October 2011

Life and Culture: Driving Force behind the Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development And Protection Plan of the Bukidnon-Daraghuyan Tribe

By: Ma. Easterluna Luz S. Canoy

Kitanglad Integrated NGOs

Volume 11 Number 2, Second Quarter 2009

On March 19, 2009. as the Bukidnon-Daraghuyan people celebrate the approval of their application for certificate of ancestral domain title (CADT). The Daraghuyan community identify themselves as Bukidnon who inhabit a portion of Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park in Malaybalay City. With this feat, their next tasks will be to consolidate, review and continue the implementation of the Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development Protection Plan (ADSDPP).

The Daraghuyan ADSDPP—or simply the plan – represents the deep and sacred aspirations of the Bukidnon people. The plan is the voice of their unity in charting their own welfare. It is their contribution and testament to protect their cultural heritage and environment inside their home which is now called Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park. Mt. Kitanglad is one of the country’s priority protected areas and an ancestral domain of the Bukidnon, Talaandig and Higaonon tribes.

Completing their own management plan was a breakthrough, a product of a long planning process from 1997 and onwards. Like the Daraghuyan application for CADT which was revived and pursued for seven years, the drafting of this ADSDPP included the most comprehensive, diverse and creative processes, most of which were mainly innovative and emergent. Its essence and substance is aged by time and the wisdom of its people who adhere to its sanctity and practicality. Through this document, development planners may come to understand the tribe’s thinking and spirit as exemplified on how they relate to their environment and strive for pro-community, pro-environment, and conflict-free future and development agenda.

The plan is a living document of Daraghuyan’s individual and collective growth in terms of leadership capacity, organizational health, as well as cultural, social and emotional intelligence and praxis. Combining introspection, self criticism, appreciative inquiry and problematique, they tried to comply with state rules and guidelines, e.g. proving their ethnicity and time-immemorial existence, daunting obstacles which they overcame through tenacity and humility.

In their dreams and aspirations, Daraghuyan leaders among the elders, healers, shamans, and successor generations among youths and children of the Bukidnon tribe started to conceive and give shape to the plan which they gradually revealed and spoke about like daily musings of a better future. A lot of it was also captured or interpreted in various forms and media.

Like a crystal ball, the Daraghuyan plan is full of sounds, music and cultural fragments, memories, and movements. Its contents can be simple uttering and prayers, reflections and dialogues, chants, everyday conversations, and demonstrated in songs and dances. The artistic ones in all age groups represent the plan in soil paintings and woven products done either individually or collectively. Some of their aspirations are molded it in bare hands, while others have sculpted it or have shared it in their interactions with fellow tribes and visitors.

More importantly, for us in KIN, the Daraghuyan ADSDPP was shaped through many years of walking and dreaming together with the community. Any outsider who meets them even for the first time can be inspired by their struggles and perspectives. They are optimistic of their future as they endlessly seek fulfillment of their freedom to govern and be secured in their ancestral homelands. Can cultural values really take the tribe to a secured future wherein the integrity of its people and environment are not compromised?

We speak of the Daraghuyan plan as fruit of collective dreaming with a historical bearing and truths. People speak its elements from the heart and in many ways; their dreams and visions have drawn many professionals and experts turned allies and long-time friends to respond to their call.

Mixing Culture and Development

The Daraghuyan ADSDPP contains the spiritual and cultural framework in seeing and thinking development. From the world of people’s indigenous culture come forth the principles, goals and strategies to carry it out. However, the plan is not a cure-all instrument like most development frameworks that can be a tool to emancipate or serve to untangle human adversity. Rather, the tribe’s plan is a path to walk on, with potholes, barricades, cloudy days and all. For sure, it will not be straight bounded as dynamics of modernity and climate change will challenge their thinking and vision. Yet nature spirits continue to guide the elders and warn them when hardships would be most daunting or when moments of celebration are in the offing.

Process-wise, the plan is a covenant of unity of the Daraghuyan people, both old and young but seeing their future as one. It embarks on their values as descendants of great ancestors from where their families, clans, and tribe came from. Their reason for being is imbibed in cherished ancestral values and traditions. The Bukidnon-Daraghuyan people, the heirs of Docenos, Omarol, Linoy, Bungcasan and Palanay clans – are tasked by their forebears to preserve their community, their environment and most importantly, their sacred mountains. They are guided by their batasan (customary laws) as their covenant with Magbabaya (God) and their ancestors. The kagbatasan depicts a living and preserved culture of Bukidnon people or matatao (good person). Elders and their descendants must live benevolent, righteous and sincere lives to avoid conflicts and disasters and keep their friendship with the nature spirits dwelling in their midst.

The Making of the ADSDPP

The formal documentation of the planning process began in 2005, two years after their head claimant Bae Inatlawan had filed their bid for a CADT covering at least 4,000 hectares.

Its salient features, with milestones, include:

On culture, arts and life education:

Observance of annual sacred rites and prayers in remote and forested mountains (Mounts Apolang, Daraghuyan, Lunayon, Lalawan falls, and Damitan Hill);

Elders constantly transmitting cultural beliefs and practices through oral and actual means to their descendants. This is done exclusively in their own School of Living Traditions in Sitio Inhandig and in their tulugan heritage center;

Consulting nature spirits through performance of rites and for social and economic activities like marriage, planting and in conflict resolution;

All outsiders and first time visitors must observe cultural protocols for entry and acceptance. Free and prior consent process must be observed; and

Support towards Alternative Learning Systems for young and adults complemented by a scholarship program to bridge local knowledge with the modern world.

