HomeThe Journal of Historyvol. 28-29 no. 1-2 (1984)

Land Conflict and Peasant Unrest at Central Mindanao University, 1946-1974

Mardonio M. Lao

Discipline: History, Philippine History



In the late 19605 and in the early 1970s, student demonstrations were among the things that characterized the Philippines. The student unrest that swept the country during those years were peculiar sights in almost all campuses of colleges and universities, both public and private, throughout the archipelago. Such national ferment permeated the quiet and secluded campus of a state institution of higher learning-Central Mindanao University (MCU). It intruded into the otherwise tranquil life of the university population and, in no small measure, obstructed the operation of the university administration. However, if viewed in the national context, the student demonstration in that state university may be said normal being perhaps the vogue of the time among the students in the country.

What may be viewed as an abnormal and a seemingly so serious incident that caught the attention of the university administration, the local and the national government, was the entrance of about 500 bolo - armed peasants into the university reservation in October 1971, that over-shadowed the threat and the danger posed by the student unrest on the CMU campus.

Why this peasant unrest? It is the quest for the answer of this question that gives conception to and the final birth in the idea of writing this paper. Specifically, the paper will deal on the following points: (1) the issues involved in the peasant unrest at CMU, (2) the response of the government, and (3) the life of the peasant after the unrest.

It is the intention of this brief essay to illustrate that the peasant unrest at CMU was basically rooted in the peasant's desire to regain their ancestral lands which were included in the CMU reservation. It will, therefore, show that the land conflict that culminated in the October peasant agitation can be traced back to the 1946 when, in that year, the site of the school was transferred to Musuan, Maramag, Bukidnon. The plight of the peasants was elevated to the appropriate pedestal of the government, but it took the October 1971 peasant unrest to erupt before the government could take final actions on the issue.