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. ###
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