KASAMA Vol. 16 No. 2 / April-May-June 2002 / Solidarity Philippines Australia Network

Mindanao is a cultural tapestry. It is home to 18 Lumad tribes, 13 ethnic-linguistic Moro tribes and 64 settler groups who have lived in the island for over a century already. Mindanao is an island of peoples with diverse ethnic backgrounds and cultural differences.

But for people to coexist in an island, they have to recognise these differences. It takes recognition of such diversity to pave the way for respect. Such acceptance would strengthen the distinctiveness as a people and as well preserve the respective cultural identities of Lumads, Moros and settlers.

Peace can be achieved if people were able to experience and maintain their wholeness as human beings. Peace is felt if human dignity is preserved. This can only be possible if human rights are recognized, respected and defended at all times. Peace will remain elusive if justice is not fully rendered. Human rights then should be treated as an integral component of peace.

The struggle for self determination as espoused by peoples in Mindanao has been a protracted one - in various forms and levels - from the mountains, to the streets and to the cold halls of the congress.

The right to choose and decide what is best as a people is a sacred right. The deprivation of it would render a subservient people with no political will; with no determination to chart their own lives.

Mindanao Tripeople's Caucus, 2001

Related Articles