The Lumad During Martial Law


The following are excerpts of a blog post by Al Raposas in the blog The Young Filipino Historian. The post is an attempt to trace the roots of the struggle of the Lumad people in Mindanao and what happened to them during the regime of Ferdinand Marcos.

The photos of the Lumad people from the recent #Manilakbayan are by Loi Manalansan and Bryan Gonzales. The painting above on the other hand is by Federico "BoyD" Dominguez and titled Talabok.

From Al Raposas, The Young Filipino Historian Blog:

Lumad is a Visayan (in particular, Cebuano) term which means “native” or “indigenous.” Lumad is a loose category referring to 18 Mindanao ethnic groups including Manobo, B’laan (Bilaan), Higaunon (Higaonon), Subanun (Subanen), Mamanwa (Mamaw), Bagobo, Mandaya (Mangwanga), and T’boli (Tagabili).

Although, only 15 of the 18 ethnic groups recognize their category as Lumad to distinguish themselves from the Muslim or Christian Mindanao peoples. The Lumad population had accounted for 7% of the total Mindanao population in 1975.

Lumad opposition mainly grew from two elements: the land and the water.

It was not only the Muslims who were affected by the mass migrations from Luzon and Visayas, which were even sponsored by the Philippine government. The Lumads, who had been traditionally occupying the land, had to confront land claims of both Christian migrants and the Moros. During the Marcos administration, most of the land had been concentrated on the few rich, and Christian, families of Mindanao favored by the government.

To mention a few, the Zamboanga-based Lorenzo-Lobregat family, with Eduardo Cojuangco and Juan Ponce Enrile, established control of the Mindanao coconut industry. They are also into the banana business, owning some 7,000 hectares of banana plantations. Another was the Floirendo family. They built the Tagum Agricultural Development Corporation (TADECO) in Davao, which would soon become the largest producer and exporter of bananas in the Philippines. The total area of plantations owned by the Floirendos was around 8,500 hectares.

Logging concessions were also given by the administration to favored corporations. By 1979, 5 million hectares (50,000 square kilometers) of land in Mindanao were covered by these concessions. That is, at a time when the available commercial forest area stood only at 3.92 million hectares. The area covered by logging concessions formed half of the entire Mindanao Island.


NAPOCOR pushed for the construction of seven dams that would form the Agus Power Plant Complex along the Agus River in Lanao. This began with the expansion of the Maria Cristina Hydroelectric Power Plant from 1967 to 1973. This would later be known as Agus VI. In 1975, construction of Agus II began. It was finished by 1979. Soon, Agus I, IV, and VII began to be constructed in that same year. Construction of Agus V began in 1980.


Conflict in the two aforementioned categories had threatened the Lumad ancestral domain. Lands that were heavily concentrated to affluent Christian families (cronies) had covered many, if not most, of these ancestral domains. The tendency of the dams to flood the surrounding lands also threatened the Lumad ancestral domain. Indeed, the Lumad regard ancestral land as vital to their identity and heritage. Also, the Lumad had expressed their economic dependence to the land.