Finally, the brave Sumilao farmers have arrived in our nation’s capital and have begun the second phase of their noble and epic struggle for justice. The return of the lands that was taken away from them by the greedy land-owning elite and capitalists in this country.
Ever since I heard about their plight and their resolve in marching to Malacanang all the way from Sumilao, Bukidnon – some 1,700 km – on foot, I cannot help but feel the urge to call out in support and if only I can, join in their march as well. An alumni of De La Salle University – Dasmarinas and a good friend of mine, once sent me an SMS message last month that among the marching farmers is the father of a fellow DLSU-D Lasallian, which means there’s more than enough reason why we Lasallians from DLSU-D and the entire Lasallian Family in the Philippines for that matter, should do something to aid and support the oppressed yet fighting farmers from Sumilao.
Unfortunately, and please someone in the know correct me, I haven’t heard of a single word or effort from any sector of the Lasallian community that supports the Sumilao farmers in their struggle. Save perhaps the silent whispers and short mentions of this issue during the meetings of DLSU-D’s University Student Council, of which a planned advocacy activity is in place once the revision of the USC Constitution is done.
What’s even more surprising is that the other school, the one in Loyola Heights has taken concrete and meaningful steps in support of the Sumilao farmers last Wednesday, December 5 in which they welcomed the marching Sumilao farmers into the Loyola Schools campus, and celebrated Mass led by Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales in honor of them.
Ateneo President, Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, SJ even led the Ateneo community in signing a petition in support and solidarity of the farmers from Sumilao. Such act of love, solidarity and justice is to be lauded and praised, and more so, should be emulated even expanded upon.
By now it is obvious that I have some complaints about the apparent silence or lack of action by Lasallians on this issue, especially in light of a little-known fact mentioned a while ago that there’s a direct link between the Sumilao farmers and the Lasallian community, DLSU-D in particular because one of the Sumilao farmers is the father of La Salle student.
With due respect and in the spirit of being fair, not to mention being called as more biased to the Ateneans, the Lasallian community has not been blind and silent when it comes to the recent developments in our social realities. In fact, the La Salle Provincialate, has released a statement with regards to the recent takeover of the Hotel Peninsula by Sen Trillanes that renews their calls to a changes in our government, public institutions and society it self.
Well and good.
However, I believe there are plenty more to be done. The struggle against the corrupt and oppressive Arroyo regime is a noble and an awesome task, more so it is a responsibility, but it is not the only struggle we Lasallians, and the Filipino people, must take up and fight till the end. There are many more struggles and issues that must be faced and addressed. The struggle of the Sumilao farmers is another that is more than worth the effort, time and resources to pursue and achieve victory for.
In less than three days, the world will once more commemorate the International Day of Human Rights, and in that occasion, the Sumilao farmers will march towards Malacanang and send a clear message to this government; “Let justice be served! Let our inalienable rights be protected and promoted! Return the lands to the Sumilao farmers!”
My wish, my prayer, my call is simple; that on International Human Rights day and the days after that, we move to do something profound, concrete, meaningful and effective that will support the cause of the Sumilao farmers. That after their cause has been won, we move on and help out the others who are crying, suffering and yearning for justice and the protection and promotion of their rights so that their lives will be lived with full meaning and fruition.
Fellow Lasallians, I only ask that we become true Lasallians, living out the Lasallian values that we cherish and value so much. Let us unite with others who join in this noble task regardless of school or color, for our cause is but one: that justice be served, peace be attained and our dear country move forward to sustainable growth and development.
We do this today, and our sons and daughters will be proud of us and of their race and identity. It will inspire them to emulate us and fight to preserve and develop what we will gain.
We do this, the whole world will once more look at us Filipinos and treat us as an equal in the family of nations.
We fail, we only have ourselves to blame, and brutal hell to pay for.
*Image by asianfarmers