by Tiara Nacario

The University of the Philippines (UP) community welcomed 3,500 members of national minorities hailing from all across the country for Kampuhan sa Diliman 2016 at Quezon Hall, UP Diliman.

Minorities from Abra, Isabela, Cagayan Valley and Nueva Vizcaya were first to arrive Oct. 12 while the remaining contingents from Visayas and Mindanao arrived Oct. 13.

On the second day of the arrival of the national minorities, performers from groups such as Alay Sining, Himig Maskom and Kontra Gapi entertained the crowd of students, faculty and personnel.

Sana isapuso ang hindi pagiging hiwalay ng laban ng kultura sa laban sa karapatan, kalayaan at iba pang batayang serbisyong panlipunan,” UP Student Regent Raoul Manuel said.

Beginning as a campaign against military harassment to Lumad communities in 2012, this year’s Lakbayan aims to forward the right to self-determination as well as a just and lasting peace.

These calls are coupled with the opposition against the militarization of ancestral lands and the displacement of indigenous communities.

“[Land-grabbing] in Mindanao was already an issue in the 1970s, when I first graduated in UP,” UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan said, adding that after all these years, the situation remains the same.

“Nakakalungkot, pero the fact na nandito sila sa UP, nakakataba ng puso. Ang mga estudyante ngayon, kumbaga part din ng edukasyon ito, to learn from them, and sana naman, 40 years from now, hindi na ganun ang sitwasyon,” he said.

“Para ma-maintain yung kultura ng mga pambansang minorya, kaakibat nito ang pag-preserve sa kanilang mga ancestral domains. Yung lupa ay buhay, yung lupa ay kultura,” UP Student Regent Manuel said.

The chancellor also said the people must not wait for the government’s response to handle the issue of land-grabbing and the displacement of national minorities.

“Iba’t iba kasi ang problema, iba’t ibang agency rin ang sasagot,” Tan said. “Pero inuulit ko nga, palaging sinasabi na ‘Change is coming’, pero ang tingin ko, agree ako sa University Student Council, tayo ang pagbabago. ‘Wag tayo maghintay sa gobyerno.”

Moreover, USC Councilor Ben Galil Te believes Lakbayan 2016 is not only an opportunity for social interaction with the national minority but also a call against neoliberal attacks on students as well as these minority groups.

These neoliberal attacks are manifested in the privatization of student services and tuition fee hikes for the students and the large mining companies responsible for displacing cultural minorities, according to Te.

“Matibay ang paninindigan ng mga Iskolar ng Bayan na nagkakaisa tayo laban sa mga neoliberal na patakaran at pagkakataon na ngayon na pagkaisahin na ang ating laban,” Te said.

An educational discussion will take place on Oct. 15 at the camp grounds. On this day, the Lakbayanis are also set to launch the Alliance of National Minorities at the College of Science Amphitheater.

This will be followed by a forum on peace talks with  on Oct. 18, and a cultural night on Oct. 20 among other activities.

Members of the national minority will be residing stay in different colleges and areas within the University of the Philippines Diliman until Oct. 21.

Students and faculty are welcome to visit them on their respective camps.


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