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He worked his way up the ranks of the MNLF to the rank of
Mutia looks on the disused mill as a lesson learned.
"Development was Michael Kors Sutton Satchel Dark Dune
"We had no choice but to fight against the government, or our voice would not be heard.
"They don't try to do things for us, they trust us with the money, they trust us to do it ourselves, and we trust them," Michael Kors Wallet Baby Pink
at a very low level when we started," says Winston Camarinas of PDAP. "The four poorest provinces in the Philippines are in areas populated by Muslims. PDAP projects to date have involved 4,900 of the 50,000 MNLF combatants, providing them with new ways to make a living.
In his home in the MNLF settlement in Kulambugan, Mutia discusses the difficulty of the 50,000 MNLF soldiers making the transition from a rebel army to a settled group.
The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) commander in the province of Lanao del Norte, part of the Muslim Autonomous Region in Mindanao, doesn't trust the Philippine government. Since the MNLF signed a ceasefire with the government in 1996 leading to the creation of the autonomous region Mutia says the government has kept few of its promises, so the combatants are hanging on to their weapons.
KULAMBUGAN, PHILIPPINES Trust is not a word that passes easily through the lips of Dante Mutia.
But trust is a word that Mutia uses when he discusses the relationship of his people with the Philippine Development Assistance Program (PDAP) a local non government organization funded by the Canadian International Development Agency that works to improve the lives of
Nor does he trust international development agencies. At a recently established MNLF settlement at Kulambugan on the Mindanao coast where some of the soldiers have come down from the hills to settle he gives a tour of a large rice and corn mill built by aid agencies.
PDAP has stepped in, providing skills training and assistance in setting up economic structures for the 50,000 MNLF combatants and their families. There are co peratives, agricultural ventures, fish cages in all, 84 different projects.
"Before martial law, Muslims and Christians had very good Michael Kors Hamilton Large N/S Tote
relations," Mutia says. "All that changed with martial law. The Muslims were totally driven down. We heard of some massacres that happened to our Muslim brothers.
The United Nations Development Program started, then abandoned the project.
From fighters to farmers
In Kulambugan there is a co op run by the wives of MNLF
"We consider this our experience," he says. "Next time, we will not accept project proposals without consulting with the people."
"I joined the revolution in 1972, took training, and became a private."
soldiers. Up in the mountains, and Langkal, former fighters have become farmers, planting coconut trees and harvesting the coconut meat, or copra.
Slowly things are changing for the MNLF fighters. Corn trading and copra (dried coconut meat) trading are helping them make a living, and Michael Kors Hamilton Coral co ops are developing retail businesses in the settlements. Still, there is a long way to go.
PDAP is helping fighters settle down and become farmers.
brigadier general, and now also holds the position of state chairman in the MNLF's political wing.
Mutia grew up in an era when Muslims and Christians lived together peacefully in the southern Philippines. There was prejudice against the Moro minority (the name comes from the Spanish Moors, because of the Moros' Muslim faith and their dark skin compared with some Filipinos).
With PDAP, he says, the approach is different. "They allow us to choose what project or business we want to do. We are proud that, out of four projects by PDAP (in his province), three are making money now. They gave us the training to get started, and now we're helping ourselves."
The war years were tough, but the rebels became self sufficient in the hills of Mindanao. When a peace agreement was signed with the government in 1996, the fighters had a problem. "What could we do?" Mutia asks. "We were not qualified in employment we were soldiers."
USAid came in to finish the job, but the technologically complex mill can't operate at a rate that would make it economically feasible, so the gleaming equipment sits unused and gathering dust in a large steel shed.
Then martial law was declared in 1971, and President Ferdinand Marcos was looking for enemies to justify hanging on to power. Muslims in the military were massacred, villages were bombed, and the Moros were driven into the hills.
Mutia had a typical childhood, went to school, studied forestry at a state university, and never expected he would become a rebel soldier fighting in the hills.
"When we were in the mountains, we were fed by God," he says. "We were totally self reliant. Now we have to learn a new way."
former MNLF combatants and their families in sustainable ways.
Mutia looks back on the war years with some sentimentality.
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