Affirming the Relationship between Faith and IP Culture

The team had a wonderful time celebrating the Allaw ng Lumad (Indigenous Peoples' Sunday) with community partners in Kilalag, Malita, Davao del Sur in the Philippines. Within the Philippine Catholic Church, the Allaw is an annual celebration of the Indigenous peoples. It is a day that commemorates the strong commitment of the Church in supporting IPs in their struggle for justice and self-determination.

Matet Gonzalo (far left), one of our community partners shares during the Allaw:
"We are blessed because in these lands that we live in, many practices are embedded in each one of us. Like our rituals, stories are unfolded in our dalangan (chanting) and ubaten (epic) and expressed in our songs and dances. All of these is part of our being Tagakolu and has molded us into what we are now. This is the essence of our being Tagakolu."

Sunggud to Kamanga

Last January 16-18, 2016, iEmergence was invited to witness an annual cultural gathering of the Ata tribe called “Sunggud to Kamanga” by the tribal leaders and elders in Paquibato District, Davao City.

The whole Ata community in Paquibato gathered around the panubaran, their place of worship and prayer, in Sitio Pigdalahan. Datu Duyan led the “panubad-tubad” or prayer that was offered to the Creator. They believe that their lands were entrusted to them by Creator and it is their task to take care of these lands.

Every first quarter of the year, it is tradition for the tribe to hold this ritual to bless their farm tools and materials in preparation for the planting season, and to welcome a bountiful first harvest.

After the ritual, men, women, youth and children took part in dancing, playing the “bangkakaw”, an Ata traditional musical instrument, and feasted in a banquet prepared by everyone in the community.

Ubun na Kettal

In the first week of December 2015, Indigenous youth leaders from the Tagakolu tribe in Malita gathered together to participate in a leadership training and evaluation activity. Fifty-three youths from the two pilot areas participated in the workshops and discussion sessions from December 5 to 7.

The workshops included a story-telling activity where an elder from the tribe shared their traditional Creation story, and the youth retold and mastered the story using their own language and understanding. The young leaders also took the time to look back at the past activities in 2015. They shared their reflections and learning from the activities such as pawa, conversations on traditional birthing, and their involvement in the Allaw ng Lumad. Much of what was shared centered on how many of them were able to overcome their lack of confidence in expressing their being Tagakolu especially with those who are non-Indigenous, and growing deeper in their rootedness in their traditions.

As a culminating activity, the youth together with the MATAMIS staff and priests, re-baptized the IYL program to "Ubun na Kettal" which literally means "cultivating culture" in Tagakolu. The renaming was the community's way of affirming their sense of ownership of the program. As one youth shared, "Ubun na Kettal" is pivotal because it recognizes my role as Indigneous youth in reclaiming our culture and bearing it for the generations to come." Another youth also expressed joy in the new name saying, "The term is powerful as it encapsulates the message that I have a stake in taking care our way of life."