• Kim’s Dream
  • Orlando R. Ravanera

Earth Democracy movements are struggles of the disadvantaged and excluded, aimed at conserving nature’s balance to preserve their survival. This is what Indigenous People have been advocating and fighting for but until now remains unheeded. When we lost the 17 million of dipterocarp forest which had been in existence for thousands, if not billions, of years and the billions   species living in the forest ecosystem even before the homo sapiens came into being, the ecological people (the Indigenous People) lost nature’s and sustenance economy. When we lost the 13 major bays which are now biologically dead together with the 25 major rivers in the country  which had dried up or polluted, our country has gone down the drain on ecological security.

In her book, Earth Democracy for Justice, Sustainability and Peace, the world renowned environmentalist, Dr. Vandana Shiva said, “Earth Democracy movements are struggles of the disadvantaged and excluded, aimed at conserving nature’s balance to preserve their survival. Ecology and justice movements offer the world a future by working to ensure the survival of, and protect the fundamental rights to, the earth’s resources. They are movements of marginal communities who have been deprived of the benefits of market – and trade-led economic globalization but who bear all the costs. They reverse the trend of treating uprooted people as disposable people.”

Where are now the 15 million Indigenous People in the Philippines? They are now inside the vicious cycle of poverty and many of them have joined the Left.

In my sorties to the hinterlands touching base with the IPs who have organized themselves into cooperatives to combat poverty, I cannot help the outpourings of tears hearing stories of so much pains and injustice.  Stories of their water rights being violated, turned into money-making water project of a local government unit in Bukidnon while their families are without water.  The “Abaga Ta Bayug” (the Mindamora Falls) the sacred place of the IPs is being converted into a tourist spot where construction is going-on, creating havoc to the most beautiful 3-storey falls amidst the amazing green scenery of radiating trees and blooming flowers where flocks of birds flying above as if dancing to the music of the wind. Every inch of that  green scenery is sacred to the IPs where they converge to pray – but now, destroyed for money-making by the rich and powerful.  Newly born babies of the IPs are born with physical deformities, without arms, legs or anus because pregnant women drink from watersheds contaminated by surrounding plantations heavily using chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, many of which are already banned in other countries.

What is worse is when their Ancestral Domains are converted into plantations or are subjected as Community-Based Forest Management Agreements (CBFMA) without their knowledge.  The Chieftains approached me and queries were raised, i.e., Kami ba ay tinuturing pang tao? Di ba may karapatan din kami? But they assured me, they will not join the Left.  They will mobilize their collective power as cooperatives to fight for their rights.

Recently, they wrote our beloved President to narrate their sad stories of being harassed, of being exploited and whose rights are being violated.

Ang sabi nila sa sulat, “Tulungan po ninyo kami mahal naming Pangulo. Pag nagpatuloy pa ang kanilang kasuwapangan, kami po ay handang magpakamatay at pumatay.”

To those who are under-estimating them, may I share with you this truism. Yes, as cooperatives, the IPs are now harnessing their collective power peacefully.  But you should know that these cooperatives are now headed by no less than the former 6th Brigade Commander of the MILF Special Force Unit,  who is half Maranaw and half Higaonon with some 1,500 combatants of the North Eastern Mindanao Front at Camp Arkam Special Force Unit.

From armed struggle, they are now advancing cooperativism as they shouted: “Mga pagari ak’n, sama-sama tanu kooperatiba. Isa lang ang armas natin ngayon, kooperatiba lang!”

Let it be known by Dr. Vandana Shiva, a good friend in the environmental movement that in Mindanao the Indigenous People are advancing Earth Democracy for Justice, Peace and Sustainability. All for God’s greater glory!