Mindanao lumads celebrate Earth Day with rituals

Posted By: Chris On:

CAGAYAN DE ORO City, April 14, 2011—Indigenous peoples (lumads) in Mindanao started their 5-day celebration of Earth Day yesterday with the ritual “pamalas” to ward off evil spirits from their land, which is being subjected to development aggression.

The lumads also performed the ritual “pangampo,” a worship and offering to the spirits using the produce of the land (chickens, rice and local wine) as a thanksgiving for the blessings Magbabaya (Almighty Father) graced them with.

After the “pangampo,” the lumads and invited guests then shared in the food (using the ritual chickens which were killed during the pamalas and offered to the spirits, together with the rice and local wine during the pangampo) in a ritual called “panampulot.”

These rituals were performed Thursday during the opening program of the lumads’ celebration of Earth Day to bring to everyone’s attention that their struggle for identity is closely tied to the land or ancestral domain.

In the ritual pamalas, the lumads killed three chickens colored white, red and black. The white chicken symbolized their thanksgiving to Magbabaya; the red symbolized their call to the spirits to guide the minds of their leaders to decide for their collective good; and the black chicken symbolized their petition to the spirits to cleanse the tribe as a whole and its members as individuals for the wrongs they have done.

Dulphing Ogan, the B’laan secretary-general of the Kusog sa Katawhang Lumad sa Mindanao (Kalumaran), a Mindanao-wide alliance of lumad groups, said that the lumads want development, but not the kind of development private companies and the government imposed on them.

Ogan, who came to Cagayan de Oro all the way from his hometown in Sarangani province to lend support to the effort of the Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization which organized the event, stressed that if other peoples celebrate Earth Day, more so the lumads because the earth is the foundation and essence of the lumad’s identity and culture.

“What the lumads want is development that centers on making the land productive for agriculture and not the kind of development pushed by the government that aggressively displaces us from their ancestral domain,” said Jomorito “Datu Inbanwag” Goaynon, the Higaonon chairperson of Kalumbay.

According to Ogan, the lumads’ fight for land is synonymous with their fight for their identity and culture and that this fight is now centered on three issues—yutang kabilin (ancestral land), yutang gibilin (land left-over by development), and yutang ibilin (land that will be passed on to the next lumad generations).

“But more than yutang kabilin or yutang gibilin, what we are now after is yutang ibilin,” he said, even as he disclosed the fears of many lumads that the present generation will no longer have any land to pass on to the next lumad generations if the alleged state-sponsored development aggression in lumad ancestral lands will not be stopped.

Thursday morning’s opening program of the 5-day lumad Earth Day celebration was held in Blue Waters resort in Sitio Taguanao, Barangay Macasandig, this city.

The site of the celebration was within the Huluga complex, which became controversial in early 2000 when Mayor Vicente Emano insisted on developing the area and constructing a bridge there despite widespread opposition because of the site’s historical significance to the city, it being the earliest known settlement of early Cagayanons as proven by anthropologists who recovered various pottery, coins, farming implements, knives, and even human remains of early Cagayanons in the various caves within the complex.

Thus, the lumad celebration of Earth Day within the Huluga complex was very timely and very significant because it also drew attention to the still unresolved “Huluga conflict.”

Other datus (tribal chieftains) who attended the celebration—Datu Mandayhon Mansagana (Talaandig tribe of Agusan del Sur), Datu Kasaluhan (Manobo tribe of Agusan del Sur), Edgardo “Datu Tawin-Tawin” Mambukon (Tigwahanon tribe of San Fernando, Bukidnon), and Peligrino “Datu Mansuwagan” Bulalahaw (Higaonon of Naawan, Misamis Oriental)—narrated how this so-called development aggression resulted to the violations of the lumads’ basic human rights as well as make their ancestral land fallow.

Datu Mansagana narrated in Talaandig dialect that was later translated to Cebuano by Datu Roger Planas, a Higaonon, how their land in Agusan del Sur once produced bountiful harvest of rice. But when the logging company came and later left after harvesting the forests, they could no longer make rice grow from their land because “Magbabaya was angry at us for not protecting the forest.”

Datu Kasaluhan also narrated that before a logging company came to their land in Agusan del Sur, their rice barn is full of rice and that harvests from previous seasons were not consumed.

“But after the coming of the logging firm, we were left without any produce that we could hardly buy even a single can of rice. When before we enjoyed the bounty of the land, now we are destitute. This is because Magababaya is angry,” he said. (Bong D. Fabe)


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