Lakan Sumulong

Dann Pantoja is beginning to use his Tagalog indigenous name -- Lakan Sumulong. This is a statement that our indigenous identities can be a redeeming factor in healing our 'being' (that is, who we are as a people); help symbolize our determination to contribute what we ought to be 'doing' as a nation (that is--active, non-violent, radical transformation); and, determine how we will prioritize what we will be 'having' (that is, inclusive growth and national development based on justice and peace). Asked what fuels his positive outlook in life: “It’s the influence of Jesus, a first century Palestinian carpenter who was executed by the imperial power of his time. He said: ‘Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.’ Jesus defied the ultimate negative factor in our cosmos--death.”

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Nov 30 2016



This afternoon, I celebrated the 153rd birthday of Gat Andres Bonifacio — the founder of our people’s revolution against the oppressive Spanish and American colonial rule. I walked with, and listened to, a major people’s movement who have been consistently fighting for the liberation of our country from US imperialist militarization, and from the exploitative presence of neo-liberal economic policies that corrupt our government, impoverish our people, and destroy our environment.

Although I do not agree with the use of armed struggle in advancing radical transformation, I love and respect these people who are sticking their necks out for the justice and peace that our people have been seeking for centuries.

One of the consistent cry of our people is genuine land reform:

Implement land reform as a matter of democratic right and social justice, as the foundation of economic development and as a method of liberating the landless tillers, releasing capital, promoting rural development and creating a domestic market.

The accumulated rent paid to the landlords for many decades by a majority of the people, the landless tillers, has long paid so many times over for the market value of the land. This social injustice must end. Through land reform, the landless tillers achieve economic, social, political and cultural liberation. Land reform brings about the substance of democracy among the peasant masses who comprise the majority of the people.

As a result of land reform, the domestic market is expanded because of the increased income of the peasants. Capital is released instantly for industrialization if half of the compensation to the landlords is in the form industrial bonds invested in certain industries. The peasants can assure the people of adequate food supply and raw materials for food, chemical and other types of manufacturing. Rural development can be achieved by developing cooperative and integrating agriculture, animal husbandry, fishery, forestry, handicrafts and rural industries.


How can we have genuine land reform when the institutional church owns most of the best arable lands and commercial real estate properties in this country, second only to the government? And most, if not all, of these lands were acquired through violent, oppressive colonial claims, misusing the name of Christ! This religious land grabbing was done using a religious and globally-propagated lie called The Doctrine of Discovery. This doctrine was the basis of the current legal framework of land ownership called The Regalian Doctrine.

And here we are, missionaries of the Gospel or the Good News, preaching the Peace of Christ among impoverished rural folks struggling to get rid of this oppressive land ownership perpetuated by local landlords — who are also the political dynasties in most provinces, who are also well-represented in our legislative processes and executive offices of the government.

It takes a lot of repentance and humility on our part as people of the church to really be consistent with the message of the Gospel. And yet, most church people still thinks that the church is solely for the purpose of saving souls from hell, for individualistic consumption of a certain ‘spiritual high’ needed after a hellish week at work, at school, at home, at play; for many of the church people, social concerns, like land ownership, will have to be left in the hands of the government, non-government organizations, and corporations.

I will persevere in leading our small organizations, PeaceBuilders Community and Coffee For Peace, to talk and walk our vision — Harmony with the Creator (spiritual transformation); Harmony with our Being (psycho-social transformation); Harmony with Others (socio-political transformation); and, Harmony with the Creation (economic-ecological transformation).

This, for us, is Good News.

Peace is Gospel.


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Nov 06 2016



I stand with the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island at the Standing Rock. (Photo by Hufftington Post)

As I worship the Great Creator today, I’m praying for the Indigenous Peoples of the great Turtle Island (North America) who are being united now by the Great Spirit as they continue to struggle against the unjust and oppressive colonization of their ancestral domains by the United States of America. I highly respect the IPs of Turtle Island for choosing prayerful, spiritually energized, active non-violent approach in their centuries-long struggle.

mennonitebanner-standingrockMy spirit joins my fellow Mennonites who went to Standing Rock to stand with the peoples of the Turtle Island in defending their sacred land and water.  It was my fellow Mennonites who introduced me to the concept of the Doctrine of Discovery as a European Christian’s “violent history of land grabbing and genocide that was justified by patriotism and religion. This same theology formed an international legal structure that continues to dispossess Indigenous Peoples of their land.” Along with my Mennonite global community, I’m asking myself, as both a victim (Malay people colonized by Spain) and a beneficiary (Canadian citizen): “What does it mean to be a peacemaker today in a world where the present is defined by the violence of the past?”

