KASAMA Vol. 11 No. 3 / July-August-September 1997 / Solidarity Philippines Australia Network
The World of
Sultan Lubi Macapuno
A dramatisation of the Moro, Lumad and Filipino communities' struggle against Australian mining companies
Abba R. Kuaman
Abba Kuaman as Sultan Lubi Macapuno in Brisbane July 1997 (Photo: Mark Love)
ABBA KUAMAN is so very much identified with humour in theatre that one tends to ignore his serious involvement with peoples organisations. This started in 1984 when he was then an eager member of a Moro youth group.
Abbas involvement matured into the complex arena of development work that brought him to the various positions and responsibilities he held for the past ten years: Program Coordinator (Muslim-Christian Outreach Program 1985-1986), Executive Secretary (Moro Concern Center 1987-1988), Executive Director (Ummah Development Foundation 1989-1990), Executive Director (Pagsambok Development Foundation 1992-1995), Secretary General and spokesperson (Alyansa ng mga Moro na Makabangsa 1989-1991). He is currently Chairperson of Kilusan para sa Tunay na Autonomiya ng Bayan (since 1989), Board Chairperson of the Moro Human Rights Center (since 1991), Executive Council Member of Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (since 1996), and Advocacy Officer of TRICOM (since 1996).
His credentials as a stage actor date back to 1980 with the prestigious Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA).
Abba can be credited for revolutionising theatre in Mindanao with his popular shows. The first was mounted in 1982 with Joey Ayala as director, a psychological play "Di Manaw sa Guni-guni" wherein he portrayed a neurotic. The play commanded 97 performances in a national tour from 1982 to 1985. With "Di Manaw " Abba also established himself as a scriptwriter.
In 1984 he made his debut as SULTAN LUBI MACAPUNO, a character he created and which perhaps only he can impersonate.
This year from June 26 to August 9 Abba joined Willy Gulaya, Juanito Malid, Sr. Susan Bolanio, and Moses Havini as they toured Australia to tell their stories of conflict with Australian mining giant Western Mining Corporation.
In the personage of the Sultan, Abba brought the issues of his compatriots, the Blaan, to the public ear by employing his skills in the universally popular style of concert hall humour.
We rolled with laughter as he satirised "the Pilipitna Government", the reign of "former President Mocmoc", "Korasoy Okeno", "Fide-el Ramiyos" and "President Kilintoy"!
And, apart from these mere politicians, The World of Sultan Lubi Macapuno also featured the invisible, underrated, underestimated V.I.P. (Very Indigenous Person) the diwata (spirits) of the Lumad (meaning "born of the earth") of Mindanao.
"The Tampakan copper project will drive people from their land and destroy their way of life. This mining is about denying people their right to self determination. In the guise of development, Western Mining is using these people, their resources and their land, in its own interests." Abba Kuaman
Joining in the discussions after his performance, Abba shared his personal views:
On assimilation of Indigenous Peoples"The Government empowered agencies like OSCC [Office of Southern Cultural Communities] to accredit leadership so that the leaders are legally recognised by the government. But, there are two systems existing. There is the Indigenous system and there is the Government system, which is actually a Western system, and the Western system is more dominant than the Indigenous system. So even within an Indigenous community, you still have the barangay, and the barangay captain is more powerful than a datu in the Government system."
On militarisation "In the Philippines, militarisation is actually a philosophy of governance wherein the military is used by the state to protect its own interests at the expense of the people. So the Government is not about protecting the human rights of the people."
On economic growth "There was a claim by President Ramos that the Government had already reduced poverty by 40%, and thats not true. If you go to the Philippines right now, go to the rural areas, and youll see people who are landless, people who cannot even eat twice a day. Yes, there have been changes in the country the rich have become richer and the poor have become poorer."
On Western Mining Corporation Philippines "The Tampakan copper project will drive people from their land and destroy their way of life. This mining is about denying people their right to self determination. In the guise of development, Western Mining is using these people, their resources and their land, in its own interests."
Abba Kuamans performance was presented by Alayon Mindanao and the Uniting Church in Australia.