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Tribute to LALA: A Lumad Activist, Artist, and Fighter

Kaerlan “Lala” Fanagel

By BEVERLY L. LONGID, National Convener, Katribu
September 18, 2023

It is with a heavy heart that we receive the news of the passing of our colleague and fellow Indigenous Peoples activist, artist, and fighter, Kaerlan “Lala” Fanagel.

On behalf of Katribu Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas, we extend our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the grieving family, relatives, tribe, and cherished friends who are mourning the loss of Kaerlan "Lala" Fanaguel. According to the military's report, Lala was among the six individuals killed during an encounter between the 47th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and the New People’s Army in Bilar, Bohol, last September 7.

We recognize and acknowledge that the right to self-determination and the pursuit of justice in the face of oppression are fundamental principles that guide the paths of many. We hold in high regard Lala's decision to join the New People’s Army (NPA). It was a conscientious, difficult, and mature choice made in response to the relentless threats and harassment he endured from the state. In his eyes, the conventional avenues for seeking justice appeared insufficient to address the escalating attacks on the Indigenous and Moro Peoples. We pay tribute to his unwavering dedication, particularly to the Lumad to which he belonged.

Lala, a native of Barangay Poblacion, Malapatan in Sarangani Province, had previously served as the secretary-general of PASAKA Pasakaday Salugpungan Kalimudan (Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao). He was also a former council member of Katribu, a national alliance of Indigenous Peoples organizations in the Philippines; Kalumaran Mindanao-wide organization of Lumad; and the Sandugo, an alliance uniting Moro and Indigenous Peoples organizations. In these roles, Lala diligently led various activities and protests both in Davao and Metro Manila, tirelessly working to shed light on the challenging circumstances faced by Indigenous Peoples in his region.

The escalating acts of plunder, militarization, bombings, enforced disappearances, criminalization, and the unjust labeling of Indigenous Peoples leaders and activists as terrorists have only fueled the flames of the ongoing armed conflict. In light of this, we fervently advocate for a sincere and collective effort to address the root causes of this conflict. It is our hope that, through such concerted endeavors, we may pave for a future that is more just and equitable future where the suffering endured by many may find its end.