We are also experiencing the same unjust and oppressive presence of the USA in our beautiful islands (which the colonizers named after the Spanish king, Philip; thus, Philippines). I identify with the suffering of the original peoples of Turtle Island. The Americans killed hundreds of thousands of my people too.

And now, our islands are still being exploited and militarized by USA to protect their masters — the greedy corporations who destroy our land through mining. We have been sold out by our oligarch politicians to the USA through onerous foreign policy–specifically by signing the manipulative, war-mongering deals such as the Enhanced Defense Cooperative Agreement (EDCA) and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).

My supplication before the Creator is that, our people and our government would be awakened from our colonial mindset and set ourselves free from American manipulative presence — through their war-oriented religion, through their militarized relief and development activities, and through their political-economic manipulations. I pray that our people and our government would be courageous enough to scrap the Enhanced Defense Cooperative Agreement (EDCA) and the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the USA. May our people finally liberate ourselves and our land from the exploitative and imperialist presence of the US in these rich and beautiful islands.

And likewise, may the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island finally liberate themselves from the colonial oppression of the USA starting with the current united, multi-tribal protection of their sacred land and water at the Standing Rock. The Great Spirit empowers the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island! The Lord of History is on the side of the Indigenous Peoples of Mother Earth!



Stand with Standing Rock:
Written by Anita Amstutz

As Mennonites, many who have been a people of the land, we understand the gift of creation and see the powers arrayed against our community’s clean air, water and soil today. We call upon all people of all faiths to take a stand, speak out, and walk with those who are who “standing in the way” of the ongoing desecration of the earth and her peoples.

Today, Indigenous people are the ones leading us in nonviolent action and prayer, calling us all to protect the sacred trust of water. The Standing Rock Sioux Nation (Oceti Sakowin) of North Dakota have chosen to reclaim their sacred burial sites and ancestral homeland next to the Missouri River. It was given to them in the U.S. Treaty of 1851, but revoked by our state and federal governments. A private corporation is seeking to construct an oil pipeline on this land without an agreement from the Standing Rock Nation. The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) would carry billions of gallons of oil from the North Dakota Bakken oil fields through farmlands, run under the Missouri river in two places, and would cross rural communities and sensitive water and wildlife habitat. It is the Standing Rock Sioux’s and many rural communities’ only source of water. As the Standing Rock Nation has reminded all of us, water is a sacred trust: Mni Wiconi or “Water is life.”

The pipeline is a violation of sovereign rights, human rights and the rights of nature. As Christians, we know that right livelihood requires care for people and God’s creation first and foremost. To this end, we call upon all our leaders and the people of Jesus’ way to stand with land-based people in this struggle happening now for land and water sovereignty and human rights through practices of prayer, presence and offerings toward public defense:

I. Prayer

Congregational prayer: Invite your congregations to surround and encompass the people holding nonviolent peaceful vigil at Standing Rock on the front lines every Sunday between now and Thanksgiving. We need “spiritual warriors” who can surround the people there in Divine love and light.Fast for a day: Invite friends and your community to a day of prayer and fasting on November 4, a day of action when 100 gathered clergy will hold a peaceful vigil with the people at Standing Rock. It is also a day of policy advocacy by a Mennonite faith-based delegation to Washington D.C. on behalf of the Miskitu people, whose lands are threatened in Nicaragua, and the Wayana people of Suriname.

II. Presence

Peaceful witness: If you are interested in being part of a Mennonite faith-based delegation to Standing Rock, please fill out this form at the Doctrine of Discovery Coalition’s website.There is also a clergy witnessorganized by the Episcopalian Church of North Dakota at Standing Rock on November 4.

III. Public defense funds

Funds are needed for the legal defense of nonviolent protestors who have been arrested and incarcerated. Support them here.


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Oct 30 2016


I’m happy that the current Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Ms. Gina Lopez, has been expressing his support to the plight of the Indigenous Peoples!

But here’s a higher reality of Hope: With or without the assurance of DENR, the Indigenous People’s inherent power will endure any attempt of eviction initiated by big corporations, military, police, and government agencies. The voices of their spiritual leaders are clear: The Creator, the Great Spirit, the Lord of History is on their side. With or without the government, with or without the non-government organizations, with or without the church organizations, the IPs will prevail.

We, who support them, can only walk with them at their invitation and by their permission. It’s their march. It’s their journey. It’s their destiny.

The more I listen to their spiritual leaders, the more I sense that the Mother Earth have called the IPs to be the healers of this sick world. The Age of the Indigenous Peoples is the New Healing Age.

It’s just a matter of time-event-people-nature harmonization.

May the Creator of all peoples be praised!




