Members of the Lumad community who were invited at the University of the Philippines Fair this year got laughed at by some attendees when one of them went onstage to talk.
The annual week-long UP Fair with the theme “Rak N Rally” brought in some representatives of the Lumad community as part of the university’s advocacy to uphold their rights.
However, some attendees overheard others criticizing and poking fun at the two members, one man and one girl, who spoke in front of the audience onstage.
The negative remarks were directed at either the girl’s manner of speaking in Filipino to the advocacy itself.
so while this lumad girl was presenting her speech during #UPFairRoots, a bunch of guys started making comments abt it
Guy 1: “what the fuck”
Guy 2: “this is so fucking boring ugh”
Kaya nga Rak N Rally?? UP Fair supports an ADVOCACY, which ur fave bands support through the fair
— pam 🌸 (@notpamrodriguez) February 14, 2019
Alcadev, the Lumad-run school, also aired its ire, emphasizing that Filipino is not the girl’s native language.
“May pagkakataon na nagkakamali sa pagsalita ng Filipino dahil di naman ito ang wika namin,” Alcadev said.
“Hindi madali ang magbahagi ng naranasang pandarahas ng mga militar. Yung pakiramdam na paulit-ulit mong babalikan ang mga masasakit na alaala. Ang nais lang namin ay pakinggan nyo kami,” it added.
The UP Fair, which ran from February 12 to 16, involves raising awareness for five different social issues, which include the rights of the indigenous groups of Mindanao.
The event where the girl clad in tribal outfit spoke to the audience was during the Roots Music Festival on February 14, where the organizers campaigned for mental health.
Meanwhile, a man who was also introduced as an IP member spoke up against President Rodrigo Duterte’s implementation of martial in Mindanao on February 16.
#EndMartialLaw in Mindanao!
— UP Fair (@UP_Fair) February 16, 2019
Based on the event’s social media pages, Lumads even had a booth to sell and promote their handicrafts to the public.
— UP Fair (@UP_Fair) February 14, 2019
The festivals and the advocacy they headlined are as follows:
February 12: Tatsulok – National Sovereignty
February 13: Elements – Press Freedom
February 14: Roots – Mental Health
February 15: Cosmos – Gender Emancipation
February 16: REV – End Martial Law in Mindanao
Organizers of the university fair also featured well-known Filipino bands such as Rivermaya, Hale, I Belong to the Zoo, and Ben&Ben.
Lumads in schools in Manila
The country’s premier university has been helping out these IP’s since 2015 when hundreds of Lumad members traveled from Mindanao to UP Diliman grounds in a massive caravan called hashtag #Manilakbayan.
Lumad communities and schools are often accused of being members or enablers of communist rebels in Mindanao even if their people are also victims of local terrorism.
Lumads stayed in UP for a week to seek refuge from military harassment and discuss with UP scholars, professors and students on how to end violence of their communities.
In 2017, UP, the University of Santo Tomas and De La Salle University started establishing schools called “bakwit” schools for the children of Lumad evacuees whose families decided to stay in Manila for their safety.
In 2018, amid these efforts, former Communications Secretary Mocha Uson drew flak for staging a rally inside UP campus with members of a paramilitary group she passed as members of the IP themselves.