On nature/environment/biodiversity:

Respect for biodiversity. Avoid harming the kalumbata (Philippine Eagle) for doing so entails death to a member of the family or of the tribe;

Observance of respect and prudence in utilizing forest resources like trees, plants, animals and other things found inside the territory;

Protection from wanton entry and misplaced development projects in their territory; and

Community restoration and reforestation by planting native species;

On development (economic, social and physical infrastructures):

Development and improving the welfare of the tribe result from hard work, humility, cooperation and constant prayers;

Improved farming activities for food and income using technologies on agroforestry (with coffee and abaca crops), home gardens (esp. vegetable and fruit gardening), tanglad (lemon grass) production, rattan crafts and indigenous cottage industries and processing (blacksmithing, abaca and mat weaving, and wild honey marketing);

Embarking on new projects like silkworm, dressmaking and embroidery and tailoring, visitor management and tribal food catering, raising native pigs and chickens and fishponds;

Management of the Tulugan–the Mt. Kitanglad Cultural and Heritage Center as the locus of cultural and learning activities both for the tribe and outsiders. The 3-5 hectare heritage compound shall also be developed with new infrastructures like the 3D map shelter as educational and visitor center, a balaghusay or justice building, a library and heritage museum, a tribal shop, and a dormitory with tribal restaurant. The facility will be complemented with alternative energy systems like solar, wind and hydro power; and

Promote indigenous products, e.g. coffee, honey, and passion fruit, tribal arts and crafts (mats and jewelries) as their artifacts for identity and alternative sources of income;

On Traditional, Socio- Political, and Health Governance:

Establish a tribal community or barangay governed by select leaders of the tribe and enforcing customary laws and documented tribal policies;

Properly securing communities through appropriate and modest housing and availment of social services like potable water, school and tribal clinic and pharmacy (for birthing and treatment by baylans and healers), and putting up “tribal botika” as herbal medicinal store facilities; and

Build and institutionalize the tribe’s own healthcare and insurance systems through collection of user’s fees from firms operating inside the ancestral domain, merits from carbon capture, and shares from performing environmental services;


The plan attempts to maintain a balance between culture, environment and development, as the community walks on the path towards the future.

The ADSDPP is a living testament of people’s effort to balance their spiritual, survival and development needs and aspirations.

With culture, the Bukidnon’s spiritual values as the first precept, the future generations of the tribe should be able to carry out and exemplify their spiritual life. Thus, places of worship should be venerated, burial grounds be preserved, and that in every undertaking, one should seek the permission of the spirits in order to be guided in one’s undertaking.

This means sacred montane places with waterfalls should be preserved not developed for profit-oriented ecotourism projects for outsiders who would just use these sites just like any typical resort or picnic destinations.

Ideas, solutions and activities need to be consulted first with the spirits for proper guidance and acceptance.

Modern innovative designs (like in constructing the tulugan heritage center) and solutions are intuited from the admonitions, appearance and guidance of nature spirits. The signs are conveyed during the conduct of a required ritual or thereafter.

Culture is manifested in its homogenous and varied facets. Where differences occur, the practice of “sayuda” or consensus building is essential.

The tribe has the ability to develop, and the survival of their generations attest to this tenacity and endurance. According to Datu Dumapal Docenos, “development is like fixing a basket or renovating a damaged shelter, and it depends on the imagination and industry of everyone.”

Where conflict occurs within sibs, within families, within friends and neighbors and within tribes, the rule of agpangan (scale of justice) prevails. As a remedy, forms of sala (tribal justice system) are applied in simple and complex situations so that every trace of enmity, differences and mite are rooted out from everyone’s heart.

Cultural zones must be established inside the protected area. In this manner, community activities like establishment of tangkal (wildlife sanctuaries), ecotourism, and forest regeneration and restoration works can be undertaken without conflict with park authorities.

Continuing self-education and documentation of indigenous knowledge systems and practices are a joint learning process in maintaining unity.

Technical Working Group and Assistance; Project Development (Past and Present)

The Daraghuyan-Bukidnon community and its partner NGO, the Kitanglad Integrated NGOs (KIN), have been fortunate for the kind, generous and sincere assistance of many experts and allies—tribal kin as well as Filipino and foreign assistants who had come at different points in time and integrated with the community so as to craft, design, articulate, implement and popularize some of the elements in tribe’s ADSDPP. Among them are:

Indigenous/Cultural Experts

Edtami Mansayagan of the Erumanen Ne Menuvu tribe of Cotabato, former Officer In Charge of the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), for ADSDPP Review of Accomplishments and Validation (2008).

Norma Gonos of the Mandaya tribe, Davao Oriental, former Director of Ancestral Domains Office of NCIP, for the formulation of ADSDPP following existing NCIP rules and regulations (2007).

Datu Adolino Makapukaw Saway of the Talaandig tribe of Lantapan, for guidance in dealing with government and its instrumentalities in the local governments, the DENR, the NCIP and the Protected Area Management Board (2005).

Datu Migketay Victorino Saway of the Talaandig tribe of Lantapan, for guidance in culture-based and culture-sensitive framework (1996-1997).

Tonyo Uybad and Vina Hernandez of the Mangyans of Mindoro, for technical assistance in community mapping (1999-2001).

Waway Saway and his ace students Tambuloy, Balugtu, Sultan, and Raul tribes, for enhancing the Daraghuyan youth’s talents in indigenous music and arts (2005-2006).

Datu Mansalalang Henry Binahon, for trainings in agroforestry, food security and nature farming (2008).

Datus Carmelito Montenegro (Manobo-Mamanua of Surigao); Amay Mangtankilan and Datu Pignanawan Arthuso Maloay (†) (Higaonon of Impasugong and Claveria); and Datu Mandagasi Rico (Manobo of Agusan), for their encouragement (2005-2008).

Individual Consultants, Technical Assistants

John Burkentley Ong and his team members Rey Bae, Benjie Orpilla and Dan Hernandez, for 3D mapping, and the use of GIS & GPS technologies in planning (1998-2001; 2005-2007)

Arch. Anna Maria Gonzales and protégés Paolo Aguila and Jhun Fabre of Task Force Arki of UP Diliman, for architecture and infrastructure using community design processes and the construction of Mt. Kitanglad Cultural and Heritage Center (2005-2007).

