A Journey Through Contested Lands: Philippines

Chien-Chi Chang documents the ongoing attacks against the indigenous people of the southern Philippines islands of Mindanao, as told through the eyes of now-displaced survivors.

Mindanao is an area that's rich in natural resources: a 2006 memo by the U.S. embassy (and disseminated by Wikileaks) estimated its resources, namely natural gas and oil, could be worth upwards of $1 trillion. But Mindanao also has a history of violence and military abuse, particularly toward indigenous people, who have often been displaced by profit-hungry mining and logging companies. Most recently, the paramilitary group Magahat-Bagani has been accused of a series of murders and torture, allegedly intended to spark panic among those who refuse to give up their land. The Philippine military claims any killings are a result of inter-tribal wars; human rights groups around the world disagree. In this photo essay, Chien-Chi documents the hardships of displacement, particularly among indigenous women. 

This project is part of "Contested Lands," a collaboration between Pacific Standard, Magnum Photos, and the Pulitzer Center that sent six Magnum photographers to report on land rights issues from six countries around the globe. Visit our online curriculum for a lesson plan and full PDF of the magazine.

A Retreat From Massacre

The T'boli-Dulangan Manobo, an indigenous group in the Philippines, lived peacefully in the village of Sitio Datalbonglangon—until the country's armed forces showed up.