Brgy. Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya – “This is a dance of our lives,” said Myrna Duyan, a Tuwali indigenous woman from Brgy. Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya.
Manang Myrna was one of the more than 100 indigenous women and women rights advocates who danced as a protest action to the continuing mining operations of the Australian company OceanaGold Philippines, Inc (OGPI) in Brgy. Didipio. “Tayaw” is a Tuwali dance representing unity and power to face any threat to their community. The Tuwali women danced at the barricade that the community has set up several months ago, to prevent the entry of mining equipment. The 25-year mining permit of OGPI has expired last June 20, 2019.
“What we are fighting for is our life and our children’s future. Mining has destroyed our way of living. They have destroyed our sources of food and water. To mark the International Women’s Day, we dance, we protest, and we say – no more mining. OGPI has to leave,” Manang Myrna said, speaking as the leader of the community organization, Bileg Dagiti Babbae (Power of Women).
The Tuwali women have led the movement against the destructive gold mining of OceanaGold Philippines Inc., (OGPI) for almost two decades. They now guard the picket-line in Sitio Verona, Brgy. Didipio where they maintain a round-the-clock schedule. The community has set up the barricade several months ago to prevent the entry of mining equipment as the 25-year mining permit of OGPI has expired last June 20, 2019. The women, armed only with placards and streamers bearing their calls to end mining, have successfully faced against ten-wheeler trucks and backhoes.
The “Tayaw” is a traditional Tuwali dance with three main movements – each move representing unity, power, and freedom. The women also held a “Gopa”, a Tuwali ceremonial chant that told the interwoven stories of their past and what they are fighting for to be their future. The Gopa told the women’s decades-long struggle against mining and told a story of a future where they are finally freed from it.
The Tuwali women were joined by support organizations such as LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights) and Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM). “Indigenous peoples understand what it’s like for their land to be stolen by greedy giant mining and agricultural companies. We women understand the indescribable pain when you witness your land be destroyed and poisoned, the land where you come from – the land where you grow food,” said Mary Ann Forton, a member of LILAK and an Iraynon Bukidnon indigenous women from Antique. “As indigenous women, we are one with the Tuwali women in this fight for the land and against mining.”
According to Judy Afan Pasimio of LILAK, joining the action of the Tuwali women for Women’s Day is staying true to its origin. “The International Women’s Day has its roots from the march of thousands of women to demand their right to vote. More than a hundred years later and women are still fighting for their rights. It is important that we continue to strengthen the women’s movements as we fight for our rights and freedoms. On this day, we join the Tuwali women in their fight for their land and their life against OceanaGold.”
“We call on DENR to cancel the mining permit of OGPI. They must never be granted another renewal of their mining license; else we allow another 25 years of destruction and violations of human and environmental rights. Enough is enough,” said Caryl Pillora of ATM.
The dance protest action was led by the Bileg Dagiti Babbae, joined in by Didipio Earth Savers Multi-purpose Association Inc., (DESAMA), LILAK, ATM and Samahang Pangkarapatan ng Katutubong Magsasaka at Manggagawa Inc. (SAPAKMMI).
For more information, please contact:
judy afan pasimio – 09175268341
Shar Balagtas – 09771966122
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