Nov 11 2016

LISTENING AND LEARNING FROM THE YAKAN PEOPLE OF BASILAN

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11 November 2016, Basilan Province.  I learned a lot listening from various community leaders and sectoral representatives about their perceptions and understanding of the conflicts in their respective communities. After sharing with them the ‘PIN-CAB Tools for Conflict Analysis’ for the past three consecutive afternoons, 10 groups were able to crystalize and communicate their understanding of the conflicting parties in their respective communities. They were able to articulate the issue-oriented factors (positions, interests, needs) and the relation-oriented factors (contexts, attitudes, behavior) involved in effective conflict analysis.

 

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The reasons why people do not always act in accord with their attitudes has been the focus of much social psychological research, as have the factors that account for why people change their attitudes and are persuaded by such influences as the media. There is strong support for the view that attitude-behavior consistency and persuasion cannot be well understood without reference to the wider social context in which we live. Although attitudes are held by individuals, they are social products to the extent that they are influenced by social norms and the expectations of others.

This book brings together an international group of researchers discussing private and public selves and their interaction through attitudes and behavior. The effects of the social context on attitude-behavior relations and persuasion is the central theme of this book, which — in its combination of theoretical exposition, critique, and empirical research — should be of interest to both basic and applied social psychologists.

 

The group that presented the best conflict analysis of their community were the representatives of an indigenous clan belonging to the Yakan tribe. They have a big ancestral land. An international organization offers ‘generous financial assistance’ to this indigenous family so a corporation can use their land for big agri-business operations. The family feels the organization is not fulfilling their end of the deal. This family seems to be more discerning and careful after this conflict transformation training and workshop. They feel burdened to share their discernment skills with other fellow indigenous, landed clans to protect their ancestral domain.

 

MY REFLECTION AFTER THE LISTENING SESSION

 

In strategic peacebuilding, social ethical discernment must precede foreign aid development that sounds too good to be true!

 

A giant international aid agency approaches a Yakan family in the high altitude, rich soil areas of Basilan. The indigenous family has a huge ancestral land. The aid agency is offering them financial assistance so the local family can plant a highly demanded agricultural product. The financial offer looks so generous!

 

For a third party listener like me who’s involved in coffee production and marketing, this sounds like a huge agricultural operations and the local family has no background about the complex value chain involved in this entrepreneurial proposition.

 

10 years ago, I was in this same island listening to a Yakan elder, a military general, and some fellow peacebuilding workers. I heard the same story — the indigenous people were harassed in the midst of development aggression and militarization.

 

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If history serves me right, this is how big foreign corporations get unjust control, and eventually unfair ownership, of native lands.

 

These kinds of onerous, land-based deals tend to lead into a land-based conflict. Then I remembered what I was reading from a book written by an American social ethics professor:

 

“I think no one knows what humanitarian intervention means. If I were a person who was non-American, I would think humanitarian intervention is just another name for United States imperialism.” ~Stanley Hauerwas

 

May the Creator give more wisdom and discernment to this local family and the other family networks involved in this foreign initiative.

 

 

The peace and reconciliation movement in Basilan has a life of its own because of a committed network that is rooted in, and indigenous to, this context.

 

I’m praying that the ancestral domain of the Yakan people will be protected through a social enterprise with the poor as primary stakeholders (SEPPS).

“SEPPS are social mission-driven wealth creating organizations that have a double or triple bottom line (social, financial, environmental), explicitly have as principal objective poverty reduction or alleviation of improving the quality of life of specfic segments of the poor, and have a distributive enterprise philosophy.” (M.L. Dacanay, “Social Enterprises and the Poor: Transforming Wealth,” p.27).

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://peacebuilderscommunity.org/2016/11/listening-and-learning-from-the-yakan-people-of-basilan/

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