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19).

But Bakwit School teachers still worry for the next few weeks and even months with the enhanced quarantine that could probably cut off resources for the community, and their health concerns.

Rius Valle, spokesperson of the Save Our Schools Network, explained that in refugee camps, it is almost impossible to have ‘social distancing’ as the situation and location are preventing them to do so.

“That is why we are taking this issue seriously. A slight complacency is absolutely unacceptable” he added.

“The spread of the virus here in the Philippines is not on its peak yet and the government is lacking in mass testing. So this is not yet the worst. That is what I’m afraid of”, said Lumad volunteer teacher Jeany Rose Hayahay.

Even Katkat expresses worry not only for her community but for the urban poor that she sees when she is able to go around Manila.

“Sa tagal namin dito sa Manila, nakita namin kung gaano ka rami ang mga walang bahay. Naisip kasi namin na pareho kami sa kanila, pinalayas at inagawan ng tahanan. Nagpapasalamat kami dahil may UP, sila paano na?” (We’ve been here in Manila long enough and we’ve seen how many are homeless. We think we are the same, displaced and deprived of a home. We are thankful to the UP, but what will happen to them?)

Another concern for the community is where to source their food at this time.

“The food and other resources is a challenge in this time of enhanced community quarantine since we couldn’t leave the premises, and so do other individuals or groups who have been visiting us,” said Valle.

“We have been dependent on humanitarian support from different individuals and groups since 2017.”

“We might see things getting worse,” lamented Valle. “Everyone is anxious because of this government announcements that only instill fear and confusion. People need tests. People need to work. But government response to these is to threaten everyone.  This will affect health response and worsen shortage of food and services.”

The group is still thankful that there are groups and individuals who are able to donate goods to them even after the enhanced community quarantine was announced.

“Right now we are seeing different individuals and groups, some we never met before offered to help, from donating food and other supplies to offering transportation, equipment and volunteer work like marketing and such, all in an effort to help Lumad children get through with this,” said Valle.

The group also thanks the UP Diliman community for sheltering the children and providing the necessary health accommodation not just during but even before this CoViD-19 crisis. “In this time of uncertainty, these people, and they are a lot of them, like frontline health workers, teachers, church people, students and scientist, battling this virus, taking greater consideration to the needs of the poor and marginalized, have been reassuring us that during crisis, it is the people’s collective movement that will defeat not just this virus but social inequality and injustices,” Valle said. ###

You may still help us continue to support the Lumad Bakwit School: Donate


Lumad day visit: Happy Bonding Moments

27 DECEMBER, Philippines – Lyn and Consie, officers of the Foundation for Filipino Children (Stichting voor Filippijnse Kinderen), visited the Lumad kids in UP Diliman, Quezon City. These children are the foundation’s beneficiary for its project, Support Lumad Bakwit Schools. 

Lyn was with her husband and their three daughters, while Consie was with her daughter.

Representatives of the Save our Schools (SOS) Network – Mindanao gave a warm welcome and a brief summary of the plight of Lumad children and their families in Mindanao. Due to intensive militarization, human rights violations by state forces, and shutting down of their schools in Davao region, the Lumad children were forced to evacuate to Metro Manila.

They have been in Metro Manila since July 2019, when the Department of Education suspended 55 Lumad Schools in Davao Region upon the behest of the military claiming that the schools were used as a training ground of the New People’s Army. Three months later, in October, the department formally shut down the schools. The NTF-ELCAC (National Task Force for the Elimination of Local Communists and Armed Conflict), formed by virtue of the Executive Order 70, applauded the Department of Education for its decision.

The SOS network pointed out that the real motive behind the attacks against the Lumad people is big business interest for their rich natural resources. Foreign mining corporations are bent to operate and extract these resources from their areas. As the Lumad defend and invoke their rights to their ancestral domain and self-determination, the big foreign mining corporations, aided by the state through the Mining Act of 1995 and the military, retaliate with brute force.

Becoming a Bakwit (or evacuee) in the main capital, while a dreadful option, was deemed necessary. To continue their education, the network put up a Bakwit school. The kids still learn their usual subjects while attending to other activities the Network organizes to highlight their campaigns as well as to encourage others to get involved.

After the situationer, Consie talked about the Foundation and its projects, too. Then, an exchange of cultural performances ensued. The Lumad kids did a traditional dance and song while Lyn’s daughters graciously presented a dance they learned in school. The audience (mainly the Lumad children) were so delighted that they requested them to perform two more dances. The girls afterward gave each kid a special Christmas cheer, a stuffed toy they personally owned and brought along all the way from the Netherlands. They also gave each one of them a set of school supplies.