Butch Dagondon and Albert Mabaquiao of Green Mindanao Association, Inc., for advice and installation of toilet facilities up in the village (2006).

Park Superintendent Felix Mirasol and staff, for manpower and logistics support and for bridging with DENR agencies (ex. PAWB & PAWD), the PAMB and Kitanglad Mayors (1996 – present).

Ms Shirlene Sario, NCIP-Bukidnon provincial officer and staffs for their patience and guidance (2005-2009)

Dr. Antonio T. Sumbalan (†), the ever active and present PAMB consultant, for critical inputs and guidance even during off-hours (1996 -2009)

Atty. Ipat Luna of Tanggol Kalikasan, as legal adviser (2006).

Dr. Maria Mangahas of Anthropology Department of the University of the Philippines, for inputs on culture and practices vis-à-vis the lives of Ivatans and the Bukidnon (2006).

Emma van Opstal, for community volunteer service bridging the divide between the “whites vs. natives” and for designing the Bukidnon Educational Assistance (scholarship) Program (2006-2007).

Vim (and Pangging) Santos of Philippine Global Exchange, for initial market test, fair trade in promoting Daraghuyan tribal products (2006 to present).

Mary Jean Cruz of Fastbooks, Inc. and Soup of the Day for budgeting and landscaping (2006-2007) workshop and in pursuing the tribes’ tanglad (lemon grass) production for essential oils.

Judyfind Abragan, for videography and campaign (2006 & 2008)

Yong Ding Li and Andrew Tay of Nature Society of Singapore, for training the Daraghuyan artists on birdwatching, bird sketching and environmental awareness (2006).

Dietmar and Vilma Schug of German Doctors Committee, for a Mothers Class (2007-2008).

Drs. Joy Mirasol, Estela Itaas, Zita Dales of the Bukidnon State University, for bridging the tribal high school scholars to Math tutorials (2007 to present).

Joy Tulang Decano and her co-teachers at St. John’s School-Malaybalay, for summer classes (2007-2008).

Edwin de la Torre and peers Joemar Obejas and JC Aquino of Inner Dance Movement, for tribal youth capability building and community theatre workshops (2008).

Ron Asignacion, for searching for the right framework for “IP OD” (2008).

Catherine de Mesa, for rendering volunteer service and for securing the Daraghuyan representation to the Bukidnon Environment Summit of 2008.

Prof. Rizal Cruz of National College for Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG) of UP Diliman, for documentation of the tribe’s and KIN’s experiences in 3D mapping and GIS technologies (2008)

Beijie Tulang, Nico Cruz, Bert Vansteenkiste, Tine Meyeur & Johan Demmityre, Brian Smith, all youth volunteers for the conduct of English, Math and Science tutorials and sports (Volleyball) and creative drama workshops with Daraghuyan Tribal Youths.

Ferdinand Cruz and Lino Alvarez, for project development of Food for Upland Dwellers (2008)

Institutions, donor, agencies, groups and patrons who contributed funds to accomplish the above:

Global Environment Facility through the World Bank (GEF-WB) – learning years under the Conservation of Priority Protected Areas Project (CPPAP, 1996 – 2002) which brought KIN to Daraghuyan in 1996 and to 28 other IP dominated barangays and 47 sitios (villages).

Volunteer Service Organization (VSO) – PA dialogue and conflict resolution which endorsed the Daraghuyan CADT application (2004).

Bank of Philippine Islands’ (BPI Foundation) – community agroforestry trainings (2004).

Kaisa Para sa Kaunlaran for support in Bukidnon-Daraghuyan Census (2004).

Broederlijk Delen (BD) – support for monumenting, livelihood assistance, and ADSDPP workshop (2004-2009).

Oxfam Hongkong (OHK) – support for CADT final survey and validation and bridging technical assistance for ADSDPP, cross visits (2005-2009).

Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE) – technical assistance including mapping of CADT, and head claimants cross-visit to Mindoro.

World Bank Grants Facility for IPs (WB) – Construction of the Tulugan known as Mt. Kitanglad Cultural and Heritage Center or MKCHC (2006-2007).

City Government of Malaybalay under the leadership of Mayor Florencio Flores, Jr. and Chief City Planner Allan Ronolo  – for service vehicles; food for community and funds for tribal uniforms, for BEAP scholars and land development activities of the around tulugan (MKCHC) (2007 – 2009).

Asian Council for People’s Culture – for bridging KIN to Broederlijk Delen and in providing the venues for Daraghuyan to learn from indigenous curriculum capacity building, (2004, 2006).

SMART Communications Inc. through Mon Isberto for donating 6 cellular phones to the Bukidnon tribe (2005 & 2007).

The Samdhana Institute – community workshops & project development (2008 – 2009).

Provincial Government through Vice Gov. Alex Calingasan and council members Atty. N. Beltran Jr. and Atty. Roland Detecio for support in Daraghuyan BEAP Scholarship campaigns and publications.

Peace and Equity Foundation for ADSDPP validation workshop (2008).

Department of Education for Alternative Learning Systems sustaining the ALS classes for Daraghuyan parents and out of school youths (2009).

Anne Provoost and friends in Melsele and Beveren for support to BEAP scholars (200

Portia Sorority or Alumni of Xavier University College of Law, my sorority sisters who sponsored some of the Bukidnon-Daraghuyan scholars (2008-2010).

Bridging Leadership Fellows Batch 1 and 2 of AIM-Team Energy Program for their donations for the BEAP scholars (2009).

Colegio de la Immaculada Concepcion High School Batch ’83 for their donations to BEAP scholars.

Mactan Shangrila Hotel for various donations for the Tulugan Mt. Kitanglad Cultural and Heritage Center & Super Ferry for free freight service of these donations (2008).