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Oct 26 2016



Long time ago, in another universe, I dreamed of the Filipino people getting closer to Asia. I grew up in an American-dominated religious community and I felt I needed to get to know the Asian in me. So, I went to the Asian Center at the University of the Philippines and completed a master’s degree in Asian Studies. My research interest was on Post-Mao China when Deng Xiaoping adopted a more pragmatic approach towards building the People’s Republic of China.

However, my family and I ended up living in Vancouver. We were immersed in a Chinese community and I studied TaiChi under a local ‘sifu’ (teacher). I took the discipline seriously and enjoyed harmonious connection with nature.

I continued searching for the Asian in me, philosophically and theologically, at the Vancouver School of Theology, University of British Columbia. I started integrating the Western and the Eastern aspects of my understanding of Reality.

With the new development happening in our foreign policy, I guess I have to review my Mandarin and update my academic interest on East Asian Studies, particularly China.

My youthful dream to become a part of a generation to reconnect our people to our Asian roots is still alive and kicking. And at 60, it seems I’ll have the opportunity to watch and see our people embrace our own history, minimizing, if not eliminating, the imposition of the American lenses through which we were trained to understand reality. For most of our people, this is like going through a withdrawal syndrome from a long addictive Western cultural and historical comfort zone. We will be facing much uncertainty and discomfort as we go back home to Asia.

So help us, Lord of History and God of Justice!


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Sep 28 2016



Tuesday, 27 September 2016. The All-Out-Peace network representatives had a meeting with Sec. Hernani Agsalud Braganza — panel member of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) supervising the Reciprocal Working Committee on Ceasefire). USec. Braganza was accompanied by Atty. Antonio Arellano (GRP panel member), Lt.Gen. Rey Leonardo Guerrero (Commanding Officer of the Eastern Mindanao Command, AFP), and Maj.Gen. Rafael Valencia (Commanding Officer, 10th Infantry Division, AFP). The meeting was about the civil society’s proposed ceasefire mechanism in the Peace Process between the GRP and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Earlier, representatives of various civil society organizations met to listen to each other and to strategize how CSOs might contribute towards an effective ceasefire mechanism on the ground. We reviewed our experience with the unarmed, civilian-based ceasefire-watch and monitoring mechanics in the conflict between the GRP and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The All Out Peace Network eventually submitted the following document to both the GRP and NDFP Peace Negotiating Panels.



Civil Society Statement to the Resumption of the GPH-NDFP Formal Talks
August 20, 2016

After a six-year impasse, the June meeting in Oslo signaled a renewed commitment and gave an overwhelming fresh mandate towards talking peace between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Communist party of the Philippines/New Peoples Army/National Democratic Front (NDFP).

And despite the aborted unilateral ceasefire declarations and the recent heated tussle of positions in social media by the principals, no one yet is throwing the proverbial ‘towel’ – in fact, formal talks will resume days from now with the released NDFP consultants joining the table.

Thus, we, from the civil society, fully support this dialogue momentum and appeal to both parties in conflict to stay the course in recalibrating the talks. And the ‘litmus test’ at the moment is putting into effect the ‘ceasefire imperative’.

We then collectively declare the following principles and perspectives :

  • That ceasefire is a crucial step to provide a ‘breathing space’ so that negotiations can proceed to discuss the other substantive agenda in the political settlement, while other attendant issues as a result of the armed conflict can now fully be addressed such as internal displacement and rehabilitation of conflict affected areas;
  • That the peace advocates and international actors who also form part of the peace constituency will be able to do peacebuilding and conflict prevention when guided by a stable ceasefire agreement. We believe that an international third party will lend credence to the process, and guarantee security of the survivors and communities-at-risk;
  • That the counter insurgency program of the government and the military for many years, focused on the indigenous communities. In the same vein, the communist revolution has also been indigenized. The armed conflict virtually turned their ancestral domains as staging ground with IPs as ‘victims of war and violence’. The ‘tribal defense system’ was corrupted as manifested by forced displacements and recruitment by either army or NPA as auxiliary force, intelligence asset or trail guide;
  • That the IPs are at the core in the armed conflict but they still remain ‘invisible’ in the peace process. Hence, their voice needs to be heard, and their presence needs to be felt to meaningfully participate in realizing the change agenda.

