Rebel

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Lumad: Understanding the Issue.

Published Agosto 4, 2017 by jptan2012

Although, I have made some political forecast on this blog, this blog has never been political. One of the latest ‘political’ forecast I have written is about the 2016 Philippine presidential elections. Both my forecast regarding the presidential and vice – presidential results both came true. As I have said, those are forecast and although it is about politics, the nature of the post is not political.

Today, however, I’m going to write about something that may be perceived as highly political. I want to write about the plight of the Lumads. If you are a Filipino who have watched or been up to date about the current political situation in the Philippines, you would have heard about the Lumads. In fact, the Lumads has supported President Rodrigo Duterte in the last election. However, recently just before the State of the Nation Address (SONA) one of their leaders has come out and blatantly said that they regret supporting PDuts and that it was a wrong decision fro them to do so. Consistent with the President’s personality, if you criticize him, he will attack you, and so he did and said that he will bomb all the Lumad schools because they are run by NPAs. Since the announcement, the DND Secretary has since announced that no such move will be made.

After the SONA, I have heard of people attacking the Lumads, but upon probing they seem not aware of who the Lumads are and what are their plight. And so I have decided to write about Lumads and their sad plight. Please note that some parts of the post might be perceived as critical or as highly political. The truth is as much as I want to avoid being political there are truths that can’t be avoided and I do have to write about it, these truths, unfortunately, are political in nature.

So here’s a brief on the struggle of the Lumads.

Lumad is a generic term for all Mindanaoan tribes but I think this excluded all Muslim tribes. .

As tribes their ancestral lands have been threatened many times, on different issues, and by different groups.

Their usual struggle are with loggers, big and small scale, mining companies, big and small scale, etc. To put it simply, any group or anybody who threatens their ancestral lands is also a threat to the Lumads. For years they are being driven out of their ancestral lands to the point that they no longer have stability and peace. Different groups now reach out to the tribes – religious groups (Catholic and Protestant), International and Local NGOs. Government agencies are not as aggressive in helping, if not totally not felt.

Education is also a challenge because DepEd does not put up schools in remote communities. They expect the IPs (Indigenous People) to walk kilometers on end, and expect them to blend with non IPs.

Aside from the fact that DepEd’s curriculum is not IP friendly. It does not have special subjects on culture, tradition, and other IP related issues, which are very important to help them maintain their identity and culture.

Being so, different groups, in different areas different groups have opened IP schools, with volunteer teachers being given “allowances” only. Some teachers are really LET passers that doesn’t have the privilege of having backers at the DepEd and are unable to get a job. So instead of working as cashiers, store clerk or house maids, etc, they’d rather teach even if they only go home 1x, 2x a month and receive only allowance.

The curriculum in these schools are more sensitive to IPs. Of course, there’s emphasis on environmental protection like it’s not proper to cut down trees, and one should take care of rivers, seas, and mountains.

There are ares where the oppressors are aggressive. Mining companies that have driven out IPs maintain PAGs or Private Armed Groups which co exist with the local Phil Army. PAGs have high – end ammo, sometimes they are even than what the army carries. Several of my friends has seen some of them carrying AK -47.

In areas of Davao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, mining companies are trying to explore “other” sites, which are ancestral lands of the Lumads. These are also the sites where the oppressors are more aggressive.

Lumads doesn’t have any weapons, unless bolos are counted, but they only use it for their daily life like chopping bamboos.. Lumads are generally peaceful tribes or people. They’re not warriors like the Tausugs. So when threatened, they NEED to look for help. So when they become vulnerable because of a threatening situation, they don’t have much choice but to ACCEPT the help of the NPA. The Lumads also admit that there are a few ‘renegade’ Lumads that are being recruited by the PAGs. Of course, in situations like this, money is involved. These renegade Lumads turn their back on their tribe.

As mentioned Priest and Nuns also help the Lumads. The nuns who sells Turmeric Powder, they usually get it from the Lumad communities.

Of course, each group has it’s own approach. The church usually helps in education, livelihood and spirituality. The NPAs provide protection and security.

At this point I would like to make it clear that there is no way I condole violence and support the ideology of the NPA.

2 years ago, a foreign owned mining company that seems to have ties with a Congressman from Visayasdrove out and burned a community in Surigao which they have been wanting to EXPLORE but the Lumads have tried so hard to protect. Because of this the PAGs killed the executive director and 2 volunteer teachers in Surigao IN FRONT of the whole Lumad community. PAGs with the local Army (of course they denied), gathered the whole community, separated the men, women, children they then slit the throat of the ED, then gun down 2 teachers in full view of the shocked Lumads.

Governor Pimentel (although some say he is also connected with Mining companies) took the thousands of Lumads and housed them for over a year at the provincial sports complex. He challenged the national agencies (NBI, PNP, AFP) to arrest and disarm the PAGs.

The national agencies said, why didn’t the police of the Governor arrest them? But according to the governor the .38 caliber of their police is literally rusty, how can they fight with PAGs with AK47!

Anyway, no apprehension was ever made.

It is sad that lately the Lumads are evacuating the area again because they are being harassed either by PAGs or the Army.

This problem has been existing for quite some time, and it is difficult to put the blame on a single administration. However, it is also clear that mining is one of the main reason of this attrition. But so far, mining continues, despite of the pronouncement that the administration is against it, it does continue to these days. Gina Lopez was supposed to be the hope and savior of the Lumads, but her efforts were put to an end when the Commission on Appointments didn’t approved her, and it is perceived that the president didn’t put pressure on CA to have her approved.

