Lumads in Bakwit

Lumads in Bakwit

by Dr. Lorraine T. Badoy

- in Opinion, Philippines

Talking to a Lumad woman in an evacuation center (Bakwit) in Davao. They’d been living in this bakwit for over a year because they were driven away from their ancestral lands—their schools torched, their livelihoods destroyed. Disrupted, destroyed lives of such a gentle people. (They have, since then, gone back to their homes.)

This job, I tell has split my heart open. I get to see the worst inhumanity of Filipinos against Filipinos. And I get to see lives that glare with the full-on effects of corruption, incompetence, indifference. Lives that don’t even come close to what I thought ‘laylayan’ meant. Poverty for which I find no words for. Poverty that wrenches and enrages.

Poverty that gives me the gift of perspective and resolve.

So while we have the luxury of vicious online political debates and political one-upmanship, they have no such luxuries.

Their lives are stark hand-to-mouth existences and living with rats as big as cats where they sleep in bakwit centers and where their children run about barefooted and where they have no access to the most basic of things: clean water, where to empty their bowels, health care…

It has made me less circumspect with, as my son said, “the thousand critics with hateful words and online access but no plans of actually doing anything to help”.

This it hurts my insides. Heart, mind, soul. And yet what a privilege to sit with them and listen to them and to hear what they’ve been through—and because we have a Secretary whose life is about fighting for them and taking them out of the horrific trap of poverty they are in, what a joy to be part of giving them the fighting chance they need at much better, empowered lives.

Have a great day, guys. I won’t be able to chika with you or respond to your comments, ok?I will be all over the place.

Yakap you guys <3

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