Visitors: A Lumad’s tale of hardships

Dec. 19, 2015

By May Anne Love Deseo, Davao Today intern

DAVAO CITY – Life in the countryside is hard says Julieta Canoman, a Matigsalog mother of four, and this makes her and other Lumad villagers to come down to downtown Davao City on Christmases to have the opportunity to receive whatever the city residents would have to give them.

She said the commodities in the countrysides are costly because of the distance, and the lack of money to buy them.

Julieta said she is happy when they receive casseroles and other house items from the residents during their caroling.

“Usahay hatagan mi diha og mga kaldero, unya among i-uli sa bukid kay mahal baya amoa didto unya layo pa gyud na amoang adtuan basta mamalengke mi (Sometimes they give us pots, then we would bring them back home because they are so expensive there and the place we do marketing is far),” she said.

The Canoman family is among the more than 25,000 Lumad individuals visiting here this Christmas.

They are currently staying in the open basketball court with other Lumad families in Barangay 5-A Bankerohan, Davao City. They had been staying there for almost two weeks since they arrived on December 5.

The family, along with other tribes have spent their Christmas here every year after Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s first win in 1988.

“Kami mga taga-Bukidnon, malipayon mi makaanhi mi diri sa Dabaw kay sa amoa sa bukid mura’g lisod kaayo sa bukid (We are from Bukidnon and we are happy whenever we come here in Davao because back in the province it is so difficult),” Julieta said.

Julieta is accompanied by her husband Dolphy, 42 together with their four children, namely: Joar, 11; Jennefer, 5, and her 1-year and 6-month old baby, Junalyn.

Julieta’s husband, Dolphy, said that they come to the city every December, also with the thought that they may rest from all the hard work back in the province, “imbis magpahulay mi sa siyudad, kada-adlaw biyahe, bun-og gihapon (Instead of resting in the city, everyday travel is still stressful).”

“Mao na’y problema gyud namo diri. Mao nang kada-adlaw gyud nga manaygon mi sa kada-balay, aron naa’y mahatag sa amoa (That is our problem here. That is why everyday we carol for every house, so that they will give us something),” he said.

Julieta said that life in the city is hard, but her family remains thankful for whatever goods they have received.

“Kontra diri sa Dabaw nga duol man gyud ang mapalitan. Didto sa amoa mag pliti pa mi, usahay dili pud magpliti kay kulang man lagi ang budget, magbaklay nalang mi. (Unlike here in Davao that there are stores nearby. Back at home, we still have to pay for our fare, sometimes we don’t have fare because we’re short on budget, so we decide to walk),” she said.

Although most of the lumad families stayed inside the Bankerohan gymnasium, she said her family prefers to stay outside than to mingle with other families.

Julieta shared that her family has to endure the scorching heat at daytime and cold breeze at night.

Like those long-suffering walks, another struggle their family has to face is when it rains in the city.

She explained how when one night, as they were about to drift off into a good night’s sleep, it started to rain and they were forced to get up and run for cover.

“Sige mi’g dagan-dagan paadto sa silingan nga balay. Ang makalisod para sa amoa, bisan katulugon na mi, lingkod-lingkod ra mi (We were running to a nearby house. What’s hard for us is, even when we are tired, we can only sit around),” Julieta said.

They sought help from the owner of a nearby internet cafe.

She said it is fortunate that her daughter, Jennefer is a friend of the owner’s daughter.

However, they had to wait until there were no more customers, and it took a while for them to finally lie down.

The family carols every day till 5:00 in the afternoon. The routine involves having to get up early so they can start walking towards Sasa which is roughly 9 kilometers from Buhangin. Julieta said they sometimes reach the Matina area.

They get mostly P1 to P5 and collects at least P50 at the end of the day. This is never enough for a family who is trying to save up before they go back to their province, but still, Julieta said she is thankful.

“May nalang makadawat mi og unsa’y ihatag sa amoa diri sa Dabaw. May na lang malipayon mi mag-uli sa amoa (It’s good enought that we accept whatever they give us here in Davao. It’s good enough that we’re happy as we go back home),” she said.

Bankerohan Barangay. 5-A Captain Edgar “Junjun” Ibuyan said that there is an estimated 2,000 families which equal to “more or less than 8,000 individuals including children” that arrive every Christmas season.

“For 16 years na kun diin ang atong barangay, nag-provide sa ilaha sa basic necessities nila, tubig, kuryente, ang labhanan nila, ligoanan nila, ug ang lutoanan nila (For 16 years the barangay has been providing their basic necessities, water, electricity, clothes-washing area, bathing area, and cooking area),” said Ibuyan.

He said that every year, the barangay has to pay “four or five times” of their usual bill for the whole month of December when it comes to billing.

Ibuyan added that when it comes to the health of the Lumads, the health center is on-duty for 24 hours and an emergency team with doctors are on standby. (

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