MLD for AMIHAN Northern Mindanao Region
“I only wanted to put away the bolo that my son threw on the sand, but they misunderstood my gesture and handcuffed me,”said Adoracion Oraiz, the only woman who was jailed for allegedly (assaulting) the policemen who escorted the demolition team sent to their fishing community.
Adoracion, 64 years old, is the second oldest in the group of detainees – next only to her husband. She was bewildered when she learned of the charges against her. “Sure I also threw some sand on a police officer’s face but who wouldn’t? He was going up my son’s house,” she said. “Besides, his eyes were covered with sunglasses.”
Forty policemen, headed by Chief of Police Emmanuel Jaraula, accompanied the demolition team which arrived at the Poblacion of Gitagum, a coastal town in Misamis Oriental at 9:00 in the morning of May 26 to demolish residences in Purok 1 and Purok 3.On May 5 this year, the said demolition team notified the settlers to leave the place because Purok 1 was supposedly a private property owned by a certain Velasco and Purok 3 by Mela-or and Haag Corporation and FlorentinoMagsacay.About seven homes were demolished, including the home of Adoracion and her two sons’.
Born in the city of El Salvador, then a municipality, Adoracion Oraiz relocated to Opol when she married a fisherman. They had five children four of them male and only one was female.
Opol, the first municipality right after a major urban hub, Cagayan de Oro City, eventually became too crowded for the fisherfolks. “Fish was abundant back then,” Adoracion said. “But then, many fishing vessels bigger than ours came along. Competition over the fishes was already tough. And then a dock was put up in the municipality. All the catch from the neighboring municipalities were unloaded there. How could we survive?”
Knowing no other livelihood except fishing, she and her husband decided to leave their previous home to look for better conditions. And that was when they thought to settle in Gitagum – or just Tagum as how they would refer to their new residence. They knew of the place from previous fishing trips when they had to go as far as five municipalities away from their home to avoid the motorized boats of the other fishermen.
“When we first came to Tagum, my eldest child then having just stepped into his teens, we just slept on a mat laid on the beach,” Adoracion said, recalling their experience more than two decades ago. “In the morning, we would fold it up and put it aside along with our meager possessions. Then I would go to the center of the municipality to sell my husband’s catch.”
Gradually, they were able to set up a simple hut made of cheap wood and corrugated iron sheets. When her children married, they moved out of their house but set up similar shanties nearby. “We put up our homes on the beach – very near the water,” Adoracion explained. “The area was clearly public land and not owned by the present claimants who are now driving us away.”
AMIHAN Northern Mindanao , actively organizing women farmers and fisherfolks in the municipality of Gitagum, learned of their predicament barely a month ago. In a short time, the organization hosted exposure trips to the area for students who were interested to learn more about the life of a fishing community. Having just started their campaign to promote the community’s basic right to decent shelter, the news of the demolition came as an unexpected turnabout of events.
“We know that the women are twice more burdened in demolitions such as these,” said Ella Sequina of AMIHAN. “Their basic instinct is to make the situation easier for their children, for their grandchildren – for their entire family, even if they themselves have to sacrifice more.”
True enough, the pressing thoughts of Adoracion in the provincial jail was of her 3-year-old grandchild left to her by her son who got separated from his wife. “She wouldn’t eat if I am not with her,” she said, looking at the distant barbed wires. “And she cries at night when I’m not beside her.”
But still not losing hope, Adoracion brushed away her anxieties, believing that she would return to her community – albeit torn down and in shambles – and see her children and grandchildren again. And like the doting mother and loyal partner whose strength belies her years, she picked up the washed plates that she and her visitors had used and went back to her cell just as the jailguard rang the bell to signal the end of visiting period.
- Land converted for biofuels, farmers in Misamis Or Harassed
Bulatlat As the debate on biofuels and whether or not it is an effective alternative source of energy to mitigate the impact of climate change continues to rage, the effect of converting thousands...
- Massive relief efforts
Joseph SmookeThe Philippine Reporter Grassroots and international efforts based throughout North America are mobilizing a massive relief effort for the victims of tropical storm Sendong that hit...
- Priest blames mining company for family killing
UCANews Officials of Sagittarius Mines should be held liable for the military’s killing of a tribal family late last month, says an Italian missionary who has been working in Mindanao for four...
- Palm oil plantation grabs land, harasses farmers, indigenous peoples in Misamis Oriental
Janess Ann J. EllaoBulatlat CAGAYAN DE ORO, Misamis Oriental — In every community, the source of potable water is also their source of life. Thus, the palm oil plantation in Opol, Misamis...
- Green groups blame palm plantations
Forest clearings to produce palm oil seen cause of Mindanao flooding Germelina LacorteInquirer Mindanao Davao City - Palm oil plantations in Mindanao have been added to a growing list of factors to...