A woman’s place in the Blaan’s struggle for land

Oct. 23, 2012

She was not simply the wife of an indigenous anti-mining activist. Juvy Capion, the woman killed in what is now called the Tampakan massacre, was a farmer, mother of four, and leader of the Blaan community.

Davao Today

Davao City, Philippines — She was not simply the wife of an indigenous anti-mining activist. Juvy Capion, the woman killed in what is now called the Tampakan massacre, was a farmer, mother of three, and leader of the Blaan community.

On October 18 at 6 am Juvy Capion and her two sons Jordan, 13 years old and Jan-jan, aged 8, were killed in Fayahlob Sitio Datal-Alyong, Barangay Kimlawis, Kiblawan, Davao del Sur after military members strafed their hut. She did not get to drink the coffee prepared by her son, Jordan. She was also two months pregnant.

Her death was mourned by her sister-in-law Erita Capion Dialang, who said her perseverance and hard work made her a reliable leader in her community.

“She has the widest farm area in the community. Some Blaans relied on her and would like to work for her because she is generous. When she comes home from the farm, she would share her earnings to her fellow Blaans,” Erita lamented.

Juvy almost single-handedly tends a five-hectare land when her husband, Daguil Capion, went into hiding after waging pangayaw or tribal warfare against Sagittarius Mines Inc. which has mining explorations in Tampakan in South Cotabato, Kiblawan and Sultan Kudarat.

With fellow Blaan farmers helping her, they planted corn, potato, bananas and yam (gabi) for their sustenance.

But aside from farming, Juvy herself is an active member of Kalgad – a local organization they formed against the aggression by SMI in their areas.

Kalgad is a Blaan term loosely translated in Bisaya as “kakugi” or to perservere. Erita said Kalgad represents the Blaan’s ‘kakugi nga pagdepensa sa yutang kabilin’ (perseverance to defend ancestral lands).

The organization was formed after members of the Blaan community turned down the SMI’s offers such as relocation and money.

According to Erita, Juvy opposed the presence of SMI because it has caused division among the community and would destroy the Blaan ancestral lands.

Most of Kalgad’s leaders and members are women including Juvy and her sister-in-law Erita, who is the group’s Vice President.

“We worry about the men because if they will register themselves as members of the organization, the military will just interrogate them, will hurt them and tag them as members of New People’s Army,” lamented Erita.

“There was an assumption that women will not be hurt,” said Dulphing Ogan, secretary general of the Mindanao lumad alliance Kalumaran. However, this is not the case with the murder of Juvy and her two sons.

Kalumaran cited the fact finding mission headed by the Marbel Diocese Social Action Center that “(Juvy and her sons’) bodies were used in an attempt to compel Daguil to surrender to them.”

This has enraged the Blaan community. Erita said they now want nothing more than justice for the deaths of the Daguil family and the pullout of the 27th Infantry Battalion responsible for the killings.

The women’s group Gabriela Southern Mindanao also condemned the military. “During militarization, women and children are not spared. They are always the victims, like Juvy Capion, who in defense for her children’s future chose to fight against mining. And because the AFP tends to look at women as weak, they become easy targets,” lamented Mae Ann Sapar, the group’s spokesperson.

The struggle of the Blaans to protect their land has pushed Juvy’s husband Daguil and other Blaans to wage a pangayaw (tribal war), a traditional system of defending one’s tribe. With the deaths of Juvy Capion and her sons, the resistance intensifies.

In a statement by Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan sa Pilipinas (KAMP), a national alliance of indigenous people’s organization in the Philippines, it said that “it is entrenched in the culture of the indigenous peoples to defend their land and life. SMI is a threat to the way of life and the survival of the B’laan people. The pangayaw being waged is just.” (Kenette Jean I. Millondaga, davaotoday.com)

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