More than a month after the killings in Lianga, Surigao del Sur sparked a nationwide campaign to #StopLumadKillings, and after a spate of other killings, military occupation in civilian and indigenous communities, and encampment of their schools in different parts of Mindanao, the Lumad are now in Metro Manila. There are about 700 of them, and with them are peasants, Moro people, activists, environmentalists, students, and supporters, who traveled by land and by sea, marched and rode in buses, jeepneys and boats, ate and slept on highways and basketball courts–for a week until they reached the metropolis on the morning of the 25th.
The Lumad bring with them what could arguably be the most pressing issue in the country today: the militarization of indigenous and peasant lands, spurred no doubt by a host of corporate interests in the land, including largescale mining applications and operations, and planned and existing agribusiness plantations. It is no secret that soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines are in those lands because they want to protect something–the Philippine state, they declare, but more importantly the monopoly-capitalist interests that the Philippine state so cunningly and aggressively promotes.
The evacuations, facilitated by their own Lumad organizations, were acts of defiance against the military occupations. In evacuation centers in Davao, Tandag and other Mindanao urban centers, the Lumad sought refuge, but their presence also brought attention to their plight. With Manilakbayan ng Mindanao, the Lumad have levelled up their protests beyond passive resistance. The form that Manilakbayan takes, which is the journey from the rugged mountains of Mindanao to the concrete highways of Manila, brings attention to itself. In their marches, with their colorful traditional garb, we cannot help but look and, at least, wonder, at the culture they managed to preserve and enrich. And then we hear their chants, their cries for justice, and look at how organized and united they are, and we realize they have much to teach us as a people.