Listen to stories of indigenous people, Thomasians urged

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Thomasians immerse with members of the Lumad community as part of the annual "Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya," a month-long caravan to assert the rights of the indigenous people at the UST Central Seminary Gym last Sept. 11. Photo by Michael Angelo M. Reyes

UNIVERSITY officials urged Thomasians to hear the stories of struggle of national minorities as 50 Lumad delegates arrived in UST on Sept. 11 for the annual “Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya,” a people’s caravan to assert the rights of indigenous people.

Representatives of the Lumad, the non-Muslim indiegenous people of Mindanao, entered the Arch of the Centuries Monday morning and celebrated a solidarity night at the UST Central Seminary Gym with Thomasian student leaders.

UST Rector Fr. Herminio Dagohoy, O.P. said he approved the request for UST to host the Lakbayan, for Thomasians to be able to understand their struggle for security and self-determination in their ancestral lands.

“[W]e need to hear those stories from the people who have actually gone through a long struggle. We have to learn from them,” Dagohoy said in an interview with the Varsitarian last Sept. 8.

Jong Monzon, secretary general of Pasaka, a confederation of Lumad organizations in southern Mindanao, cited the continuous “paramilitary attacks” and human rights violations in Mindanao.

“[Gusto naming] ipaalam sa mga kabataan at sa lahat ng andito `yung tunay na kalagayan namin…dahil hanggang ngayon patuloy talaga `yung human rights violations,” Monzon said.

Vice Rector for Religious Affairs Fr. Pablo Tiong, O.P., together with UST Central Seminary Rector Fr. Quirico Pedregosa, O.P., led the program to welcome the Lumad at Plaza Mayor.

UST Simbahayan Director Mark Anthony Abenir said Thomasians should understand the struggles of the Lumad to keep their ancestral domain from the encroachment end environmental destruction.

“Bilang mga Katoliko, dapat hindi tayo maging bingi at bulag sa kanilang pangangailangan… [we should] see and hear the stories [of the Lumads] first hand [at] kung ano ba ang nangyayari sa Mindanao,” Abenir told the Varsitarian in an interview.

Seminarian Louis Opina, president of the UST Philosophy Students’ Forum, said people should fight for the Lumad through concrete actions.

“Ipaglaban natin ang Lumad hindi lamang sa mga konsepto kundi bilang tao at kapatid,” Opina said during the solidarity night.

The group will camp at the Central Seminary Gym from Sept. 11 to 21 as part of the month-long Lakbayan.

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