TEARS broke out Friday morning at the Xavier University (XU) mini theater as filmmaker Ditsi Carolino aired her documentaries that focused on the hard experiences that farmers from Sumilao, Bukidnon and Negros Oriental had in claiming ownership of the lands they tilled.
After viewing the film, a student from Liceo de Cagayan University felt frustrated with the government's laxity over the approval on the farmer's petition.
A student from XU said he also had mixed emotions while sharing his insights over the film.
Entitled "Lupang Hinarang," the documentaries featured the farmers' two-month journey from Sumilao town to Malacañang Palace sometime in 2007.
Using their bare feet, the farmer marched to Manila in the hope of personally meeting former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo so they could press their rights to the 114-hectare land located at Barangay San Vicente in Sumilao town.
Along the 1,700-kilometer road "march to justice," the farmers were greeted by the heat of the sun, the cold of the night and the raging rain.
"Bagekgek," the youngest farmer to march Malacañang, has to buy another pair of slippers when she reached Manila while a woman-farmer was treated with Betadine after her foot "exploded" over the hot road.
Reaching one of the towns in Bicol province, the farmers were greeted with a sticky-milky-road made of limestone, yet everybody watching the film could see no idea of retreat from the excited "tillers of another property," as the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) was quoted as saying.
However, along the roads of Bicol, some of the farmers who were into reflexology application by their companions just to regain new strength went weaker and weaker as they are about to enter Metro Manila.
Some of them who cannot walk anymore due to tiredness have to ride stretchers made of bamboo.
Before they got to the Palace, the farmers first dropped by at the DAR office to meet with Secretary Nasser Pangandaman.
However, Pangandaman went out of the office and entertained the farmers only late in the afternoon after some prominent personalities from the church, House of Congress and other party list groups were present during the organized picket.
Pangandaman was speechless with some of the points raised by the farmers.
The farmers continued the series of pickets even outside the Palace as they vowed not to go home without the documents to show their ownership over the 144 hectares land.
Weeks later, Arroyo sent Ignacio Bunye to the farmers' camps outside the Palace and brought the very inspiring message favorable to the farmers. San Miguel Corporation (SMC) not to pursue its plan of installing piggery plantation at the land.
Months after, "Ka Rene," the leader of the farmers who marched to Malacañang, was shot and killed, which the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Northern Mindanao has yet to establish even on the motive of the killing.
Alongside "Lupang Hinarang," another film was shown that also involved farmers from Negros Oriental who camped for 28 days in front of the DAR office, expressing their disgust over the "unfair" land reform program of the government as they also claimed ownership over a 122-hectare land from a hacienda at the said province.
As featured, some farmers of Negros Oriental have to die protecting their claimed lands, "for our children's bright future."
At least 18 farmers went on hunger strike and vowed sacrificing their lives just to get "what's due to us."
Headaches, numb legs, stomach pains, paling face, are among the bad effects of the sad experiences the farmers had during their stay at the pedestrian lanes across the DAR office.
With no food, the farmers depend on drinking at least three liters of water with salt just to preserve their strength.
While beside the road where the farmers slept, a dramatic recollection of what had transpired at the hacienda prior to their hunger strike in Manila was aired.
At the province, strikers were bullied by some men of the hacienda's owner, hurt and killed some of them.
One day, a "veteran" of initiating a hunger strike of the same cause, visited the farmers, released some psychological transfer of strength and there, the farmers gained more vigor especially when the veteran claimed he was once a victim of "Win-Win" solution, which he translated in Visayan language as "Daug-Daug."
After viewing the film, another student of XU could not help herself from condemning the government after the latter remained deaf over the fight of the farmers.
"Why did the government has to let the farmers suffer first before getting what's due to them, when in fact, they deserve it?" the student said.
The documentaries, which ran less than an hour, revealed that the government did not fail the farmers. Vague promises resulted to realities. (LSM)