By Leon Harrison
PERTH - Indigenous people from the Philippines met with Aboriginal people here on April 12 to discuss their shared struggle to regain their land.
Both Aboriginal people and the Aytas people have been denied control of their land following foreign invasions. The Aytas have retreated further and further into the Zambales Mountains near Manila, but last year even that refuge was denied them when the eruption of Mount Pinatubo made their land uninhabitable. Since then, the Aytas have been fighting for land elsewhere to enable them to continue their traditional culture and keep their families together.
Ben Jugatan and Palawig Cabalic came to Perth to thank Australians for aid given since the eruption. Aboriginal activist Robert Bropho met the Aytas at Lockridge campsite.
Speaking through an interpreter, Cabalic said, "I would like to tell people here to be in solidarity with Aboriginal people so all indigenous people can unite and get the return of their ancestral land".
"People like us have to get together and fight to regain our land", Bropho said. "This shows that indigenous people can come together. We're the last mob of people who are going to save our beginnings."
Jugatan and Cabalic went on to say that the volcano had done one good thing for them - freeing thousands of acres of their ancestral lands which were formerly occupied by the US Subic and Clark bases.