Dissent is a requirement for a dynamic democracy to prevail. Yet recent developments in the social movements such as the Lumad struggle for their right to ancestral land and children’s education highlighted in the social and mass media bring us to a mode of reflection what these rights are in light of the historic needs of the indigenous peoples of Mindanao.

Sadly, many raise questions on the legitimacy of the Lumad’s assertion of their right to defend their ancestral domain that may seem to crush the Lumad as a people. As a people, their worth and dignity is beyond reproach, more so to sustainably advance their life support system and promote a cultural heritage that genuinely depicts the source of the Filipino identity – the pre-colonial Filipinos- represents a value system each of the post-colonial Filipino must firmly grasp.

Interestingly, however, artists Aiza Seguerra  and her life-partner Liza Dino share much of the society’s quest for Filipino identity — they both find the Lumad as the true representatives of the pre-colonial collective self of the Filipinos.

Listening to and engaging in the conversations of the popular couple at the 2015 Lumad Kampuhan (Mindanao IP Camp) in Liwasang Bonifacio, Manila brought me to a point that we don’t need to be schooled in formal courses to learn history and science, but just listen in between the woes and perspective of the Lumad as they boldly prepare to go to the central streets and agitatedly call the attention of the national government on their plight.

Learning from the stories of the ordinary Lumad and the advanced practice ideas of their leaders weaves a perspective that Filipino ingenuity is deeply sourced. This ingenuity dissected in the way the Lumad resolved issues that challenges as well our mediocrity and simplistic approach to their issues. Theirs are simple, yet with breadth and depth, statements of their perspective in life that they want full access and control over their ancestral land over and above the large-scale mining tenements. They only want to prove that they could live in dignity and worth within the parameters of their forests and lands that they call their own – that serve as their market, pharmacy, recreation, physical and emotional fitness center-where they enjoy the sights and sounds of the insects, birds, fowls and animals.

They want to breathe fresh and clean air and for others to live harmoniously with nature.Why can’t the lowland settlers and state forces understand these concerns? Why make these as illegal claims?

So what if their aspirations jibe with the calls and agenda of the national democratic movement? What’s wrong? Does the Lumad break from the traditions ingrained in us by the corporate mechanisms of control?

What’s happening is that social control is being manipulated and strengthened by the forces extremely dangerously peddling the neoliberal policies at this height of globalization. Thus, anything that disrupts these is handled with all state’s might. And the Lumad is at the most vulnerable end. Yet their capacity lies in their strong consideration of the need to work with the lowlanders sympathetically working for and with their cause and, most especially, care for the earth for the next generation.

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