Lumad Students Share Their Stories in a Psychosocial Session
Photo by Joanne Marie Bolo
A psychosocial session for Lumad students aged 10-15 years old was held on Sept. 20, 2018 at the Counseling and Development Testing Center at the Downtown Campus of the University of San Carlos.
Joisa Cesista, a volunteer for Save Our Schools Network Cebu, explained that the purpose of the counseling session was to allow the Lumad students to process the trauma inflicted by the attacks on Lumad schools in Mindanao. During the session, the students were asked to fill in an empty crest by drawing illustrations of what made them happy, what was important to them and which animal they felt represented them best. After which, they were asked to come up with a motto.
Most of the illustrations that stood for what was important to them were ones of their schools, books, or farms back home. As they interpreted their drawings, the students shared similar stories of killings and bombings in their schools and homes. Mimi, a volunteer teacher who had been with the Lumad students for a while, explained that even teachers are killed and continue to receive threats from soldiers in the area, further emphasizing how the military continues to deprive them of education to maintain control of their lands.
A student named Lino drew an eagle to represent his personality. When asked why, he stated that the eagle represents freedom and he too, wanted to be freed from the grasp of the mining corporations that were exploiting their ancestral lands. When asked what motto he came up with, he answered, “Magkaisa para makamit ang tunay na kapayapaan. [Unite to achieve lasting peace].”
The event was part of the Bakwit School movement in collaboration with Save Our Schools Network Cebu and the Supreme Student Council of USC. The mission of the Bakwit School movement is to educate people about the senseless killings and oppression faced by the Lumad communities in their own lands.
As a penultimate activity, students were asked to gather on the floor in a large circle to express gratitude for the things that they were most thankful for. One student explained that she was extremely grateful for the warm welcome that they were given despite the false depictions painted by the military about their marginalized community. Many also expressed their thanks for the church people and even the drivers who were responsible for transporting them all the way to Cebu. The students turned their traumatic encounters into shared positive experiences of healing and solidarity with their fellow Lumad brothers and sisters. Despite the status quo set against them, they remain hopeful that the future will one day be on their side.
Beaming, they sang songs to end the session and posed for photos afterward. One student conveyed, “Daghan kaayo mig nakatunan ninyo pero hinaot naa pud moy nakatunan namo. [We learned a lot from you, but hopefully, you learned something from us too].”