Volume 10 Number 2, Second Quarter 2008

Description and context of the project

This project aims to capacitate and empower the Bukidnon Tribal Council and their members under the Daraghuyan Ancestral Domain Claim in Dalwangan, Malaybalay City, for them to undertake activities that will shape a better future for the tribe. Folk wisdom augmented by local knowledge and skills are designed to enhance the tribal leadership in traditional territories strongly held by the State (being a national park). Likewise, the project aims to reinforce multi-stakeholder park management wherein the members of the tribal councils and its communities are better equipped to address their socio-economic problems and at the same time, counter deprivation arising from policy limitations and current development practices which have overlooked culture as a facilitating factor for its realization.

More importantly, the Bukidnon indigenous peoples in Mt. Kitanglad can demonstrate effective ways to deal with the local government, business and private sectors, and the civil society due to their cultural norms and traditions that continue to guide their vision and relationship with the outside world. The tribe and other stakeholders are mandated to work harmoniously in the protected areas like Mt. Kitanglad—a national park which is highly valued as a sacred domain by its tribal constituents at the same time serving as a major watershed in the region and one of the few remaining intact forests in the country.

The project aims to demonstrate that development aspirations of the indigenous peoples can be harmonized with the needs of the modern world as long as it recognizes basic human rights and the limits of the natural environment. These constraints serve as challenge in working towards a sustainable economic and ecological framework in all natural resource base areas.

The objectives, strategy and approaches to be considered in the project are:

1) Daraghuyan ancestral domain sustainably managed by the tribal council employing participatory mechanisms both among its people as well with other stakeholders in the protected area.

2) Cultural energy and creativity through active, inspired collective leadership tapped as a means to reckon the future of the tribe

3) Biodiversity within the protected area is conserved and/or enhanced through a community forest management initiative and sustainable livelihood endeavors.

4) PA residents especially women and youths exercising responsible resource management over their areas in the pursuit of their ancestral domain management plan and properly coordinated and recognized by the government.

Expected outputs:

1) Set of tribal policies based on customary laws as validated through consensus

2) At least 80% of target participants attended trainings and other capability-building activities

3) Completion of the tulugan (tribal administration building), both of the structure and landscape

4) Generated more technical and financial support for the Mt. Kitanglad Cultural and Heritage Center and implementation of the ADSDPP

5) Extended educational assistance to at least 50 students

6) At least 40 mothers implemented Food Always In The Home program (home gardens) with a success rate of at least 60%

7) Agroforestry activities implemented in at least 10 hectares

8) Livelihood projects provided additional household incomes for PO members

9) IEC materials and comprehensive project documentation

Summary of key accomplishments

Oxfam Hong Kong’s assistance to the Daraghuyan Ancestral Domain claimants started in 2005. At that time the project focused on facilitating the CADT application of the Bukidnon tribe, and capability-building activities related to the claim. The second phase (2006-first quarter 2007) still focused on the processing of the claim, but it allotted some funds for community-based conservation activities and livelihood. Likewise, the third phase included allocations for conservation and livelihood as well as for additional works on the heritage center, health and nutrition activities focused on mothers and children, educational assistance, and IEC.

In other words, the project tried to integrate culture, wellbeing and conservation. Hence the accomplishments must be measured vis-à-vis these themes.

On culture. One of the significant accomplishments is the conduct of the perimeter survey of the ancestral domain area by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples. The survey implies that the NCIP will soon deliberate on the merits of the claim and subsequently issue the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title. As of this report, the map produced by NCIP has been validated in the presence of the claimants, KIN, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

KIN has also encouraged activities that deepen the tribe’s appreciation of its own culture. These include the revival of rituals, capability-building (e.g., strengthening of the council of elders), and documentation of customary law and practices. Likewise the construction of the tribal heritage center has strengthened tribal unity as well as restored ethnic pride and identity. The structure was mainly financed by the World Bank, but Oxfam Hong Kong allotted a portion of its fund for additional works and accessories.

On wellbeing and livelihoods. The community has enhanced their coffee production as a long-term economic activity by cultivating new areas and rejuvenating existing ones. KIN assisted by providing seedlings and organic inputs and by helping make a cost-return analysis which shows the profitability of growing coffee. Additional draft animals (two horses and one carabao) were also given during the third phase of the project. These have greatly helped in reducing the amount of time spent in doing farm work and the cost of hauling their produce to the buyers or markets.

