National minorities and self determination

Photos by Mark Ambay III


Jong Monzon is a Manobo Lumad man from Boston, Davao Oriental. His father, Leudenio Monzon, was killed by suspected military agents, prompting Jong and his family to flee their ancestral lands. Jong has not been able to return to Boston since his father’s death.


Datu Tungig is a Manobo Lumad from Talaingod, Davao del Norte. In 2010 military forces and paramilitary agents in their employ started harassing Talaingod Manobo leaders, accusing them of being subversives and supporters of the New People’s Army. Indigenous schools set up by the non-govetrnment organization Salugpungan were closed down by the government, leaving indigenous Manobo children without any schools to further their education. The Talaingod Manobo were forcibly displaced in 2014 due to intense militarization of their ancestral lands.


Students from an indigenous school run by Salugpungan in Talaingod have a light moment before returning to their duties during the Lakbayan. Because government has so far failed to provide basic social services to the Lumad and other indigenous peoples, the Talaingod Manobo turned to Salugpungan so their children can go to school. The government, however, has closed down several of these indigenous schools, endangering the right to education of indigenous youth. Maui, the Manobo youth standing with his fist raised, would later on be abducted and tortured by paramilitary forces under the Alamara.


The Mangyans of Mindoro, including this Mangyan man, continue to fight against development aggression in Mindoro.


An indigenous man from Southern Luzon.


A Lumad woman from Mindanao.



This young man is a Dumagat from southern Luzon. His father was an indigenous rights activist who was killed by suspected military agents, forcing him and his brothers to go into hiding.


A young Ayta girl.


A Lumad man pays no heed to police lines that say “do not cross.”



The Lumad man to the right’s name is Datu Gimbal, a Manobo leader from Talaingod. Upon returning home from the Lakbayan, his whole barangay experienced a diarrhea epidemic. Although diarrhea is supposedly not a fatal sickness, lack of medical facilities and medicine during an epidemic can lead to disastrous, even fatal, results. Datu Gimbal, along with several other adults and Lumad children, died during that epidemic in December 2016.


Bai Ali Indayla is a Moro woman leader from Mindanao. The Moro peoples have been victims of state repression since the Spaniards invaded the Philippines up until now. Tens of thousands of Moro people have been masscared by State military forces. Examples include the Bud Badjao and Bud Dajo massacre, when American military killed more than 3000 Moro people combined, most of them women, children and old people. The killings of Moro peoples by government forces continue up to this day.



A Moro woman and a Manobo Lumad man.


Michelle Campos has joined the Lakbayan twice. her father, Lumad leader Dionel Campos, were murdered along with two others by paramilitary forces in Lianga. The massacre resulted in over 2000 Lumad being displaced from their ancestral lands and the closing down of an indigenous schools run by ALCADEV.


Indigenous women are often at the forefront in the fight for self determination. It is also women who have to bear the effects of human rights vioaltions inflicted on their communities. The woman in the left is a B’laan from Far Southern Mindanao while the woman on the right is a Subanen from Western Mindanao.


Indigenous and Moro peoples during the Lakbayan called for an end to American control over the Philippines, as they believe that imperialism plays a role in the corporate plunder and intensified miliatarization of their ancestral lands.


Lumad schools are indigenous schools set up by non-government organizations upon the resquest for assistance of Lumad groups in Mindanao. Many of these schools, however, have been forcibly shut down time and again by the government, endangering the Lumad children’s right to education.


Lumad women at the forefront.


In July 2016, while Datu Jimboy Mandaguit (right) was in Manila, paramilitaty forces rained down bullets on his people during a wedding held in their community in Bukidnon. The resulted in the death of a pregnant Lumad woman as well as severe injuries to several others, most of them children.


A Moro sultan decries continuing political repression of the Moro peoples by the government.


Bai Bibyaon Bigkay (far right) is a woman indigenous leader from the Manobo Lumad people of Talaingod. For decades she has led her people in the struggle for self determination. She has also time and again received death threats from government agents and paramilitary forces, which she simply shrugs off as part of her job as a leader.


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