2 lumad kids witness rich ancestry at National Museum
Ghio Ong (The Philippine Star) - December 12, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Two lumad children’s visit to the National Museum made them appreciate their tribe’s rich ancestry and strengthen their call for justice for their tribesmen who fell victim to paramilitary troops.

Bertoldo Garay Jr. and Genasque Enriquez Jr., Grade 7 students from Lianga, Surigao del Sur, were among those who witnessed the opening on Friday of the museum’s gallery dedicated to lumad communities.

Enriquez and Garay said it was their first time to visit the museum, which features the traditional clothes and jewelry, home and livelihood tools and games of their tribe.

They recalled the time armed men raided the building of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev) in their town on Sept. 1.

“They shouted at us, they wanted us out. Then we really scrambled to go out of our school,” Enriquez said.

He said they were shocked to find the bloodied body of Ernesto Samarca, Alcadev head teacher, when they returned. Samarca was stabbed in the stomach and his throat was slit.

A paramilitary group called Mahagat executed two other community leaders, Dionel Campos and Bello Sinzo.

Since then, Garay said their families have been threatened by the military and paramilitary groups and told to leave their communities for good.

He said the soldiers, who insisted on guarding their lands for the construction of a dam, could be interested in the mineral deposits in the area.

Lumads in the area are at the receiving end of cruelty from the military, Garay said.

With their parents, lumad children are calling for justice for their slain tribesmen.

“We want the military and the Magahat Bagani to be jailed for their crimes against us,” Garay said.

Ana Theresa Labrador, National Museum assistant director, said the most challenging part of putting up the exhibit was establishing similarities and differences among the lumad communities in Mindanao.

“We made a map and chart based on ethnicity and language they use for us to show these,” Labrador said.

Aside from lumad objects, the exhibit also features objects of Moro Mindanao origin.

“We make sure that the exhibits will be appropriate and sensitive to the issues and concerns surrounding the lumad and Bangsamoro peoples,” she said.

She said the museum made sure the exhibits would no longer marginalize indigenous Filipinos.

Sen. Loren Legarda, chairman of the Senate committee on cultural communities, said the exhibit makes a strong argument on the need to stop the displacement of Lumads from their communities.

ACIRC AGRICULTURAL AND LIVELIHOOD DEVELOPMENT ALCADEV ALTERNATIVE LEARNING CENTER ANA THERESA LABRADOR BERTOLDO GARAY JR. AND GENASQUE ENRIQUEZ JR. DIONEL CAMPOS AND BELLO SINZO ENRIQUEZ AND GARAY ERNESTO SAMARCA GARAY NATIONAL MUSEUM
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