• Kim’s Dream
  • Orlando R. Ravanera

No less than the United Nations General Assembly decided in 1994 in a resolution that the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples shall be observed on 9 August every year. That is how important the Indigenous Peoples are, living in the regions of the world and own, occupy or use some 22% of the global land area and numbering at least 500 million Indigenous Peoples.

What is so amazing is that the Indigenous Peoples have lived sustainably for thousands of years in oneness with nature with a firm belief that “all things are connected.”  To quote the world-renowned environmentalist Dr. Vandana Shiva: “They protect the ecological processes that maintain life and the fundamental human rights that are the basis of the right to life, including the right to water, the right to food, the right to health, the right to education, and the right to jobs and livelihoods. They recognize and respect life of all species and all people.”

Dr. Shiva elaborated: “To protect the environment against the insane ideology known as corporate globalization which sees the world only as something to be owned and the market only as driven by profit, the Indigenous Peoples have declared – our world is not for sale, our water is not for sale.”

In a world where there is so much veneration to the profit motive and so much denigration to the sacredness of life, the wonderful culture of the Indigenous People should have been the countervailing force against what Dr. Shiva described as the “suicidal, globalized free market economy based on plundering and polluting the earth’s vital resources which displaces millions of farmers, craft-people, and workers.”

In my sorties around Mindanao dialoguing and organizing the Indigenous Peoples into cooperatives, there were so much outpourings of pains and tears as Chieftains, Datus and Baes of the Manobo and Talaandig Tribes  narrated to me how oppressed and exploited they are. I saw personally how the bridge over the Taganibong Creek in Dologon, Maramag, Bukidnon was concretely fenced disallowing the IPs to pass. In the nearby Sitio Sinilayan, the NIA Water System that provides irrigation was closed depriving the IPs of their water needs Even the rights to the 3,400 hectares in Sinilayan which are part of their Ancestral Domain which they have been claiming for the past 50 years have been violated as reported to me by Datu Mayon Anlaw and Bae Intunda. In San Fernando, Bukidnon, Bae-leader named Bae Lea Tumbalang was shot dead recently for fighting for the IPs’ water rights.

In Kibulag, Talakag, the “Igpanadayug Ta  Abaga Sa Bayug Cooperative” (Protect Mindamora Falls Cooperative headed by Sultan Abdul Amoran with some 2,000 IP members (half-maranaw, half higaonon) wrote no less than President Rodrigo Roa Duterte stating that  “mahal naming Pangulo, kami po ay humihingi ng tulong dahil pagnagpatuloy po ang kasuwapangan ng mga sumisira sa Abaga sa Bayug na ginagawa nilang tourist spot para kumita, kami po ay handang magpakamatay at pumatay dahil ang lugar ay sagrado sa amin.” Chairman Sultan Amoran is the commander of the MILF North Western Mindanao Front Special Task Force with some 1,500 combatants based in Camp Argam, Maguing, Lanao del Sur but now based in Kibulag, Talakag.

In Lingig, Surigao del Sur, some 1,300 Manobo Cemulawanon Tribes organized themselves into cooperatives with some 300 former NPA members who two years ago surrendered to no less than President Mayor Duterte and now have opted to fight the number one enemy of the country – poverty.

In Sibagat, Agusan Sur, NPA Kumander Datu Subang (Arnold Acebedo) surrendered and became the Environmentalist of the Year for putting up a Greening School for the young tribal members.  The 10,000-member Manobo Tribe are now organizing themselves into cooperatives to uproot the root causes of war – social injustice.

As we therefore celebrate the Day of the Indigenous Peoples, let notice be serve to one and all that in a world so enamored in externalities and trivialities brought about by the present development paradigm that has buried humanity in so much materialism and consumerism, the liberating force is the essence of cooperativism being trail-blazed by the Indignous Peoples which is — Transformative Cooperatives for People, Planet, Prosperity and Peace! –All for God’s greater glory!