October 14, 2016, Manila, the Philippines – A group of Adrian Dominican Sisters from the Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter, based in Pampanga, the Philippines, are joining a protest in solidarity with 3,000 indigenous peoples from their country.
The protest, Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya, is being conducted on behalf of the indigenous peoples and national minorities and calls on President Rodrigo Duterte to put an end to the plunder and exploitation of the native lands and territories that had been prevalent before he took office.
Participants are setting up camp in Palma Hall at the University of the Philippines October 13-28, 2016, to raise awareness of their plight. The activists’ ultimate goal is to reclaim self-determination and liberation for their people, who have historically been marginalized.
Sister Zenaida Nacpil, OP, Remedies Chapter Prioress, reported a positive beginning of the demonstration.
“Tribal leaders were welcomed at Palma Hall, University of the Philippines,” she wrote in an email. “Men and women came in their colorful native dress, cried out their lamentations due to the mining and land-grabbing problems on their ancestral lands perpetuated by foreign multinational corporations.” She said this plunder had been “allowed by the previous government leaders at the expense of the tribal peoples’ rights.”
The Remedies Chapter has sent contributions to help feed the participants, along with towels and blankets. In addition, several of the Sisters will attend the protest to show their solidarity with the native peoples.
The event began with a protest caravan from the major cities and provinces of the Mindanao Province October 8. The remaining itinerary includes an assembly of the Alliance of National Minorities; lobbying and dialogues at the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, the Department of Justice, the U.S. Embassy, mining companies, and the Philippine Stock Exchange; cultural celebrations; a street tribunal against U.S. imperialism; and a send-off Mass.
The indigenous and minority peoples make up 15 to 20 percent of the Philippine population and include 153 ethnolinguistic groups. These groups have historically struggled against the invading regimes of Spain and the United States, which still has a military presence in the Philippines. In 1987, when the Philippine Constitution was written, the indigenous peoples pushed for “genuine regional autonomy” but have still suffered “decades of national oppression which accounts for our continuing [marginalization].”
Before President Duterte took office about 100 days ago, the Philippine government “deployed thousands of the Armed Forces … in communities of the Moro [minorities] and indigenous peoples,” according to a concept paper issued for Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya. The soldiers “have inundated the countryside where large-scale mining corporations and big agribusiness plantations and other extractive industries enjoy the armed protection of the state at the expense of peoples’ rights to their lands and territories.”
While the government has declared a ceasefire in the war against the indigenous and minority peoples, internally displaced communities that return to their lands find their rebuilding efforts to be “tenuous” because of the continued presence of the soldiers.
Many of the minority and indigenous peoples see hope since President Duterte has taken office because of his pronouncements calling for righting the injustices they have endured for years.
For more information about the protest and the situation in the Philippines, click here.
Feature photo: Tribal leaders of the indigenous peoples of the Philippines gather at Palma Hall, the University of the Philippines, to make known their plight.
August 2, 2016, Mining, Pampanga, the Philippines – For years, the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ eco-farm in the village of Mining, Pampanga, has produced vegetables to improve the nutrition of the neighboring children. Now, the farm produces yet another crop – wind power to offer an alternative source of energy to the farm.
“The windmill is another way of implementing our [2016 General Chapter] Enactment on Care for the Earth, reducing our use of fossil fuel and using alternative energy like the wind,” said Sister Zenaida Nacpil, OP, Chapter Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Congregation’s Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter, based in the Philippines. “The windmill pumps water from a deep well, using wind energy to irrigate the farm.”
Sister Zenaida said the windmill is situated in the section of the two-hectare property used to cultivate vegetables, which help feed children and others in the village community. Families are able to buy the produce at a reduced price to improve their nutrition.
Installation of the windmill on the farm was inspired by Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Sí: On Care for our Common Home, and in response to Enactment Two of the Dominican Sisters’ 2016 General Chapter: “Recognizing the violence against Earth community that places our common home in dire jeopardy and intensifies the suffering of people on the margins, future generations and all creation, we will sacrifice to mitigate significantly our impact on climate change and ecological degradation.”
The windmill and the Eco-Farm serve the community of the Dominican School of Angeles City, which serves 250 children, kindergarten to 10th grade, who could not otherwise attend school. The school is located “in the rural area of Angeles City, where the poor children are more vulnerable to exploitation and human trafficking due to their economic situation and poverty,” Sister Zenaida said. She added that the school also lives out Enactment Three of General Chapter 2016, reaching out to people who are relegated to the margins.
The Remedies Mission Chapter was formerly a separate congregation of Dominican Sisters, based in the Archdiocese of San Fernando in the Philippines. The Remedies Congregation merged with the Adrian Dominican Sisters in November 2011 on the Feast of Our Lady of Remedies.