And, all individuals, friends, mentors, and acquaintances who prefer to remain anonymous. Nonetheless, their names and offices had been identified for thanksgiving rituals.

Finally, an Apologia and Loving Reminder

The Bukidnon-Daraghuyan tribe represents one of the cultural vanguards of Mt. Kitanglad. Yet, like all indigenous peoples whose ancestry and existence are being challenged as unauthentic, its members realize that their hard work does not end with the approval of their CADT. A big celebration awaits when this CADT would soon be awarded to them in public. But having successfully gone through rigorous, heartbreaking, conflicting, complicated, expensive processes in titling their ancestral domain and in formulating the ADSDPP, the tribe is confronted with more complex and daunting tasks and questions. In many instances, critics had questioned their decision to adopt some elements of modernity as incongruous with their identity as cultural torchbearers.

A concrete example was the reaction of a city denizen upon seeing the relative elegance of the Mt. Kitanglad Cultural Heritage Center vis-à-vis other tribal structures. She sounded uncomfortable that a cultural structure that houses a bangkasu (high altar) carries some marks of modernity in terms materials and design. One who happened to have participated in the Daraghuyan’s visioning and planning activities could not avoid wondering why “modern” men and women (read outsiders) demand that a cultural marker should cling to purely indigenous elements to remain “authentic”, e.g. no use of concrete and steel. A similar dilemma faces a person who asks if the tribe can justifiably sing Andrea Bocelli’s “The Prayer.” Does asserting one’s cultural rights mean remaining in a state of dormancy?

Hence visitors and curious tourists are advised to leave behind their “cultural baggage” and preconceptions on how the tribe should be the moment they step into the waiting shed along Dalwangan highway and prepare to walk the Daraghuyan trail.  Allow every visit to bring out new cultural impressions and avoid verbalizing any criticism. Just take the tribe in their own terms. Wear a cultural lens or a clear sunglass; at best walk with your bare feet and smell the air of Mother Earth’s natural legacy.  Dive into the abyss of cultural experience and don’t forget to bring silver and bronze coins and white and red cloths. Those who mean to ask big favors should carry along a chicken for ritual offering. Vegetarian visitors may not worry since they can negotiate from the cultural protocol. What is important is that the shaman sees right through your sincere heart.

So asking the meaning of being tribal or indigenous is the same as asking what it means to be a true Filipino. It’s also like the chicken-or-egg debate.  The answer lies in everyone’s practice and legacy the remnants of which are both visible and invisible but whose truism can be felt from the heart.

With the infusion of cultural arts and music right into the soul of every tribal youth the Daraghuyan community is inspired to invent and reinvent their cultural icons and beatings. Images and symbols that one may see in their territory is a product of externally directed and introverted marker. Constructions on culture and identity are everyone’s prerogative and privilege. It may be that for now the rest of the majority will ogle or marvel at its uniqueness, though some are frustrated by its austerity and ingenuity. Whatever the case, don’t get lost in the obscurity of what is real and unreal. Otherwise, given the luxury of time, one can go back and search for more thick descriptions from ethnographies, history books, or narrative accounts. But convincing everyone the right of every indigenous citizen is dependent also on intention and bad faith. Can this question be posed to those who stand in the way of the people’s right to self-determination and human dignity?

Whatever it is worth, the long journey that the Bukidnon-Daraghuyan tribe had taken in pursuing their struggle and vision for Mt. Kitanglad, like any worthy achievement, is a valid reason for a celebration. Its leaders and members must be given more opportunity to learn and re-create their world, in their own pace and understanding. Indeed they need no flattery. Nor should they be denied of their basic entitlements so that they can continue to build on from their small success.


Volume 11 Number 1, First Quarter 2009

The Long Road to Daraghuyan: Chronicles of an Ancestral Domain Claim

(Based on interviews with Bae Inatlawan, Bae Malugdang and Datu Dumapal)

By Grace O. Galache[1]

“Duon ag aragi sa gagawan hug uyamuhan.”  (Love grows from sincere caring and commitment)

For Bae Inatlawan Adelina D. Tarino and her fellow claimants belonging to the Bukidnon tribe of Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, this is what the Daraghuyan Ancestral Domain Claim is all about, the same reason why it cannot just be ignored or hindered by anybody.

Cultural and historical bases of the claim

Daraghuyan, one of the sacred peaks in Mt. Kitanglad Range, has been adopted as the name of the entire ancestral domain of the Bukidnon tribe. Legend says that it came from the word daraghuy, which means a passage to the afterlife for the souls of baylans (shamans). Here the living could hear the lamentations of their ancestors. The mountain reminds them to take care of their kagbatasan (culture) and tradition to appease the spirit of the place.

The ancestral domain (4,203 hectares) lies within the political jurisdiction of Barangay Dalwangan, Malaybalay City. At present, the tribe considers Sitio Inhandig as their cultural center, the place where they started anew after being driven out from Sitio Sanggaya, their previous abode, by a wealthy and influential capitalist. Bae Inatlawan and other members of the Docenos clan had lived there.

Mt. Kitanglad Range, to which Daraghuyan belongs, is sacred to the Bukidnon, Higaonon and Talaandig tribes because it was the only mountain in Mindanao not totally submerged by the Great Deluge. According to legend, a man named Apu Agbibilin was instructed by his mulin-ulin (guardian spirit) to climb the peak in order to be saved. After the flood, the same mulin-ulin told him to look for a woman who also survived. Their offspring became the seeds of the tribes of Mindanao.

“Tell your sons and daughters to always perform a ritual by offering chickens and pigs here in Kitanglad to cleanse the sins of your ancestors that polluted it and to prevent illnesses on your descendants. Do not commit sins and take care of the mountains, rivers, trees, lands and all things therein so that calamity will not again occur [in Mt. Kitanglad],” the mulin-ulin further told Apu Agbibilin.

