All That Fits: Learning and unlearning


Heidelberg, from Udo’s kitchen table—From the time of publishing I have completed my visit to partners and networks in Germany.

I write this nontheless with pre-occupation from our Ompong-battered region like everyone far from home and family. I am relieved to know that family and colleagues are alright. You cannot do more than hope and pray for everyone’s safety and for the typhoon to move away quickly and dissolve in the ocean. This morning I learned that many are still missing, many were buried under landslides, properties are destroyed, and so on, and so forth. But communities with different institutions including the people’s movement are also responding to the situation at different levels, even with the distressing situation. Kasiyana.


Post-Copenhagen Notes

If I have forgotten to write about our encounter with students from Copenhagen University (KU) from two weeks ago—I am impressed at their awareness of world events and the urgent situation of indigenous peoples in the Philippines. I shared the afternoon of September 6 with some 40 students from KU’s College of Science, with UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples Rights and former CPA chair Victoria Tauli Corpuz, Adam Kuleit Ole Mwarabu of Parakuiyo Pastoralists Indigenous Community Development Organisation (PAICODEO), Rodion Sulyandziga of the Center for support of indigenous peoples of the North\Russian Indigenous Training Center (CSIPN/RITC) and Dr. Ida Theilade from KU’s Department of Food and Resource Economics.

The question of the day is the role of academia to defend indigenous peoples’ rights. Firstly, the dialogue itself was a start. I hope this will be a continuity between KU with the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) and possiby other institutions. Secondly, because most of the students and faculty present belonged to the Department/College of Science, they can develop apps to help in the monitoring of indigenous peoples’ resources and issues (such as logging). Before leaving KU some of the students spoke with us and the possibility of pursuing their degree programs in relations to indigenous peoples’ rights and international development. I think this is one of the important take-aways.

Before leaving for Berlin we had the chance to meet with our kababayan, mostly from Central Luzon and the Visayas in Copenhagen, much thanks to Migrante-Denmark. Our get-together was hosted by International Forum, and for this I am grateful. In the Filipino tradition of salo-salo, everyone brought something for sharing—food, drinks and coffee was on the house. Mothers came with their toddlers. It was a conversation on the national situation and its impact to indigenous peoples—and still in the Filipino tradition of getting together, it was both dialogue and discourse for many imparted their opinions while some threw in questions.


I was foremost thankful for the warm welcome of the Filipino Community Church in Bayernallee, Berlin. Much thanks to Padi Jun de Ocampo who did only welcome Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) and the newly-established Gabriela-Germany, but who also enriched the discussion on human rights violations against indigenous peoples asserting self-determination, from his own experience as a young priest in Abra, during the Cellophil Struggle. Finally, adda nasabat ko nga taga Cordi (he hails from La Paz), including a young lady from Quezon Hill, Baguio City (sorry ading, nalipatak ti nagan mo! Umay ka latta pumasyar idiay CPA in November nu agawid ka)

I am indebted for the openness of our kababayan to hear of the stories of our struggling people back in the homefront. They recognise the historical role of indigenous peoples in environmental defense, and the need to defend us as we face various forms of human rights violations. Some of them relate to the short-lived positive prospects with Gina Lopez was given DENR secretary post, in relation to the mining issues. They are in agreement that the situation back home must be changed.

Lastly, the meeting with Fossil Free Berlin was unforgettable. For me, the main take-away is knowing that in our struggle for indigenous peoples’ rights, we are not alone. They could not believe, how and why, the State armed forces bomb indigenous communities, using phosphorous bombs at that. Some of them realised the need to look at advocacy in a wider context, such as indigenous peoples’ rights. That when one advocates for installation of more wind turbines as an alternative energy source, one should think where and how the metals being used were mined.

Lastly, for the Surface James Balao campaign and international solidarity for people’s rights in the Philippines, salute and much thanks to the German Filipino Friendship (GFF) and Monday Demonstration. Agbiag! #


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