This is not really about me, but about the people I meet, the places I visit and the stories I want to share.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Sumilao and San Miguel

144 hectares of land. 55 farmers. 1 700 kilometer-walk. 75 days.

The farmers of Sumilao, Bukidnon fighting for their ancestral land have gone a long way. They may be back in Bukidnon but their fight isn’t over yet.

When I marched with them in Agusan del Sur, I honestly thought it was a hopeless case. I mean, how can you win against a corporate giant under a presidency which is undoubtedly indebted not only to the military but to big businesses?

But the farmers’ sheer determination spelled the difference. The farmers started their march in October 10 last year with a few churches and non-government organizations supporting them. But throughout their march, they have gathered enough strength, from ordinary people in the countryside wishing them well to the Roman Catholic hierarchy with no less than Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales joining their cause.

The Cardinal said it all: “Kung mga tunay na Kristiyano ang mga taga-San Miguel, ibibigay na nila ang lupa. Yan ay kung tunay silang mga Kristiyano.” Maybe they should also be reminded that their company was named after a saint. But this is not to say that their fight doesn’t have any chance in court, it’s just that the legal processes may take years and it would have been better if the company gave up their claim to the land.

Well, it still remains to be seen if San Miguel people are true Christians. Or to be politically correct, even if they were Muslims, Jews, or simply put, if they believe in God and social justice, it wouldn’t be too tough a decision for them.

(Photo taken at the College of the Holy Spirit Chapel where the farmers stayed for two nights while they were in Manila)

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