Beginnings of the claim

Belief in this order from the mulin-ulin prompted Datu Makaatul, father of Bae Inatlawan, to acquire legal title to their territory. In the early 1970s, the datu went to the Bureau of Forest Development to claim ownership of Sugod Area, although the Commission on National Integration had existed at the time. He was unsuccessful, as Sugod was classified as timberland hence inalienable and non-disposable as per the 1973 Constitution. Nevertheless, the agency received his claim and allowed his family to stay put, although they lived in constant worry over their territorial rights.

Twenty years after, the same mulin-ulin ordered Datu  Makaatul to go to the Forest Management Bureau again to renew his claim and inform the office that they only wanted to live peacefully in the area. Then governor Ernesto Tabios requested the office to issue a stewardship certificate. The latter subsequently conducted a survey, which produced a map showing a claimed area of 10,000 hectares. But a certificate of ownership was not handed to him.  However, the tribe has used the said map in re-filing their claim and they continued living in the area largely unencumbered by forestry laws and regulations.

Through the years, Datu Makaatul had not been blind to general changes in land laws. His mulin-ulin would always warn him that there will come a time when his descendants ki, claim in the name of Datu Dumapal and made them aware that even supposed friends could not be trusted and might try to outsmart them. The PSTFAD told them to wait for the result of the application, which was never acted upon.

By 1995, aside from the unified claim, at least 14 individual applications for ancestral domain claims inside Mt. Kitanglad were filed. Daraghuyan was twelfth on the list. But Mt. Kitanglad Range became a PA making the Daraghuyan claimants anxious that they would be more deprived of their rights over their territory. They said they were not informed that their area had become part [of the PA]. Hence, they were left with no choice but to support their fellow indigenous peoples by joining the unified claim.

The PSTFAD and PAMB were now tossing between themselves the responsibility of deciding on ancestral domain claims. They tried to resolve the issue by letting the claimants decide whether they wanted a unified claim or separate ones. The tribal leaders of the three tribes agreed to push for a unified claim. PSTFAD published the tribes’ agreement in newspapers. Subsequently, a number of adverse parties who are also residents of the park filed a petition against the unified claim. The head claimant failed to answer within the 15-day period the issues raised by petitioners.

Cracks in the Unified Claim Front

President Fidel V. Ramos in 1998 signed the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA) or R.A 8371. The law seeks to strengthen ancestral domain claims. 1999 and 2000 were a transition period in the implementation of the law, to give ample time for the turnover of application documents filed at DENR to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), an office created under the IPRA. At this time, the Daraghuyan claimants still waited for the unified claim to be acted upon so that they could exercise their tenurial rights. Datu Dumapal attended many meetings and seminar workshops on matters relating to the unified claim to enable the tribe to be always updated on its development. The claimants needed to comprehend the NIPAS Act, IPRA and other laws in relation to their aspirations. They always convened a meeting in Inhandig for this purpose.

Then Datu Dumapal became sick. In a meeting, the council of elders agreed to replace him with Bae Inatlawan Adelina Tarino as representative of the tribe. Bae Inatlawan decided to study the processes involved in applying for an ancestral domain title.  She said she often visited the NCIP office and befriended the staff so that she could easily ask them about matters related to CADT. She soon became familiar with the processes.

But until late 2001, or four years after it was created, the NCIP had not approved a single CADT. Meanwhile, conflict erupted between DENR and Datu Migketay Saway, the head claimant for unified claim, when the former tried to confiscate lumber allegedly acquired by the latter illegally. Datu Migketay resisted the confiscation. The DENR responded by airing the incident on local radio, which Migketay took as a personal insult. He declared a sala (cultural penalty) against a number of DENR officials and personnel and demanded coins, carabaos (water buffalos), and chickens, among others, as payment. The datu increased the penalty after each particular turn of the moon that the DENR failed to respond or the parties failed to reach a settlement. Time came when the penalty had reached hundreds of carabaos and had become impossible for the DENR to comply with. In several PAMB meetings, the sala was a major item in the agenda. To this day, however, it has remained unresolved.

At the time, Bae Inatlawan was Migketay’s de facto spiritual adviser being his main shaman. She realized in the course of taking part in sala activities that her tribe would have applied more diplomatic cultural processes in dealing with the DENR. Moreover, it dawned on her that with their differences in terms of customary justice system it would be difficult for the Bukidnon tribe to join the Talaandig under one claim. Bae’s realization started the rift between her and Migketay, which led to the Daraghuyan Council of Elders reviving their separate claim.

Revival of the Daraghuyan Claim

Bae Inatlawan and her group also realized that the unified claim was taking longer than expected making them anxious over their security in their territory. Hence, on September 26, 2003, they filed their CADT application at the NCIP-Bukidnon office. The decision resolved one problem but gave rise to another: where to find funds for the processing of the claim. The NCIP provincial office has received nearly 200 CADT applications. Yet owing to its minimal funding from the central government the agency would only prioritize one application per year. The claimants asked for funds from the local government, to no avail. They were hesitant to approach just any NGO for fear they would just be used and abused.

In late 2003, Easterluna Canoy, then a master’s degree student at Ateneo de Manila University who managed the Kitanglad Integrated NGOs from 1996 to 2002, asked for Bae Inatlawan’s permission to make the Daraghuyan community the subject of her thesis. Bae agreed since she has trust in Easter as partner during KIN’s first project in Mt. Kitanglad. The ritual for the research’s Free and Prior Informed Consent, on November 4, 2003, coincided with an information campaign for the claimants by the NCIP signaling the slow but continuing progress of the claim.