Closing off the welcome program, the Lumad kids sang a community song thanking everyone. The rest of the morning-to-lunch visit was spent mingling, and sharing light and happy moments, despite the language barrier. All it ever took to connect was the warmth of solidarity. ###

You may still help us continue to support the Lumad Bakwit School: Donate

Meet Angel May and Bandam

The Bakwit School 2019 – 2020

For the Lumad, it takes a village to raise a child and a movement to build schools.

In most far-flung communities of indigenous people, learning is a painstaking process. For a long time, the Philippine government has abandoned its responsibility in making education accessible for Lumad communities leaving them with no option but to walk for several hours just to get to the nearest public school.

But because of their eagerness to learn and develop their rich culture and tradition, Lumad communities persevered to establish their own learning institutions and programs with the help of faith-based groups and cause-oriented organizations. Their school curriculum is grounded on their culture and way of life that reflects their deep sense of identity as Lumad.

In response to the escalating human rights violations, the Save Our Schools (SOS) Network launched last year the Lumad Bakwit School in Metro Manila as part of the campaign to highlight the issue of military attacks on Lumad schools while ensuring the continuity of the operation of Lumad community schools even in evacuation centers.

This school year, some seventy-two (72) students are again in Metro Manila, Bandam and Angel May only two among them. Follow their stories and help the Foundation for Filipino Children in amplifying their calls and advocacies!

The success of this work is only made possible through the help of people like you. This year, the fight of the Lumad for their right to education, land, and self-determination continues.

Let us all be part of the movement to build and support the Lumad Bakwit School!

Learn more and Donate

Swiss volunteer group urges reopening of Lumad schools

This article originally appeared on https://www.mindanews.com/, by Brady Eviota. It is reposted here, with no affiliation.

For Monika Baumann, it feels like their 28 years of work to uplift the plight of Lumads, or the indigenous peoples of Mindanao, was going the drain.

Baumann heads the Theresa Laden, a Swiss volunteer group based in Jegenstorf here, which has been helping non-government organizations (NGOs) in the south, particularly in the Davao region, since 1991.

But the government’s move to close Lumad schools in Mindanao and the renewed counterinsurgency campaign targeting suspected communist members or sympathizers in the mountains have affected Theresa Laden’s development work.

Under the Duterte administration, at least 89 Lumad schools in Mindanao have been forcibly shut down, affecting around 3,000 students, the Save our Schools Network recorded.

In July, the Department of Education-XI suspended the “permit to operate” of 55 Salugpongan schools across the Davao region that cater to Lumads. The move was based on the instruction of Education Secretary Leonor Briones to suspend schools that are operating using “their permits for recognition.”

Baumann lamented that at least 15 schools that they supported have been closed.

The schools were built with funds coming from the European Union. The Theresa Laden was providing salaries to the teachers and assistance for school materials.

“It’s a very bad situation. The schools were closed and now the people are in danger,” said Baumann, claiming that the teachers have been harassed by the Army and are now afraid to go back to teach.

The military’s Eastern Mindanao Command earlier back DepEd’s decision to close the Salugpongan schools, noting they were “indoctrinating communism and teaching students to hate the government.” The military also denied harassing the civilians.

Baumann and her colleagues questioned why the schools were closed.

“For what (or whom) do we work now? We wanted to help develop these areas in Mindanao, for the children to go to school so they can be educated and afterwards they can go to work,” said Baumann, quoting her colleagues.

Baumann and 20 other Swiss women formed Theresa Laden, which opened a store for used or second-hand items in the community’s protestant Reformist church to raise funds for their development and solidarity work in Mindanao.

Their work in Mindanao had made a positive impact that in 2000, Theresa Laden was among those awarded by President Joseph Estrada with the Presidential Award for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas.

The Swiss group was lauded for its exceptional and significant contribution to Philippine reconstruction, progress, and development.

Baumann lamented this year’s closure of the schools they have been supporting.

“We were supporting them for many years. These are the only schools for the indigenous peoples in the mountains,” said the retired nurse during the annual Christmas sale that Theresa Laden held in Jegenstorf.

This year, part of the proceeds will be given to NGO partners that were affected by the recent earthquakes and floods in Mindanao.

Theresa Laden partners with about 30 organizations in Mindanao and works closely with the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) and the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation, Inc. (MISFI).

Some of their partners have been accused by the military of working with communist groups, with reported cases of several farmer and tribal leaders being killed, arrested or harassed as a result.

“It is now difficult to communicate with our partners. They are harassed and cannot speak openly, and some even have to change their numbers and emails,” Baumann said.

She cited Kasama, a sugar workers’ group that was forced to close their office in Bukidnon reportedly because of Army harassment, and whose officers had to flee to as far as Manila for security reasons.

