‘SLOWLY, BUT SURELY’
Returning to Manila, where there were flush toilets and a Jollibee outlet every couple of blocks, I began to feel far removed from the life I had witnessed in Dibut.
While battling city traffic on my way to the airport, I asked my driver, Lorence, what he knew about indigenous peoples and the Build, Build, Build programme.
His reply was diplomatic but telling: “(Indigenous peoples) have simple lives. But change is the only permanence in this world, so whether you like it or not, it’s happening.”
Although he is not familiar with Dibut or the Dumagat, he is aware of the history of land grabbing in Boracay. He is confident that the new administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, whom he supports, will address the native people’s concerns.
“For them to get better pay, to have a better life … to have some opportunities to become successful, that’s the Build, Build, Build project,” he said.
This is not a strange sentiment to some of Dibut’s younger residents, Marilyn and Jefferey shared. Many among them want to work or study in the city.
Jefferey himself hopes that his three children, aged nine, eight and six, will attend college and that the young people of his district will pursue their ambitions.
But he also hopes they never forget where they came from or the need to protect their land and culture.