Although there was yet no formal agreement between them, the claimants and KIN started to work together in complying with the requirements of the claim. These included the census, genealogical survey, collection of anthropological data and translation of documents from Binukid to English. KIN, using its remaining funds, shouldered some of the expenses. A substantial amount, however, was needed for the installation of boundary markers. Fortunately, in 2004, KIN obtained some funding from the Belgian-based Broederlijk Delen. Actual installation began in 2005.

Prior to the installation of boundary markers, on March 18, 2005, posting and serving of notices to the adjacent claimants were also conducted. After more than a month without receiving objections, on April 28, 2005, the claimants started putting up the markers. They completed the work on January 26, 2006.

In 2005, the Daraghuyan Council of Elders passed a resolution recognizing KIN as their assisting NGO, after a leveling-off meeting between KIN and NCIP-Bukidnon, on April 15. Funds for succeeding activities for the claim, until its approval on March 19, 2009, would mainly come from Oxfam Hong Kong. The OHK grant focused on integrated support program to ensure traditional governance be recognized in the protected area. Although the issuance of CADT is the main goal, but other activities were equally given importance such as the establishment of wildlife sanctuary, livelihood (home gardening and coffee production), empowerment of women elders and youths, ion, education and awareness campaigns, community mobilization with NCIP especially in the survey and validation, and the technical assistance necessary for the formulation of the tribe’s Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development Protection Plan. The Volunteer Service Organization, Broederlijk Delen, and the Foundation for the Philippine Environment also granted varying amounts.

On April 25 of the same year, the Special Provincial Task Force that would validate the claim was formed. Two days after, the SPTF members – community representatives, NCIP, KIN and PASu – met to schedule activities. Validation of proofs and IEC were then conducted in Sitio Inhandig, where the SPTF interviewed at least 10 % of the total number of claimants, the minimum required by law. The elders performed an overnight kaliga to appease the spirits and for a peaceful and successful activity. During the ritual the elders related, through chanting and limbay (songs), the histories of the mountains in their territory, their sacredness and importance to the Bukidnon tribe.

Validations of the census, genealogical data, and testimonies of elders were conducted on July 26, August 16, and November 28, 2006, respectively, in Dalwangan. Afterwards the documents underwent revision, the third actually at the time. Further revisions and new sets of documents would be added to the claim book in the next two years, as the NCIP would change every now and then the documentary prescriptions.

The perimeter survey, on the other hand, could have been done in February 2006 if not for the objection posed by the pro-unified claim group. At that time, KIN, the NCIP and the claimants had signed a memorandum of agreement on the work and financial plan [for the survey] which amounted to at least half a million pesos. Given the characteristic delays, however, in the processing of documents by the NCIP and the then uncertain outcome of the claim, it would be hard to convince donor agencies to support such activity. KIN could only allocate a relatively small amount from the grants since these were allocated for other activities, too, while the claimants could only offer free labor as their counterpart.

It was not until February 27, 2008 that NCIP engineers arrived to finally do the survey based on work order number 02-02-08. The survey was finished on March 28, 2008 and validated in Dalwangan on July 23, 2008 with small revisions. With the survey now completed, the Regional Ancestral Domain Team and SPTF held a meeting on October 6, 2008 during which they recommended to the NCIP central office to schedule deliberations on the Daraghuyan claim. The first and second deliberations took place in Davao City, in November 2008. Prior to the deliberations, Bae Inatlawan, the Council of Elders, Bata Hu Tribu and KIN produced 12 copies of the CADT claim book, four of them original, an effort that took 2½ weeks including one week of working overnight. Financial constraint made it more difficult but Bae Inatlawan and her group managed to accomplish it.

On February 2, 2009, Bae Inatlawan and KIN went to NCIP central office to follow up the map of Daraghuyan produced by the agency’s surveyors. Bae got hold of the map and a week later its technical description was given to the NCIP provincial office. In the same month, upon receiving the technical description, the NCIP provincial office complied with the publication of a notice on the claim for 15 days in a local newspaper. And since there had been no objections by adverse parties within the 15- day period the NCIP central office held the third and final deliberation, on March 19, 2009.

Taming the Wild Dogs

Bae Inatlawan, the brave and headstrong head claimant of Daraghuyan, started to study the ancestral domain claim documents his father left to her. That was the time the DENR created the PSTFAD. She would walk the 15-kilometer trail from Inhandig to Dalwangan, rain or shine, just to attend to their claim documents. During her first visit to the office, she said, a dream occurred to her. It went as follows:

“The night before I went to PSTFAD to submit our documents, I dreamed about wild dogs. When I gave the papers to the staff I was so surprised that there were wild dogs inside the office that looked like lions. I noticed that the dogs were eating away my papers. I rather became afraid and retreated. Later, I understood that it was the message my ancestors told me, that the CADT application will encounter many problems. But we are not afraid.”

She narrated another problem that confronted their claim: their relations with the Bukidnons of Barangay Kapitan Angel. At first the Council of Elders of Kapitan Angel had no objections over the Daraghuyan claim. They always participated in all Daraghuyan CADT activities such as census and meetings.  Bae Eniza Balansag even nominated Bae Inatlawan as the head claimant.  As a result, Bae Inatlawan was strongly endorsed by Kapitan Angel and Daraghuyan Council of Elders. They then agreed to file one application covering the two groups.

Bae Inatlawan was confident over the friendship with Kapitan Angel and being a lumad and a good leader she wanted to help them. She linked the latter with BUTRIDCE (Bukidnon Unified Tribal Development Council), a group that aims to assist the lumads in their struggles and where Bae Inatlawan served as board member and Datu Ompongan as chairman. But for unexplained reasons, the Kapitan Angel Council of Elders filed their own application. Since the Daraghuyan group dislikes having any misunderstanding with them, they sought for a peaceful settlement.  They attended a meeting in Kapitan Angel to explain the context of the Daraghuyan claim. During the meeting both parties agreed on filing separate claims. On December 7, 20004, Datu Lunayon signed a document on this agreement.