Baumann noted the predicament in Mindanao is becoming difficult for Jegenstorf, a rural community populated by at least 5,697 residents northeast of the Swiss capital Bern.

The community, which supported Theresa Laden since it opened in 1991, has come to accept the group’s solidarity work in the Philippines as its own.

They love to come here to donate because they know their donations will help the NGOs and the schools, she said.

In April 2019, Baumann wrote President Rodrigo Duterte asking him to reconsider the closing of the Lumad schools, and to help stop the political persecution of the staff of RMP and MISFI.

She sent the letter to the Philippine Embassy in Bern, which did not merit a reply.

Baumann claimed that the government had allegedly blacklisted her and Theresa Laden, citing information provided by their partners in Mindanao.

Due to security concerns, Theresa Laden’s project monitoring and assessment work were affected, she said.

Owing to the situation, Theresa Laden is using its funds to support the legal fees of political prisoners and their handicraft livelihood project.

Baumann urged their NGO partners in Mindanao to remain steadfast in their advocacies, noting the Swiss volunteer group “will continue to be behind them.”

If you want to support Lumad children and fight school closures, please donate to the Foundation for Filipino Children. You can give easily and securely here through our online donation portal. 100% of proceeds are used to:

  1. Expose and oppose the militarization and plunder of Lumad’s ancestral lands, specifically in the Pantaron Range (Pantaron is a mountain range straddling across the provinces of Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Davao del Norte and Davao del Sur).
  2. To exact accountability from various government agencies involved in the cases of military attacks against Lumad community schools under President Duterte’s Martial law.
  3. To pressure the Department of Education to withdraw its resolution ordering the closure of Salugpongan schools and to issue the Permit To Operate (PTO) of all Lumad schools in Mindanao.
  4. To foster solidarity between urban-based/Metro-Manila-based advocates (groups and individuals) and the Lumad evacuees in Manila.
  5. Continue the provision of education services for the Lumad evacuees and in the campaign against militarization and state-sponsored human rights violations and for the preservation of their ancestral domain.

Donate today!

Lumad children join the commemoration of Bonifacio Day in Manila

Lumad children from the Save our Schools Network joined the November 30 Bonifacio day protest rally. They have been in Manila since July this year and staying in the Lumad Bakwit school, an evacuation school for them, as they’re forced to seek refuge in the main capital due to intensified militarization in their communities.

Indigenous, urban poor kids form ‘human tree’ to promote climate justice

Reposted from GMA News Online

Children from various indigenous and urban poor communities on Wednesday participated in a human formation of a tree in Quezon City to promote climate justice.

In observance of the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, different groups organized the Children for Climate Justice event at the Sunken Garden in UP Diliman.

The activity aimed to provide a venue for children and youth to express their concern and grievances over the violations on their rights, as well as the threats against the environment.

Children’s group Salinlahi’s secretary-general Eule Bonganay said the human formation activity is to give light to “environmental plunder.”

“Such include the intention to exploit the rich natural resources of Mindanao’s Pantaron Range through submitting it to big mining companies,” he said in a statement.

Due to this, the Lumad and nearby communities will consequently vanish, Bonganay added.

He also cited the Kaliwa Dam project as an example of environmental plunder, saying it will harm the Dumagat and other nearby IP communities.

Association for the Rights of Children in Southeast Asia  (ARCSEA) President Libertad Dipon said the event provided an opportunity for children to exercise their rights and participate in issues that are important to their sector.

“They were able to call for states, including the Philippines, to declare a climate emergency that would expedite a comprehensive climate adaptation and resiliency package—which will provide long-term ecosystems protection and restoration, disaster risk reduction, and economic and social protection—and to address the human rights implications of the climate crisis,” he said.

The Children for Climate Justice was led by the Save our Schools Network with its member organizations and collaborators Salinlahi, Climate Strike Diliman, Sandiwa Network of Advocates for National Minority Rights, Climate Change Network of Community-Based Initiatives (CCNCI), and ARCSEA. — Joviland Rita/BM, GMA News

Children for Climate Justice (C4CJ)

Reposted from Save our Schools Network FB Page

The 30th anniversary of UNCRC this November creates a momentum for the international community to step up its efforts to eliminate all the threats to a child’s ability to survive, grow, and thrive including one of the most urgent, climate change. Children along with marginalized sectors, though part of the least contributor to climate change, will bear the greatest burden of its impact.

Last September, we have witnessed the thousands of children and youth from all over the globe who filled the streets to demand actions to avert climate crisis. We can even find thousands of Greta Thunberg among the ranks of Filipino children and youth, especially the indigenous people, who lead the fight against plunder of resources and environment as well as its consequent human rights abuses.

