Kitanglad Updates, Volume VIII – Twin Issue 2008-2009


One million forest-people campaign, a call initiated by Green Mindanao and various tribes in northern Mindanao, would have remained just a vision if not for the proactive and determined leadership of Datu Pignanawan Arthuso Malo-ay of the Higaonons of Claveria, Misamis Oriental.

Datu Pignanawan Arthuso Malo-ayDatu Pignanawan exemplified strong determination as a young leader. His zest was inspired from the consultation-ritual process held in 2003, when elders of the Higaonons of Misamis, Gingoog and Bukidnon, forged a 7-point agenda that strengthened inter-tribal coalition in Mts. Kimangkil, Kalanawan, Sumagaya and Pamalihi (KKSP). Fulfilling that agenda was sort of laid on his hands, as he tried to bridge his people to the government, civil society and donors sympathetic to their cause.

Likewise, at a very young age, Art already assumed leadership of the tribal federation called MAMACILA covering five (5) Higaonon barangays in applying for a certificate of ancestral domain title. Such tasks posed no difficulty to this young chieftain for he knew he had to imbibe both temporal and spiritual leadership traits to protect his culture and generation.

Datu Art, as he was fondly known among his peers and friends especially in Green Mindanao, was a young chieftain with the qualities of a wise and responsible chieftain worthy of honor and pride among the Higaonons of Claveria. He led his people with strength and relentless determination and left a legacy of struggle for their ancestral domain rights and the conservation of indigenous peoples’ culture and their forestlands.

But Datu Art’s dreams for his people and his fellow IPs were short-lived. At 30, he passed away shortly after returning from Geneva, Switzerland from a UN-sponsored conference on Indigenous Peoples. Back to his world of youthful zest and guts, he drove his XRTM 125 motorbike to Butuan City for a meeting there on mandatory representation. A sudden swerve to the other side of the road sent his bike hitting a speeding Hyundai Galloper. He suffered major injuries in the head and internal organs and got fractured legs. He was taken to a good hospital in Cagayan de Oro City for the needed operation. Bereft of cash however for deposit, the attending physician advised that he be transferred to a public hospital where he died the afternoon of the following day.

News of his death shocked the entire Higaonon tribe who trusted him to be one of their true representatives who would have articulated their voice to the government.

And for all of us to whom he had shared his life and dreams, Datu Art will always be remembered as a young chieftain full of life and imbibed with inner strength. He was always warm-hearted, confident and brave regardless of who he spoke with.

Art is survived by his wife Erlinda and their two children-Lehmar, 5 and Lhuille Jean 4 years old. The MAMACILA which now awaits for the approval of their CADT now relies on his widow—Erlinda to continue what he has started especially for the sacred lands of KKSP. (MESC)

Datu Art Pignanawan with the MAMACILA Council of Elder

The young Datu Art Pignanawan seated in front on the left side together with the MAMACILA Council of Elders and GM’s Bosing Butch Dagondon and Easter Canoy and staffs Engr. Roel Caseo as and For. Gal Mortel. Photo taken during the installation of tribal hall tulugan in Civoleg, Claveria sometime in 2006.