We have come to you, we Indigenous Peoples of Mindanao.
We have been thrown into these mountain places where
we now dwell because of the cruel onslaught of history.
We who are the descendants of the First Inhabitants—
the Indigenous Peoples of the Philippine islands have been
marginalized, rendered outcasts, and deprived—denied
the amenities of life in our respective communities.
We Indigenous Peoples of all the tribes are deprived
of all the requirements needed for our wellbeing.
The government has denied us education—schools.
Denied us all the benefits and graces enjoyed
by the other peoples in the lowland communities.
We are the poorest of all the poor in these lands!
We are the most exploited, most oppressed, most deprived!
We are called tumanduk (native) here on these lands of our birth!
But we have no birthrights, no livelihood, no future.
We are scorned by them who took away our lands.
We have come to you, our beloved Holy Pope Francis,
Father and Shepherd of our lives and existence!
We have come to seek your help with our big problem:
We have since safeguarded and protected Mother Nature.
All the creations of God in the air, water and on earth
we have safeguarded and tended with great care
in order to deliver them intact for the future generations.
BUT . . .
What has happened? What has become of them?
Our efforts have been laid to waste!
Our strifes have been turned to naught!
For the Government that is supposed to protect us
and the environment has in fact been the one
who threw us to the mercy of the heartless ones—They!
The big foreign capitalists!
They have cut down the trees, dwelling place
and life source of all the creatures of the forests!
They have bored, scraped and leveled the mountains
so that they can cart away the gold ores
and the other treasures of our lands!
They have poisoned our rivers and cataracts
and all the waters of our environment!
They have destroyed! Defiled sacred Nature!
They have turned our Paradise into a hell!
And we—We who have been thrown by history
into these wilderness that we have made our abode. . .
they have driven us away from our Ancestral Lands,
the only home land of all the tribal peoples.
We! We the indigenous peoples who have been entrusted
by our ancestors as stewards of Mother Nature. . .
are now being robbed of our world, our native land!
And the Government that is supposed to protect us
and Mother Nature is the very culprit who allowed entry
of the Foreign Capitalists that have despoiled the Environment!
And the most diabolic of all acts that this Government did—
it has spawned the entire countryside with soldiers!
The Government has never considered us part
of its citizenry to be protected and cared for.
It has endeared more the Foreign Capitalists!
Has privileged the thieves and despoilers of Nature
more than we Indigenous Peoples who are the Original dwellers
of these lands that constitute this country Philippines!
These soldiers that have swarmed the mountain areas
are more ferocious than the wild beasts of the forests!
They never recognize and respect our human rights!
Nay, they have killed, kidnapped and tortured
our leaders!—anybody among us whom they have known
to be critical and opposed to the operations of the foreign
corporations exploiting and despoiling our dear lands!
They pit Lumads against Lumads, by arming them as paramilitaries
to kill their own kin and neighbors!
The Government and the Soldiers who are the enforcers of the law
are the most barbarous violators of the very laws they made !
This Government which has neglected its duty for our education
is in fact the very one that ordered the soldiers to dissemble
the schools we have built with our own efforts and energy
and the assistance of the NGOs who sympathized with us!
They closed down our schools and have used them as barracks
while they ruthlessly violate with impunity our human rights!
Our beloved Holy Father Pope Francis!
We have come to you on this frightening period
of our lives and existence as Indigenous Peoples!
We tightly embrace you to ask for succor!
We entreat you and beg your loving heart!
That you may advise President Noynoy Aquino
to stop his senseless abuse of us and of Mother Nature!
That he send away the Foreign Capitalists who have
devastated the environment and our tribal world!
That he command his soldiers to return to their barracks
and order them never to come back to our place!
That he prohibit the exploitation of our Ancestral Domains
That he respect, if he is indeed a true Christian, our human rights!
And dismantle his Oplan Bayanihan which is a deceitful program
that is the source of all troubles and discord among
the peoples and communities in the countryside!
In supplication, we ask you Beloved Pope Francis!
In merciful kindness give due course to our prayer!
We manifest our sincerest solidarity with you!—you
with your wisdom and loving mercy as Shepherd
of all Christian peoples under the Catholic Church—
that you may become the Channel of our prayer
to MAGBABAYA, Supreme Deity of all the deities—
that He shower the entire Filipino nation, especially
the Indigenous Peoples in the countryside with the
shining light of genuine Peace, Justice and Progress!
You, Beloved Father Pope Francis, have the capacity
to abate the bestial acts of inhumanity against us Indigenous Peoples!
Thank you very much for your solidarity!
KALUMARAN KUSOG SA KATAWHANG LUMAD SA MINDANAO
Matanom Monico Cayog (Bagobo)
Norma Capuyan (Bagobo)
Dulphing B. Ogan (Blaan)
Jomorito Guaynon (Higaonon)
Deputy Secretary General
Lorna Mora (Blaan)
Genasque Enriquez (Manobo)
*Uranda is a traditional Lumad chant/lyric-poem