NOT once did I imagine myself in that little makeshift shack which could barely even accommodate my pet Koda, and the result is breathlessness.
I could not, for the life of me, imagine fitting into that tiny place I could not even call a house. But there I saw the new-born age-old baby wrapped in thin sheets with its mother, together with members of their community from Talaingod who are pitifully huddled in other makeshifts in their sanctuary.
Then again I searched my soul and asked myself, a million times or so why they should live this way, in squalor, and against their will, when they should have all the resources at their fingertips? I still ask even if the answer is yelling at me.
Asked whether they could imagine themselves “in” there, a group of parent-members of the Senior High School Parents Teachers’ Community Association of Assumption College of Davao (SHS-PTCA-ACD) shook their heads. The parents took the time out to see for themselves the situation of the Lumads who were driven out of their communities.
Some indigent scholars of the Assumption also came to visit and by doing so, they too realized that they are still far more fortunate than the Lumads in their sanctuary, thus, they too wanted to help ease their suffering by giving what little they could to the children.
Looking at a mother and her new-born, a parent quipped that even if she would just sit on it, the shack could easily fall as it is made of sticks and throw-away-things, and she felt compassion for the Lumads.
Another said that the Indigenous Peoples are the stewards and protectors of our environment because they consider the forests, the trees and all living things surrounding them sacred.
Now that they are being driven out of their abode, what will happen to the trees out there, she asked? The centuries-old trees have long gone due to the pillage of logging concessionaires who cash on in the precious resources we have that protects our mountains from coming down in landslides.
Without the Indigenous Peoples in their communities, there will be no one there to stop the loggers and big-time corporate miners from taking what they do not own. Yet, what could these gentle people do against the guns and goons in uniform who are protecting the interests of the moneyed few that wreaks havoc on the IPs existence?
Moreover, if people living in cities do not care about what happens to the Lumads, and are more inclined to prejudice and discrimination, then, we all are truly DOOMED.
These days we notice that when it rains, it easily floods.
Blame it on ourselves, often times we do. We brush aside all “our” uncaring attitudes in the city, especially those who mindlessly throw away trash wherever, not really thinking that it could come back in the form of long and seemingly endless traffic jam caused by flooded streets or landslides.
In our miserable state, we forgot that we still can do something with the mess we are in. We can work together and truly face our “demons” and exorcise them with good deeds such as being kind to each other and helping each other.
We can still reverse our worst situation if we start to care not only for our good but also for other people and the whole of our human community. It is never too late yet.
It’s just a matter of an imaginary action of putting ourselves on their stead, and find out if we can last even for a minute in their shaky hovel. Because if we continue to be indifferent to our brothers and sisters who are now suffering due to the greed of the power-hungry people, then we might as well brace ourselves for the worse to come, when the Lumads are no longer there and we are all left to fend for ourselves.
Or are we not already experiencing it now?