ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 25 June) — Troopers from the 53rd Infantry (Matapat) Battalion have started their studies on Subanen language and culture to enhance their skills and capability in communicating with the Lumad or Indigenous Peoples of Zamboanga del Sur.
“We have a special group tasked to learn the language and culture of the Subanens as part of our community engagement. When we arrived here in Guipos, for example, there is a gap in language or in communicating,” said Lt Col Jo-ar Herrera, 53IB commanding officer.
The lecture, conducted by Alelie Grace Dawang-Lingating, aimed to break language and cultural barriers and help the troops understand the Lumad’s history, culture and traditions.
Herrera said this will eventually help the soldiers understand issues and concerns in Lumad communities as “part of the winning the peace and development in the remote areas as they are the most vulnerable sector.”
The Subanen, or people of the river, inhabit the Zamboanga Peninsula and Misamis Occidental. A survey conducted in the past decade put their number at around 148,000 in Zamboanga del Sur alone.
They are vulnerable to recruitment to or attack by the New People’s Army as they live in the hinterlands, Herrera said.
“They are the least served by government as they live the farthest. They are underserved, and palaging marginalized,” he added. (Frencie Carreon/MindaNews)