August 2015

Cultural Regeneration through Community-based Documentation

“Stories are like the flowing river, it should be constant and life-giving”

This is how the participants of the Appreciative Inquiry Documentation Workshop likened their local stories. For them, stories are meant to be shared. Like the water that flows around their community, their stories should nourish not only them but also others through its “palna-u” (lesson/values).

The three-day workshop was conducted last July 10-12, 2015 by iEmergence in partnership with the Missionaries of Jesus in MATAMIS, Barangay Demoloc, Malita, Davao del Sur. It was participated by 8 community partners who were engaged in the process of discovery sessions and sharing of insights. In the end, the group were able to identify core elements of a good Tagakolu story which in turn allowed them to outline their own framework for community-based documentation.
In one of the discussions, Fr. Joey Evangelista shared that although photographs and images can remind people to appreciate the things around them, it should not replace the real image the photograph represents. It should serve as an inspiration to locals in preserving their cultural identity and natural resources.

The AI Documentation Workshop preps up our local partners as the Indigenous Youth Leadership program approaches the full implementation of its curriculum. Mildred Albaracin, one of the Mission Staff involved in the IYL program expressed that the workshop helped her understand and appreciate her role as a documenter in the program.
The overall output of the workshop can be seen in “Ya Kanaten Kasampetanen”. It is an initial documentation of the participant’s hopes and dreams to discover and share local stories. Stories that can inspire community members and the society at large to support the Tagakolu cause in reclaiming their indigenous knowledge, skills, and practices.

“The community leading the way”

Kharla, our staff, visited the communities of Kalatagan and Kangku in Malita last June 20 to 23. She met with Fr. Primo of the Missionaries of Jesus who is now based in Kalatagan. Although he is bringing with him a wealth of experience serving Muslim communities in Lanao del Sur, Fr. Primo Fragel is a humble man of faith who has a heart for Indigenous communities. It is his goal to learn first the language of the Tagakolu in order for him to better understand and find his place in the community.
The visit was also for us to meet with the elders in these communities as they prepare for the first activity of the first phase of the Indigenous Youth Leadership – Tagakolu curriculum, which is the “pawa” or planting ceremony. Many from the communities expressed their support to the activity: from the needed materials for the “dugsu” or ritual to the farm and seedlings of corn and upland rice. The active role the communities are taking part, not only in providing support but also in mentoring the tribal youth of their villages, is a testament to their ownership of the entire engagement.
We hope to continue through this path of helping the communities lead the way for their own development while utilizing the varied strengths and assets found within their very own lands.
Thank you once again for the support. MJ Fathers and Mission staff, you never cease to amaze us. More to come! All of us here are happy and motivated!

“Like a dying fire being ignited anew”

In a ceremony held last month, the elders of the Tagakolu tribe in Sitio Matamis in Malita, Philippines, symbolically acknowledged iEmergence as a co-worker of the community in creating spaces and pathways for Indigenous youth cultural learning and positive community development. The symbolic "dugsu" or ritual was most significant as it showed the deepening relationship of the team and the community. It served as the culmination of a series of meetings, workshops, and consultations with various members of the community and the Missionaries of Jesus Fathers and Mission Staff. We are continually grateful for the relationships being built and strengthened in the community, and for the personal connections created. One of the elders aptly said, "We are like a once dying fire that is now being ignited anew. But, we can only do this together as one community." Truly, great things can come from a collective struggle and a collective effort.

Discovering Together

Osmosis for the fifth time happened last April 8-15, 2015. Accompanied by their program head, four student volunteers from STREAMS - Xavier University (XU) in Cagayan de Oro City and 5 Indigenous youth leaders from the Ata tribe in the Paquibato District journeyed together to learn and live in Sitio Napusukan, a far-flung Ata community in Davao City. An Indigenous youth from the Mandaya tribe in Davao Oriental, who is volunteering with iEmergence, and a Colombian colleague, also joined the activity.

The community in Napusukan together with their tribal leaders, Datu Sagoksok and Datu Dalisay, welcomed us with warm hearts. For four nights, the host families opened their homes and allowed us to live with them and experience their way of life. Our time in Napusukan was greatly appreciated by the osmosers because their experiences in the community led them to understand the culture, traditions, beliefs, practices, skills and way of living of the Ata tribe. For the group from STREAMS – XU, as an education development program, the immersion contributed to them redefining how they will positively engage with Indigenous communities in their own areas.

