Ancestral Land/Domain Watch (ALDAW), a local network of indigenous people struggling for the protection of their ancestral lands against large-scale corporations in the Philippines, has produced a short film entitled “Palawan: Our struggle for nature and culture”. The synopsis is as follows:
The struggle to save Palawan (known as the Philippines’ Last Frontier) is not only about saving trees and rare species. It is also about nourishing the Filipino cultural heritage, so powerfully represented by those indigenous communities that – after escaping Spanish and American colonization and while resisting the new ‘mining imperialism’ now – continue to represent the ‘living roots’ from which all Filipinos originate. According to the filmmakers, environmental plundering by mining companies is not only a crime against nature but it is also a crime against culture, a sort of genocide that annihilates the most profound roots of the Filipino’s history and ultimately plunders the cultural heritage of the whole nation. In this film, Kawali, the mythical ancestor depicted by Batak narrators, emphasises humility and trust towards the supernatural beings in charge of animals and plants. On the contrary, the attitude of Kawali’s brother-in-law comes to represent the epitome of inappropriate behaviour, such as the lack of respect towards the mystical keepers of animals and here, specifically, towards the “father of bees”, a relationship that contemporary Batak continues to restore though the lambay ceremony. The sudden switch between the narration of the Batak myth and the threats posed by mining companies serves to introduce the advocacy efforts of ALDAW.
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