The installation of the water system in Olanguhon is of great help as it enables the farmers to water their crops during the dry months aside from providing constant water supply to the heritage center.

A new undertaking that has obtained support from KIN’s network is the educational assistance program. In addition to the fund from OHK, individuals and groups have extended financial and material assistance. The program covers high school students and elementary pupils. Those who can least afford going to school are being prioritized. Aside from subsidizing the children’s school needs, the program includes tutorials in Math and English, which they consider to be the most difficult subjects, as well as sessions in personality development to help them cope with discrimination from their classmates and sometimes even teachers.

The program has increased the children’s interest to continue their studies and also encouraged the non-beneficiaries to go back to school. However, not all applicants to the program could be accommodated at present.

Capability-building in relation to livelihood is another area where the project invested considerable resources. Among the trainings held were: making handicraft, musical instruments and art works, contour farming, agroforestry and coffee production. Community members said these trainings enhanced their knowledge and increased their income. They explained they can now harvest more by applying their knowledge in contour farming and making use of organic fertilizer like compost. They have also learned how to diversify their crops and sell their produce at favorable prices.

On conservation. Community members have always been aware that their engagement in the project rests on their willingness to participate in conservation initiatives in Mt. Kitanglad. The benefits they get, mainly assistance in the processing of their ancestral domain claim and additional livelihood opportunities, are a quid pro quo for their commitment. They have fulfilled their part of the bargain by guarding the forest against timber poachers and illegal occupants. They have also undertaken conservation initiatives such as the tangkal (wildlife sanctuary) and bamboo rehabilitation along riverbanks.

Description of activities, strategies and outcomes/impact

1. Daraghuyan ancestral domain sustainably managed by the tribal council employing participatory mechanisms both among its people and with other stakeholders in the PA.

The activities under this objective focused on completing the requirements for the ancestral domain claim (i.e. perimeter survey), additional works on the tulugan (heritage center), and generating external support for its operations and plans. Part of the strategy for this is networking with private firms and local governments.

Members of the Daraghuyan claim initially conceived of the heritage center as a structure where they can gather and hold meetings and cultural events such as rituals. Along the process, however, of formulating their ADSDPP they realized that the structure could also serve as an eco-cultural tourism site. Thus they are planning to put physical improvements not just on the tulugan but also around its periphery. Among the planned improvements are housing units for tribal families and/or visitors.

The ADSDPP provides a participatory venue for the crafting of activities and policies. In addition, the leadership exercised by the council of elders ensures that such plans and policies conform to cultural norms and standards.

These have encouraged inactive members to participate anew in organizational endeavors. Everyone has come to realize his/her importance. They said these activities have helped preserve the unity of the tribe as exemplified during the construction of the tulugan and made them stronger in pursuing the claim. They, however, admitted that some members of the claimant clans were unable to attend meetings and other activities due to financial constraints. These are the members who live in areas outside of the ancestral domain.

2. Cultural energy and creativity through active, inspired collective leadership tapped as a means to reckon the future of the tribe.

The project seeks to strengthen community-based management of the park cum ancestral domain. On the part of the Daraghuyan community, it means asserting the role of traditional leadership as represented by the council of elders to ensure that government policies would not endanger the existence of the tribe. It also means proving the capacity and willingness of the tribe to govern their territory by, among others, documenting traditional practices and customary laws that contributed to conservation and harmony within the community, with other tribes and with outsiders.

The documentation of these practices and laws has aided the tribe in formulating policies that should be observed in implementing particular projects in their domain. For example, policies have been prescribed for sites proposed for eco-cultural tourism.

3. Biodiversity within the protected area is conserved and/or enhanced through a community forest management initiative and sustainable livelihood endeavors.

This part highlights the strategy of linking conservation to the economic uplift of Mt. Kitanglad’s communities. Some incentives need to be devised to encourage them to take part in forest protection and rehabilitation. These are in the form of livelihoods that do not result in extraction of forest resources, with the exception of, for example, honey. Making honey extraction a livelihood activity helps in forest conservation in that the honey gatherers themselves would strive to protect the particular trees where the beehives cling to and those trees that are the sources of nectar.

