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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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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