Still another obstacle came. Since part of the Daraghuyan claim falls within the protected area, NCIP-Bukidnon required the claimants to seek the endorsement of the PAMB. Park Superintendent Felix Mirasol Jr., being the secretariat of PAMB, in turn asked for the endorsement of Dalwangan Barangay Council for the claim. On September 7, 2004, Bae Inatlawan attended the session of the barangay council to follow up the request for endorsement. Unfortunately, the barangay refused to give an endorsement due to some misconceptions about the head claimant. And on April 4, 2005, they instead filed a petition against Bae Inatlawan before the NCIP provincial office declaring that she is incapable of representing the tribe and that she is not an original resident of Dalwangan.

Bae related:

“They (Barangay local officials) did not yet understand the intention of our claim. They did not understand the purpose of our ancestral domain claim; some of them only understood CBFM (Community-Based Forest Management).  In the meeting, I explained to them the context of the claim and what they can do to the tribe and of how our ancestors wanted this, but they only crumpled our letter and declared that no matter what happens, they will not endorse the claim.  This hurt me very much.”

NCIP, upon receiving the petition, decides to convene a dialogue, on November 19, 2004. There Kagawad Esperanza Martinez denied that the barangay would not endorse the claim but that it only wanted some clarifications on the number of hectares claimed. She said they would support the claim provided they would be informed of CADT related activities. When the PAMB conducted a public hearing in Dalwangan on December 12, 2004 to discuss the NIPAS Act and IPRA nobody voiced objections to the Daraghuyan claim, although the endorsement from the barangay took longer than expected.

NCIP also required the Daraghuyan claimants to obtain the signatures of the elders from adjacent territories. Six prominent elders consented to and supported the claim. A document at the NCIP showed that Ursencio Tingalan, a Bukidnon tribe member who lived in Bato, Inhandig, had filed another claim covering Daraghuyan. But in a signed statement he said:

“Upon knowing the application of Daraghuyan, I sought permission from their council of elders to join their claim. I attended one of their monthly meetings and it was agreed that we will be included in the claim as there was no conflict between us.”

His group was then included in the census and genealogical data.

Then Impasugong mayor Mario Okinlay, who chaired the PAMB tribal affairs committee, asked the barangay council for its endorsement leaving the latter no choice but to issue one. The PAMB, Mt. Kitanglad Council of Elders, Malaybalay City government and the Provincial Consultative Body on Indigenous Peoples subsequently endorsed the claim, too.

Hopes dimmed, however, when early in 2006, the group advocating unified claim filed a petition at the NCIP which states that the Daraghuyan claim should be disapproved, saying the Mt. Kitanglad Council of Elders had agreed on a unified claim. The petition accused the Daraghuyan group of violating cultural law because the agreement on unified claim was sealed by a ritual. The NCIP found out, however, that the Talaandig group led by Datu Migketay had not actually filed a CADT application ever since the passage of IPRA. Moreover, the agency retrieved the old Daraghuyan application which Datu Makaatul, father of the head claimant, submitted during the time of the OSCC.

In a meeting held to clarify the matter Daraghuyan claimants were also confident they had not violated any cultural offense.

Bae asked the body: “What are the cultural violations or wrongdoings we have done in all our efforts in taking care of what our ancestors left to us? Is there anything wrong in documenting the proofs of ownership and claiming our ancestral domain?”

Datu Dumapal answered that the position paper against the Daraghuyan claim might be correct in relation to the culture of the Talaandig tribe in Sungko, Lantapan. “But for us the Bukidnon tribe in the Daraghuyan domain we have our own cultural basis in claiming our domain and we are doing the right thing. Based on the stories and history told by our ancestors there are three sets of beliefs of the tribes.  First is damlas, a belief handed by a famous and powerful ancestor called Datu Agyu whose exploits are told in ulaging (chants). Damlas is war (pangayaw) oriented and shows courage to fight. Ulaging accounts say the shamans assigned an area to Datu Agyu and his followers could have imbibed his courage in battle,” he said.

“Second is pina matuus, a religion of peace and harmony. Folk stories called nanangun say that this belief was introduced by Datu Bataay, who lived in Mt. Nakabangku, which is inside the Daraghuyan ancestral domain. It is his religion that was handed down to us and we are living it now,” Datu Dumapal said.

“Third is langkat, a belief espoused by an ancestor named Datu Dapadapa. He had no teachings of his own and merely adopted those taught by damlas and pina matuus wherever he went,” he added.

“Basically, every group has its own area or territory, heritage and beliefs established by our ancestors. We have worship areas inside our territory and the other tribes also had theirs. But in our prayers and rituals we give respect to the guardian spirits in the other domains.

“I also heard from my parents that we in the Bukidnon tribe follow or practice the pina matuus belief. That is why we are imposing very light penalties for violations to attain peace and justice within a short time,” the datu continued.

“It is good that we are united, but we can not also adopt those beliefs and practices which we neither experienced nor inherited,” Datu Dumapal, alluding to the assertion for a unified claim, said.

He further explained the decision to file a separate claim stemmed from these cultural differences, adding KIN could not be faulted for responding to the Daraghuyan group’s request for assistance.

Bae Inatlawan also related that the Bukidnon’s sala is different from the Talaandig’s. Based on a belief called palayaga, a conflict, no matter how big or small, can be settled with the blood of either a chicken or a pig or even with a one-peso coin. It is important that conflicts should be resolved within the day. She said this is not an argument for non-cooperation with

other tribes [in Mt. Kitanglad] but rather a way to avoid conflicts between them. It is better to file individual claims and form a federation later to give every tribe the freedom to exercise its own culture and traditions in its own territory.