For this project, the community has opted for long-term endeavors such as coffee production and/or enhancement. It also aims to improve productivity by procuring additional draft animals, holding capability-building activities, and finding additional markets for their produce.

Based on the project M&E conducted in May, the respondents claimed their incomes have improved due to increased productivity. They explained they can now harvest more by applying their knowledge in contour farming and making use of organic fertilizer like compost. They have also learned how to diversify their crops and sell their produce at favorable prices. Moreover, the efforts of the community to develop their area have gained support from the city government. The city mayor has released P150,000 for their livelihood including the purchase of more draft animals.

4. PA residents especially women and youth exercising responsible resource management over their areas based on their ancestral domain management plan and properly coordinated and recognized by the government.

Activities under this objective are mainly new initiatives intended to improve health and home management among the Bukidnon households. For instance, the mothers’ class aimed to help the families attain better nutrition by teaching the mothers to prepare affordable yet nutritious food using fruits and vegetables that are available in their own farms or gardens. They were also taught how to prevent and treat common illnesses using herbals and Chinese massage, among others.

Likewise, the resource persons, all from the Committee of German Doctors in Valencia City, gave inputs on women’s and children’s rights, as well as skills training in making slippers and other handicrafts.

For the school-aged children and youth, the project extended educational assistance by subsidizing expenses related to their studies. They also availed of free tutorials in English and Math.

In addition, selected out-of-school youth underwent training to improve their handicrafts. The trainer, Talaandig artist Waway Saway, exposed them to an art exhibit in Davao City so that they could get some ideas on how to improve their product designs. Aside from the training and exposure the tribal artisans received a revolving capital for their products some of which have been sold to an outlet in Manila. They also said these have helped in promoting their culture to outsiders.

Problems and limitations encountered

A major problem experienced by the project has been the relative unpredictability on the part of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) in relation to the Daraghuyan claim. Ever since the filing of Daraghuyan’s CADT application, the agency has often sort of vacillated on how to treat it in relation to the opposition aired by the proponents of the unified claim for the whole Mt. Kitanglad. As of March 2008, the NCIP has completed the perimeter survey and map of the domain, but it is yet to deliberate on the claim, which is the last stage prior to the actual issuance of a title.

On the part of some beneficiaries, there is an observed tendency to rely completely on the project for their needs. This is most evident in the educational assistance program, which the students and parents thought would respond to all their school related needs. But it was explained to them that the program could only subsidize their studies and would last only for as long as there are resources from donors. In addition, more and more school-aged children have expressed their desire to be included in the program. However, only a limited number could be accommodated owing to scant resources. Accommodating all of them would sacrifice the needs of existing beneficiaries.

Linkages with government and other agencies

The community itself has availed of assistance from the local government through the office of the city mayor and city planning and development office. The city mayor decided to provide additional financial assistance upon seeing for himself the efforts of the community members to improve their economic condition.

Meanwhile, after the 2007 barangay elections relations between the community and the barangay government have vastly improved. This was not the case during the term of the previous barangay chair and council members, some of whom were opposed to the claim.

On the part of KIN it has maintained close working relations with the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) and the Protected Area Superintendent (PASu) even after the termination of the project which they co-implemented. This setup has facilitated the aim of the Daraghuyan claimants to get the support of the park management to their tenurial aspiration.

KIN likewise expanded its network to other institutions, namely, Bukidnon State University (tutorials for the educational assistance beneficiaries, research), city social welfare and development office (monitoring and evaluation of livelihood projects), Committee of German Doctors (mothers’ class in health, nutrition and women’s rights), Xavier University College of Nursing (research). This is aside from individual contacts who are experts in mapping, agroforestry, alternative power sources (e.g. solar) and other fields.

Significant achievements

KIN embarked on a conscious documentation of activities and made their community known to various agencies, stakeholders and even in other countries.

Direct community involvement in project management was likewise cited. Community members said they had a direct role in the project cycle, from the identification of activities particularly those pertaining to livelihood, up to the implementation and M&E stages. They added they have learned how to make proposals.