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Dats from Bukidnon: ‘Fight for holistic social justice’

The fight for LGBTQI Pride, said Dats Ventura, a lesbian Lumad leader (from the Manobo tribe) from Bukidnon in Northern Mindanao, cannot be – or should not be – segregated from the struggle for social justice.

Ang pinaka-importante… kahinanglan pakigbisugan ang yutang kabilin. Kay diha nagikan ang kinabuhi sa tanan. Ang yutang kabilin ay inahan sa tanan. Kay kung mawala ang yutang kabilin, mawala ang among pagka-LGBT. Dili mi maila. Gumikan sa akong pakigbisog sa yutang kabilin, naila ang among pagka-LGBT. Ang isyu sa yutang kabilin nakadikit sa isyu sa kabataan, sa kultura… sa LGBT. Diha mailhan ang LGBT sa yutang kabilin (The most important thing… is to fight for our ancestral land. Because life originates there. Our ancestral land is the Mother of all. If our ancestral land disappears, so will our LGBT identity. The issue of the ancestral land is connected with the issues of youth, of our culture… of LGBT people. LGBT indigenous people will be known because of our ancestral land),” Dats said to Outrage Magazine.

Her experience as a lesbian Lumad hasn’t always been easy.

Lisod dawaton sa among komunidad (ang LGBTQI) kay dili daw maayo sa tan-aw sa tawo kun labi na sa Guinoo – kana ang ilang giingon (It is hard for our community to accept LGBTQI people because they are dirt in the eyes of the people and of God – that’s what they say),” she said.

However, Dats does not let this discourage her.

Sa akoang baruganan, proud kaayo ko nga ingun-ani ang akoang pagkatawo… Ang Guinoo wala naga-tan-aw sa panggawas kundi sa pang-sulod. Ilabi na gyud kung ikaw usa ka ka-LGBT nga dako kaayo matabang sa imong komunidad (I am proud of who I am… God does not look at the outside/superficial but what’s inside. More particularly if you are a person who has done a lot for the people).”

When discussing mainstream LGBTQI issues, the particular concerns of Lumads who are also LGBTQI are not always included. Dats laments how LGBTQI people are often “gipasakitan” (made to suffer), including in schools, workplaces, et cetera.

And so Dats believes in a more holistic approach to the struggle for social justice.

In the case of Lumads, for instance – and in particular – “dili lang ang yutang kabilin ang ipaglaban kundili (nakadikit) kani sa pagkatawo (we don’t just fight for ancestral domain, but link this with the struggle for identity).”

As it is, “sa amo-a, daghan (LGBTQI people) – mga Lumad ug Kristiyano, pero talagsa lang (mag-express) nga LGBT (in our community, there are actually a number of LGBTQI people – whether Lumads or Christians, but self-expression is not that open).”

And so for Dats, there is a need for activities to teach them not to be ashamed of their identity, and that being LGBTQI can be used “para maka-ayo sa katilingban (for the good of mankind).”

This is why, for Dats: “Ang akong ika-sulti sa ilaha: Muduyog ta sa pakigbisog (I say to them: Join in the struggle for real liberation).”

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