Hence, the Save Our Schools Network together with its member organizations in collaboration with the Climate Strike Diliman, Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns, Sandiwa Network of Advocates for National Minority Rights, Climate Change Network of Community-Based Initiatives (CCNCI) and the Association for the Rights of Children in Southeast Asia (ARCSEA) will spearhead the Children for Climate Justice (C4CJ) during the observance of the 30th anniversary of UNCRC on November 20, 2019.

Thousands of children from Metro Manila are expected to join the event along with different children’s rights groups, institutions, schools, churches, youth organizations, students and fellow advocates all over the country. The activity will be graced by the participation of Lumad children from Mindanao who are now holding Bakwit School in Metro Manila and other Indigenous People Children here in the Philippines.

Children’s Festival 2014, the Hague, Netherlands

Please scroll down for the English version

U bent van harte uitgenodigd voor een gezellige middag vol Koerdische en Filipijnse cultuur: muziek, dans, onderling plezier, eten en leuke spelletjes! We gaan tijdens de middag – op de plek waar wij nú thuis zijn – ook met elkaar informatie uitwisselen over de situatie van de kinderen die opgroeien in de Filipijnse en Koerdische leefgemeenschappen waar wij vandaan komen.

Op 28 september 2014, 12:00 – 18:00

Waar: Koerdische Arbeiders Vereniging, Radarstraat 23, 2525, Den Haag

We hopen met deze bijeenkomst juist voor díe kinderen – slachtoffers van oorlogen, conflicten, natuurrampen in Koerdistan en in de Filippijnen – méér steun mogelijk te maken. De ontvangen inkomsten gaan direct naar onze respectievelijke partnerorganisaties ter uitbreiding van hun werk ter plekke (psychosociale opvang en therapie, pedagogische en educatieve ondersteuning, activiteiten en trainingen voor capaciteitsontwikkeling).

Kom het met ons meebeleven!
Onze wortels verkennen en op vrede hopen!
Op weg naar een betere toekomst!

Toegangs-/solidariteitskaartjes zijn verkrijgbaar voor 5 euro per stuk.
Etensbonnen kosten 4 euro per stuk. U kunt daarmee kiezen uit 5 soorten Filipijns of Koerdisch eten.

(Extra) Donaties zijn ook van harte welkom! U kunt uw bijdrage overmaken op:
IBAN: NL98INGB0004278866
Ten name van: Stichting voor Filippijnse Kinderen
Onder vermelding van: KF Children’s Festival

Voor meer informatie, of kaartjes te reserveren, e-mail (inquire@filipinochildren.net) of bel gerust: +316-30911756 (Angie)

ENGLISH version

You are invited to experience Kurdish and Filipino cultures in an afternoon of music, dance, fun, food and games! Learn about the situation of our children back in our home communities as we come together here in our second home:

WHEN: 28 September 2014, 12:00 – 18:00

WHERE: Koerdische Arbeiders Vereniging, Radarstraat 23, 2525, Den Haag

Through this gathering, we also wish to raise support for children victims of war, conflict as well as natural disasters in the Philippines and in Kurdistan. Proceeds from this activity will be sent to the organizers’ respective partner organizations to support their work (psycho-social debriefing and therapy of children victims, educational assistance, capacity- building activities/trainings, etc.).

Entry/Solidarity tickets are available for 5 Euros each;
Food tickets for 4 Euros each, choose 5 kinds of Filipino or Kurdish to go into your plate

(Additional) Donations are most welcome! Be a sponsor for a minimal amount of 50 Euros, inclusive of 1 solidarity ticket and 1 food ticket.

IBAN: NL98INGB0004278866     Account name: Stichting voor Filippijnse Kinderen
Omschrijving: “KF Kid’s Fest” + (number of tickets) OR (“Sponsor”)

For more information and ticket reservations, please send us a message through email (inquire@filipinochildren.net) OR give us a call:  +316-30911756 (Angie)


Gates open at 12:00 noon

> Face painting, games, etc.
> Filipino and Kurdish Food, information and products market (open during the whole event)
> Registration for the workshops (op is op!)

13:00 to 14:30: Workshops (children to choose one among)

  • Muziek (Kurdish rhythm and Filipino songs)
  • Games (Kurdish and Filipino games)
  • Painting “Hope and Peace”

Special workshop for the youth: Dance

14:30 – 15:30: Break

15:30 – 18:00: Cultural Presentations and messages

  • Presentations from each workshop group
  • Special song and dance numbers from various Filipino and Kurdish artists and migrants/refugees
  • Closing Ceremony

International Federation of Free Women and Stichting Helin, SAMAKA-NL, Pinay sa Holland, Stichting voor Filippijnse Kinderen

For the benefit of the Children’s Rehabilitation Center and Salinlahi (Philippines) and Göç Vakfı and Stichting Migratie (Diyarbakir, Turkije)