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Photographer's Note

This is part of a series of pictures of my stay in Miarayon, Bukidnon, Mindanao with the Tala-andig people: Miarayon and the Tala-andig

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The military have been present in the area for a few months now. Beyond problems with economy, education, gambling, and culture there is also the question of security.

The area was designated tribal land in 2003, but this doesn't mean that outside forces don't want pieces for themselves. In April last year there was an incursion by people claiming to have land rights. That escalated into an armed conflict involving knives and single shot arms on one side, vs automatic weapons and mortars on the other. Miarayon Centro was evacuated displacing over a thousand.

When it went to the courts hostilities relaxed and the outsiders left the area pending court action. In mid-March this year they won a temporary restraining order against the tribe coming into the disputed land (though land ownership has yet to be decided). They are expected to return to the area any day.

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About these soldiers though. This was taken at one of the two local kareoke joints where they were enjoying a brew or two. Nice guys (albeit nice guys with loaded guns). They offered to share drinks with me and we chatted about their previous missions throughout the country. They liked their current assignment here because it was quiet and uneventful.

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