By Pet Melliza
Over a thousand converged at the Calinog Campus of the W. Visayas State University October 28, 2011 for the General Assembly of the Tumandok, the indigenous people of Panay Island.
Calinog town is 55 kilometers northwest of Iloilo City.
The gathering kicked off with a parade at the town center. The shouted for the return of their ancestral domain, the highland along the triboundary of Aklan, Iloilo and Capiz provinces. Some 35,000 of that has been declared military reserve of the Army by Pres. Diosdado Macapagal in 1962.
The assembly ends October 30.
Except for Negritos, different ethno-linguistic groups in the Philippines — Visayans, Tagalogs, Moros, Lumads (of Mindanao), the indigenous peoples of the Cordilleras–have communalities. They share the same racial root — Malayo-Indonesian; and the same linguistic origin — Malayo-Polynesian.
The “squaterization” of the Tumandok.
In 1962, a certain Diosdado Macapagal, father of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the alleged president of the republic from 2001 through 2010, decreed that 37,000 hectares of mountain lands along the border of Iloilo, Capiz and Aklan, as “military reservation”.
Among the “whereases” of the executive order was that the area was uninhabited by humans. That reminds us of existentialist thinker Jean Paul Sartre, in one of his poignant remark on colonialism and imperialism, to paraphrase him, that Europe had 50 million humans and 30 million blacks, colored rather.
Macapagal the elder did not see humans in the land that he sliced off exclusively for the military.