Exactly a week ago today, the Sumilao farmers made a final push from their camp in Caritas in Pandacan to San Carlos Seminary in Guadalupe, Makati. They brought with them not banners that proclaimed the calls the bore for the last 12 years but calls for other landless farmers who remain struggling for their land. In their final walk in Manila to sign the Memorandum of Agreement with San Miguel Corporation, the Sumilao farmers echoed the cries of their fellow farmers calling for justice.
The walk to San Carlos Seminary was a walk of triumph, the triumph of sacrifice and perseverance, the triumph of solidarity, the triumph of Daviid over the giant Goliath. This walk was the culmination of tens if not hundreds of thousands of steps the Sumilao farmers took to make their plight too scandalous to be ignored. In the end they were triumphant.
San Miguel Corporation said it was their commitment to “corporate social responsibility” that made March 29 possible. Malakanyang claimed that it the Arroyo administration’s commitment to social justice that made March 29 possible. We all know that both SMC anD GMA were pushed to a corner and the MOA signing last March 29 was but a fait accompli for both. The sacrifices of the Sumilao farmers and the rightness and justness of their cause that awakened the hearts of thousands including church people and ordinary citizens left SMC and GMA with no choice but to go for a settlement.
Last Sunday, the Sumilao farmers went home. They made a final walk into the land that they can now call their own. They broke the barb wires that for decades kept them away from their land. The rubicon was crossed. Shouts and tears of joy erupted. Families were reunited. The Sumilao farmers were finally HOME.
I am blessed to have shared their journey.