For the Ata youth of our IYL (Indigenous Youth Leadership) program, osmosis became a venue for them to relearn or rediscover their own culture. Indigenous spirituality and leadership became the core of their discoveries in this osmosis.

Playing, fishing, planting, singing, playing traditional instruments, wonderful conversations, and community prayer were the key ways in which the group discovered things about the culture of the tribe, and recognized the value and uniqueness of their simple yet profound way of life.

After the community immersion, the group of osmosers together with the IYL shared their extraordinary experiences and discoveries through a two-day Appreciative Inquiry workshop. The process allowed them to share positive experiences while they were in the community and the creation of provocative statements and visions. These embody their dreams and hopes not only for their own groups but for their personal lives as well.

More stories from the osmosers themselves will be posted soon.

Thank you STREAMS XU-Pathways to Higher Education for journeying with iEmergence and the Indigenous communities we walk alongside with.

Tagakolu Curriculum Design Workshop

After several initial planning sessions and community visits, the team together with youth and elders from the community in Malita spent three days designing the IYL curriculum. This workshop aims to give the community the space to create a more detailed and tangible curriculum for the IYL program in the context of the consolidated dreams of the Tagakolu tribe in Malita. The group agreed to create a three-phased curriculum, which will serve as guide and framework for the Indigenous youth program in their community. Each phase will have a specific theme and time frame. They also developed their own description, aim, goal, process, time frame and intended results for the program.
The group also created a work plan based on the discoveries from the previous workshops and consultations with the youth, elders and the wider community. In particular, they determined the specific activities, objectives, setting (time and venue), and resources per component of learning that will be implemented throughout the program. The bulk of these were from the positive core developed from the series of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) workshops held since November of last year.

The elders reaffirmed their support for the IYL program by defining more concretely their role and responsibilities in the actual implementation of the program. It was encouraging to hear from them their conviction to become active culture bearers who will guide and mentor their youth to live out their culture and pass this on to the next generations.
Similar to past AI workshops, the group went through the AI process where the youth and elders, including the MJ Fathers and staff, told positive stories of cultural learning and leadership development. These stories became the foundation of the curriculum design.

In all of these, our relationship with the Missionaries of Jesus Fathers and Mission Staff has been an important part in realizing these efforts. We are grateful for their constant support and commitment towards positive development of the Tagakolu community.

Ata Youth Music Workshop

One of the desires of our Ata youth partners in the IYL program is to learn how to play their traditional musical instruments. More importantly, they intend to understand the sacred value of these traditional instruments and the significance of their own tribal music to their culture. To begin this learning journey, our Ata youth partners met with a collective of performing artists in the city called Kalumon Performing Ensemble last March 7. The group performs contemporary pieces of dance, song and play that celebrate the cultures of the Indigenous people in Mindanao. Mario “Mayong” Lim, who is the founder of the group, shared with the Ata youth his own story of growth as a learner and performer, and as a person who deeply appreciates the value and beauty of Indigenous cultures. Performing for him is not only to entertain but it is also to convey a meaningful and relevant message that resonates to all of society. He encouraged the Ata youth to strive to create more of their musical instruments, to continue learning about their culture, and to pass on this knowledge to the next generations, as song and dance are all part of one’s identity as Ata.

In a brief processing afterwards, the Ata youth shared their thoughts and appreciation for how Kalumon was formed and the Indigenous values it espouses. They also reiterated their desire to understand their tribal music and dance. Nelio, one of the youth shares, “I look forward to hearing from our elders about our own music as they have the wisdom and knowledge. I also acknowledge that I have the responsibility to pass this on to the next generation.” Ai-Ai also expressed her intention to continue enhancing her gift to do ulahing (chanting). One of the youth also shared how she appreciated the reason why the hole of the kuglung, a two-stringed instrument, is at the back of the instrument or close to the chest of the player. The hole is near the chest of the player because when one plays the kuglung, one expresses music directly from one's heart.The dialogue between the Ata youth and Kalumon was intended to provide a space for the youth to see how others (outside of their tribe) value Indigenous cultures and how music is part of their way of life. The conversation also paved the way for the groups to have a cross-cultural sharing of the different tribal music in Mindanao.