On August 2, 2006, a preliminary conference was conducted at NCIP-Bukidnon office with all 13 individual claimants within Mt. Kitanglad. The head claimant of the unified claim, Datu Migketay Saway and his wife and KIN staff attended. It was in preparation for the clarificatory conference scheduled on August 9, 2006 to resolve issues surrounding the claims.

During the clarificatory conference the representative of the unified claim walked out.

On August 30 of the same year, the Mt. Kitanglad Council of Elders performed a panluntay, a ritual meant to ask forgiveness from the spirits that attended the rite during the conference in June 1997 where some tribal leaders agreed on filing a unified claim. The panluntay would free the individual claimants of responsibilities under the 1997 agreement, as it would appease the spirits and not create wounds between them and the humans involved.

Subsequently, the NCIP received another petition from Kapitan Angel and some individuals in Dalwangan. The petition attempted to discredit Daraghuyan ancestors and Bae Inatlawan’s reputation as a shaman, her identity as a Bukidnon and her residency in the area. It further alleged that her father was not really buried inside the domain. In short, the petition accused the claimants of not having any link to the land that they have claimed.

Bae Inatlawan approached the persons who signed the petition to ask them about it. Her inquiry revealed that they were ignorant as to its real nature. They said somebody came and asked them to sign an attendance sheet for a ritual that was held in Mt. Tungan-tungan. The Daraghuyan Council of Elders obtained signatures supporting these statements and submitted them to NCIP Chairman Eugenio Insigne. The NCIP considered the reply and went on with the processing.

To this day, there have been no protests from adverse groups after at least 15 days from the date a notice on the claim was published in a local newspaper. Thus the NCIP scheduled the third and final deliberation on March 19, 2009.

The Parable of the Cooked Rice

“We ask you to give us our land so we can take care of our fathers’ sacred places and live there peacefully.  Now that the rice is cooked, are you not going to let us eat it?  You people who are learned and educated, we do not have the intelligence to match yours.  And we do not have any weapon because we do not wish to fight you but to humbly ask to open your heart to the simple people of the tribe.”

 Datu Pagalungan addressing opponents of the Daraghuyan claim, 9 August 2006

“Convincing people of our intention is the most difficult thing in the processing of the Daraghuyan claim,” Bae Inatlawan related, adding it required a lot of courage to get endorsements from concerned agencies and groups. “Aside from making the local officials understand about the intent of the claim there are also people who appear to be good but are actually full of deceit. Some friends will turn their backs on you. You’d never know who your friends are; you need be aware of them. But never quarrel with them, just explain to them your good purpose,” she said.

“Our effort [in processing the claim] is more than enough. Our sacrifices have been countless. It has almost been 30 years that we have waited for this title. In working on the documents especially the genealogical data, there were neither days nor nights, neither rain or shine. I worked hard even when I was sick. I just used herbal medicines to cure my sickness just to finish my work and comply with requirements.”

Bae Inatlawan said it is important to ask permission from the spirits via a ritual before undergoing any CADT related activity. It is a basic cultural requirement to ask the spirit of the sun who gives us day, spirit of the moon and stars, spirit of the wind who gives us life, and spirit of money without whom many things would not have been fulfilled, she explained. Should the title be awarded to them, Bae said they will hold a thanksgiving ritual to thank “the NGO, NCIP, PASu, adjacent barangays, those who endorsed the CADT, and even the barangay officials who despite their reluctance issued an endorsement. The best thing to do now is to forgive those people. Everyone is bound to commit mistakes.”

Bae Inatlawan recalled too the difficulties in doing the census. “Some people in the area did not understand the ancestral domain. Most migrants were blind about the matter and you have to explain and convince them that this activity is good for everyone. Some did not want to be included in the census. Most lumads who have lived long in the area consented to and joined the AD activities. IPRA and the NIPAS law were properly explained to these people and they trusted the head claimant, for her merits are known among the Bukidnon tribe.”

Cultural practices like panlihi aided Bae Inatlawan a lot in getting the attention of persons she needed to talk to. She said it made those persons listen and weigh the significance of things, e.g. the endorsements of the claim. Daraghuyan elders said panlihi is not magic but guidance from the spirits that helps make difficult things easy. During the first and second deliberations on the CADT application, she said, she sent with Ms Shirlene Sario, provincial NCIP officer, a team of 20 spirits so that she could be assisted in explaining the claim. She said there is nothing wrong in this practice since their claim covers a sacred domain and the home of their ancestors.

It is also important that in filing an ancestral domain claim the group should cooperate, advised Bae Inatlawan. The Council of Elders should attend every meeting. Cooperation and patience will be the main key for the group’s success, she said.

Fulfilling the Dreams of Their Father

Since the 1970s, the Bukidnon tribe has always wanted to obtain title for their land in order to freely exercise their kagbatasan or culture and tradition in the area. It took more than 30 years for the tribe to succeed in their efforts as NCIP’s Commission En Banc had finally approved their application. The Bukidnons have overcome the wild dogs, the rice has been cooked, and they wanted to savor its abundance. They are now waiting for the gong to call them and, with the spirits, dance the tinambol in festive celebration.

The claimants want to fulfill the dreams of Datu Makaatul, their father, of preserving their culture and sacred areas and performing their rituals there. Kagbatasan, language as well as traditional arts and music should be taught to the young. Another way of preserving culture is strengthening traditional governance. As to rituals, they said they have to regularly perform one in Mt. Apolang, to prevent a hole of fire there from becoming a volcano. They said their ancestors had reminded them to perform a ritual there so as to appease the bad spirit that guards this hole into which the sins of humans inhabiting Malaybalay and surrounding areas are placed.

Conservation initiatives and the development of non-destructive livelihoods and local products are also being envisioned based on their Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan.

Bae Inatlawan understands that development and culture must go together. “With culture alone, the tribe will not survive; with development alone, the tribe will die,” she stressed.

[1] Project Assistant, Kitanglad Integrated NGOs, Inc. (KIN), 2004-2010.