Anyway, so every so often, this is what happens to the Lumads. PAGs will threaten Lumad communities, the church will help, but when violence erupts it really are the NPAs who help them.

The Army is said to hate the IP schools because IP kids become more intelligent and know their right because of the IP schools.

Before I end this post, I would like to state that this is how I understand it, but please feel free to learn more about it by doing your independent research. I would like to stress here, I don’t mean to put what the NPAs are doing in a good light, neither do I support any form of violence, be it from the rebel or from the government. I also don’t support the ideology of the NPAs.

For questions, comments, and suggestions please email sanaakosirickylee@gmail.com

 

If In Danger Chant the Names of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for Protection!

Published Hulyo 1, 2015 by jptan2012

Today, I once again would like to share a natural way of tapping into the power or blessings or protection of a Buddha.

This happened a few months back. I had a business/project trip in a remote part of Zamboanga, since we have to catch a flight back to Manila, we decided that we should leave early to go back to the city because we were informed that the roads, since we are in a very remote place might not be safe. However, due to last minute concerns our departure for Zamboanga City was delayed. As a result we had to leave for the city in the wee hours of the morning.

A lot of people were against the decision to leave at around one in the morning, but those who decided they want to leave is more than those who wants to stay. I myself would have wanted to stay. The reason for pushing for us to leave is because flights have been booked and rebooked several times that we can no longer afford to rebooked them again, because doing so will entail so much money and not to mention inconvenience to a lot of people. The heads of our group decided to risk it because we have some military escorts anyway.

I was totally uncomfortable with the decision but was not able to do anything because we took the stance of heeding the majority’s decision, not to mention, the majority also has the voice of the leaders of the project.

Amitabha Buddha

Amitabha Buddha

So off we went. As soon as we set off, I decided to alternately chant the name and mantra of Amitabha Buddha, Medicine Buddha and Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. I was determined to continue chanting it even if travel time is approximately 7 hours or until we reached an area where our escorts can guarantee safety even without them protecting us. So I began to chant.

medicine buddha

Medicine Buddha

We were a large group and we have a total of 7 cars, in each car we have either 3 or 4 military escorts each riding with us. We said that we should convoy, without breaking the sequence of the car. Meaning no overtaking. The first car will always be the first car and the last car will always be the 7th car or the last car. I rode on the 5th car, meaning there are 2 more cars behind me.

Again, I would like to stress that all through out I was alternately chanting the name and mantras of Amitabha Buddha (NAMO AMITUOFO / OM AMI DEWA HRIH), Medicine Buddha (NAMA XIAO TSAI YEN SHOU YAW SHI FO / TADYATHA OM BHEKANDZYE BHEKANDZYE MAHA BHEKANDZYE RADZA SAMUGATE SOHA) and Kuan Yin Bodhisattva (NAMO KUAN SHI YIN PUSA / OM MANI PADME HUM). Approximately, on the 2nd hour of our travel, our tire hit something, which cause it to ‘explode’. As a result we got a totally flat tire! For some reason, the first four cars didn’t notice our predicament, and our mobile phones were not working in the area because of lack of signal, we tried informing them through short-range radio, but we are unable to get in touch with them also. The place was really dark and in a ‘middle of no – where’, we can’t even see a single house or light. All the lights are coming from our car and mobile phones and flashlights. But we have to turn them off because our escorts are afraid that the lights might attract ‘rebels’ in the area. Nevertheless, all of us in car number 5 were asked to get off while the driver and some of our escorts change the tire. As a safety precaution, all the civilians in car number 5 were squeezed inside cars number 6 and 7.Kuan Yin

You can see that a lot of the civilians are scared, some try to make light of it, but there was one of us who deals with her fear by getting with the first 4 cars, that they didn’t even stop or came back for us. To be completely honest, I was also a little scared, I believe in the power of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, but neither do I want to tempt fate.

To make the long story short, I continued quietly chanting, and after a short while that seems like eternity for us, we were asked to go back to car number 5 and off we went on our way.

After about 30 to 45 minutes of travel from when we had the flat tire, we caught sight of our companions, which are cars number 1 – 5. We knew right away something was wrong, because their tires were flat also and at several of their escorts were obviously physically hurt.

Apparently, for some strange reason, they were already quite far when they noticed that we weren’t able to follow. They wanted to go back for us but armed men attacked them. It was only their extreme luck that no one was killed, but all their valuables including mobile phones, bags, and guns of their escorts were all taken away. Because of our ‘accident’ we were saved from this, and all we had was minor trouble.

I, as well as other people in the whole group totally believe that we, cars number 5 to 7 were saved by some higher divine beings. I know Amitabha Buddha, Medicine Buddha, and Kuan Yin Bodhisattva saved us. Our accident was not an accident; we were stopped to save us from a possible harm. Our escorts think that the group that attacked them was big enough to overpower 4 cars, but maybe not 7 cars, in which case if they see 4 cars they might resort to ambushing the cars by firing on it before stealing our things. It was a miracle!

I totally believe that by chanting the names and mantras together with my amulets like the Vajrapani Ruel, we were saved from harm.

On my next post, I will discuss why it was only car numbers 5 – 7 were totally saved and not cars 1 – 4.

For questions, comments, and suggestions please email sanaakosirickylee@gmail.com.

 

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