Cal-Nev Delegation Hears Stories of Persecution

July 27, 2009

During the pastoral and solidarity mission to the Philippines that is currently underway, members of the California-Nevada Annual Conference delegation have spent time at Harris Memorial College, passing out food to an indigenous group, the Dumagat people, and hearing their stories of hardship.


Harris Memorial College is a United Methodist-related school, established in 1903. Its Center for Community Development houses the Dumagat Program, an effort to reach out to the Dumagat people - an ancient tribe living in a rural region around the Laguna Bay, southeast of Manila.


In recent years the Armed Forces of the Philippines has accused the Dumagats and other indigenous peoples of being rebels, and has used that as justification to displace them from their ancestral homeland. The Dumagats' villages are under further threat from the Laiban Dam construction project - which would displace 10,000 families, lowland Filipino settlers as well as Dumagat.


Now a cultural minority, the Dumagats - who traditionally have depended on hunting, farming, and gathering crops for survival - simply are trying to preserve their lands and heritage, according to New World Outlook, the mission magazine of The United Methodist Church (May/June 2008).