A key civil society agenda is the continuing call for inclusivity and community participation in the peace process. Therefore, we respectfully submit the following recommendations for your consideration:

1.  MOBILIZE support towards a more sustainable, jointly-declared ceasefire in the long-run. In the immediate term, panels should clarify the modalities of an “interim ceasefire agreement”.The ceasefire should be community-based and respects existing governance and leadership structures for it to be locally owned. Civil society monitoring will draw mandate from the voices, issues and needs of civilians (non-combatants) and amplify other protection issues in the ceasefire milieu;

2. ADDRESS the issue on ‘representation’ and participation (in terms of concept and process) in the talksespecially for the civil society, IPs and other vulnerable sectors including women and children. While in the midst of an armed conflict situation, we appeal for the full enforcement of civilian protection, recognition of the IP rights over their ancestral domains, and the promotion of “better, protected communities”;

3. URGE the OPAPP, GPH and NDFP panels to institutionalize public participation processesin building consensus around the substantive agenda. We are only able to broaden the peace constituency when the Civilian Agenda is consistently integrated and mechanisms for civilian engagement are made accessible.

4. INTEGRATE a Dialogue Spacein engaging the horizontal and vertical dimensions of conflict in both formal and informal peace processes. Promote a “healing process” that should start in the conflict-affected communities and ancestral domains with the end view of ‘restoring the relationships’ damaged by war;

5. RECOGNIZE the IP participation in the peace process and support their symbolic call for an “IP-Declared Community-based Ceasefire” in relation to the armed conflict between the government and the CPP/NDF/NPA, with the following elements:

  • Declare all Ancestral Domains, Lumad communities outside of ADs, and adjacent areas, as peace (de-militarized) zones. These can be translated into the following possible conditions : cessation of armed hostilities, cease recruitment of IPs by the state, non-state armed actors, and demilitarization/repositioning of armed actors/pull out of armed presence in the ADs and near civilian population;
  • Address the crisis on extra-judicial killings (EJKs) especially being inflicted against Lumad leaders and guarantee the safety and security of those IPs who are already under surveillance by, and those in the Order of Battle (O.B.) of, both the New Peoples Army and Armed Forced of the Philippines;
  • Develop an “indigenized” ceasefire monitoring wherein IPs act as their own ‘monitors’in their ADs, settle conflict and manage security issues by themselves. That all ceasefire modalities and implementing mechanisms of the GPH-NDFP should recognize the IP cultural processes and the tribal justice system.
  • Create a parallel Lumad-lead task force for the safe return and rehabilitation of indigenous IDPcommunities in affected areas, while bearing in mind to strengthen the governance structure of the IPs and integrate the indigenous perspectives in the recovery and development programs.
  • Support the proposition of an IP Peace Table (IP peace process)as the main vehicle in realizing all these recommendations and key platform for the meaningful participation of IPs in the peace process.

We believe that legitimacy is forged from below.  Hence, we, from the civil society and our respective community partners in the conflict-affected communities, will continue to accompany the peace process – in both its high and ebb tides – towards sustaining peace and transforming the future.



The All-Out-Peace Network is being coordinated by the Initiatives for International Dialogue. We, at PeaceBuilders Community, thank Gus Miclat and Lyndee Prieto for their leadership in this endeavor.




News story referring to this photo:



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Sep 06 2016



02 September 2016, around 2200H Philippine Time. An improvised explosive device (IED) exploded in Davao City that killed 14 and injured 67.  The Abu Sayyaf Group claimed the responsibility.

At that exact moment, my sister Edna, her business partner Mary, along with Joji and I were having an informal business meeting at home regarding the opening of Coffee For Peace Bistro — the second shop of Coffee For Peace, Inc. (CFPI).

We received a call from my son, Byron, informing us of a big blast two blocks away from the apartment where he lives. I change from my pajama to my field work clothes and went straight to the site of the bomb explosion to document it as part of the commitment of PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI) to contribute to the information and communication technology resources to the Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Network in the Philippines. Here was the video report I immediately dispatched to our constituencies:

On Sunday evening, two nights after the blast, our company of 6 representing the staff and management of PBCI and CFPI went back to the Roxas Night Market and joined many of our fellow Davao City residents —

  • to spend some quiet moments in prayer, paying respects to those who lost their lives and sending positive energies to those who are still suffering from injuries — telling the terrorists that they failed in terrorizing us;
  • to eat dinner so that the street food vendors who survived the terrorists’ bomb would continue their livelihood and that business will go with better determination — telling the terrorists that they failed in terrorizing us;
  • to get massage in memory of those street massage attendants and clients who were killed in the blast, done by the cowardly act of the terrorists — telling the terrorists that they failed in terrorizing us.

CNN Philippines picked-up our story and broadcasted it nationwide:

The next day, more of our PBCI-CFPI came out and joined a greater number of our city’s residents to reassert our sense of freedom and security as peaceful and law-abiding citizens of this urban center. Here’s our 5-hour peaceful defiance of terror compressed in a 3-minute video:

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