Preparing for Masig’s visit to the Lumads wasn’t an easy path. Their time wasn’t ours to hold and forcibly ask for – because they themselves had their own activities, both planned and unplanned.
Receiving a message last Thursday night that the event was to be on Friday really got me off the hook. I did not plan to do anything else yesterday aside from acads (because I still have 2 reports and an exam waiting for me). But, humanitarian service > surely an unproductive day because I’m a crammer.
(Being close to the fraternity (as in malala) has gotten me working voluntarily in every event because working with people you love doesn’t make the whole thing tiring).
So I left on a Friday (on a holiday-declared Friday) to go to UP Manila & meet up with the brods (and wait and plan a bit more….and eat snails); then leave for Baclaran.
/The whole event wouldn’t have been possible without Sulong Katribu’s Neen Sapalo. Super thank you, Neen! ❤ /
Getting to the area was kind of a challenge – well you had to control yourself -your mouth, your hands, your attitude – because you were so annoyed seeing the police in rows, sleeping & certainly preparing themselves to pick on activists should they seem to get in the way.
But the walk itself was fun.
Getting to the Baclaran church was the real thing. Vincent and I were the ones assigned to tell a story (Nang Ngumiti si Andoy) to the Lumad children. (Vincent did very well, as in sobrang proud ko na back-up lang ako ❤ ). It was actually nice seeing them smile and laugh at parts that were indeed funny. To tell the life of Andres Bonifacio, give the reminder that Oriang was indeed a her, too, to connect their lives to the life of Andoy – all these were few of the best things you’d want to do when you know they understand you.
After our story-telling, though, it was their turn to tell theirs. Their stories were heartbreaking. At young ages, they get pointed at with guns, they feel unsafe in their own home, they are threatened with weapons, detainments, and punishments they do not deserve. Then they sang a few songs in Manobo – and their songs were sang with real emotions that you’d really get overwhelmed with them. They told us they wanted to sing more, they wanted us to hear their messages through their voices, through the lyrics they send out; and so they did.
Then they asked about us, too. What grade we were in, what our courses were. And, god, I swear. This has been the most emotional thing that happened to me this week (haha, you crybaby). Vincent was the one talking to them, so he pointed at me and said, “Si Ate Ysel naman, 4th year na. Gagraduate na siya next year.” Everytime someone talks to me about my graduation, I always, always, add the line, “On time ‘yan.” This time, I wasn’t able to do that, because the Lumad kids turned their heads to see me and then clapped their hands.
Okay, I wasn’t emotional at first. The brods laughed (kasi we always have this inside joke sa pagiging on time ko HAHAHA) but clapped their hands, too. It was a happy feeling; this is it. Onting push nalang.
Then I told Jecho, “Sabi sayo on time ako eh,” to which he answered, “Hindi ba dapat nakakapressure yun?”
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAYUN NA NAPRESSURE NA’KO.
Jk, then the whole truth of my emotions dawned upon me and painfully hit my heart, omygod. Maybe one reason why they clapped their hands was because there I was, standing before them, almost done with schooling. I am able to study, to go to fieldworks, to learn more about the world through different subjects – and these, they are NOT able to do. These, they cannot do. All because of their situation; they are mistreated, humiliated, threatened – and of course they cannot focus with these happening. And they witness deaths; instead of having to watch videos (as we do in classrooms), what they get to see are live shows of killings – the military killing their leaders, their brothers and sisters: the military killing our indigenous peoples. Instead of being protected, they are abused. Instead of being able to learn, they are humiliated.
Hindi ko kinaya. That became my motivation.
At katulad ng pahuling pananalita na sinabi ko sa kanila kahapon bago kami umalis, Magkakalayo man tayo, nasa Luzon kami at nasa Mindanao kayo, kasama niyo kami sa pakikipaglaban.
Thank you, Lumad kids, for showing us that at your young age, you understand what you are fighting for. You have no choice but to fight, and that hurts me. But I am very, very proud. You are our heroes. Tuloy ang laban. (And thank you so much for the good time we had sharing stories, singing, asking and answering questions, taking photos ++. You guys are so fun to talk to. You deserve the best /especially from the government/).
And on a side note, thank you, Masig, for every event we successfully hold. From forums to pakain’s to cancer ward visits, and now, this, I am so grateful to be part of you and learn from all these.
(At kahit ‘di naman event HAHA, salamat sa araw-araw. Hindi pa rin tayo magsasabay….) ❤