Leah Tumbalang

Leah Tumbalang was a Lumad woman of Mindanao in the Philippines. The story of Lumad Indigenous peoples encompasses generations of resistance to large-scale corporate mining, protection of ancestral domains, resources, culture, and the fight for the right to self-determination. 

Leah was a Lumad  leader as well as a leader of Kaugalingong Sistema Igpasasindog to Lumadnong Ogpaan (Kasilo), a Lumad and peasant organization advocating against the arrival of mining corporations in Bukidnon, Mindanao province. She was unwavering in her anti-mining activism, fervently campaigning against the devastating effects of mineral extraction on the environment and Indigenous peoples’ lands. Leah was also an organizer of the Bayan Muna party-list, a member of the leftist political party Makabayan.

For almost a decade, Leah (along with other members of Kasilo) had been receiving threats for co-leading opposition against the deployment of paramilitary groups believed to be supported by mining interests. 

“Being a Lumad leader in their community, she is at the forefront in fighting for their rights to ancestral land and self-determination.” - Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization

Being at the forefront of resistance also often means being a target of violence and impunity and Leah not only received numerous death threats, but was murdered on 23 August 2019 in Valencia City, Bukidnon. 

According to a Global Witness report, “the Philippines was the worst-affected country in sheer numbers” when it comes to murdered environmental activists in 2018. 

Read the Global Witness report, published July 2019

Find out more about Lumad women in the Philippines and their inter-generational struggle for self-determination