Kadayawan for whom?

by Krista Melgarejo

Growing up in Davao City, I’ve spent most of my years looking forward to the festivities happening around the city. Floral floats, street dances, the parades and most especially in-season fruits like the durian being sold at rock bottom prices. These things always come to any Dabawenyo’s mind with the Kadayawan – traditionally a festivity of the lumads to celebrate the abundance of their harvest.

But these past years, the Kadayawan has lost its true essence, especially for the lumads.

The history of the lumads is one of struggle, with decades of fighting for their ancestral lands and their right to self determination. With the continued harassment by military and the paramilitary elements, the lumads have become no strangers to walking thousands of miles away from their ancestral lands in order to find sanctuary in the lowlands and the big cities – from the premises of the UCCP Haran in Davao City to the major thoroughfares of Metro Manila.

With Digong’s Martial Law in effect since the Marawi siege, it has only given state forces the license to intensify its harassment against the national minorities of Mindanao.

The Save Our Schools Network reported there are over 7,609 lumad individuals who have been victims of threats, harassments and extrajudicial killings by state forces since the beginning of Duterte’s presidency. Under Duterte’s Martial Law, the numbers have been exponentially increasing.

With the closing down of more lumad schools and more people being driven out of their lands, they have found refuge in places like the University of the Philippines – Diliman which they will call home for the next few months. While the smiles of these energetic and eager lumad kids will never fail to inspire activists like myself, the thought of them being traumatized and becoming accustomed to the bakwit life is painful and enraging at the same time.

With the festivities of the Kadayawan capping off as of this writing, Dabawenyo or not, perhaps we should all stop and think about how do we perceive and deal with the issues of our national minorities. Have they merely become cultural tokens during these festivities or are we also prepared to stand next to them in these trying times?

Let’s call this wishful thinking, but I hope that as a fellow Dabawenyo and the former mayor of the city, Digong does the same. # (Featured image by Kilab Multimedia)