The Inclusive Development Team of PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI) and Coffee for Peace (CFP) travelled to the Talaandig Ancestral Territory at the foot of Mt. Kitanglad to celebrate with the Indigenous Peoples and the Bangsamoro in affirming their kinship. The Settlers have been actively participating in this celebration for the past 9 years.
INTERFAITH PRAYERS. Datu Migketay Saway and the tribal leadership invited Dann Pantoja (indigenous name, Lakan Sumulong) to participate in a joint prayer — Indigenous Spirituality, Islam, and Christian. There were about 300 people from all over Mindanao who came. Together, we worshipped the Creator of all human beings. In this inter-faith activity, we come humbly with some common perspectives:
- that the Creator is our common Provider-Sustainer;
- that in this world we live in, there is an interplay of spiritual and physical dynamics; and,
- that in this physical-spiritual world, we all aspire for love, joy, justice, and peace.
We affirm these truths along with our IP and Moro sisters and brothers. These are God’s truth for all truth is God’s truth.
KINSHIP AND PEACE COVENANT. For our Ama (Tagalog, father) Lakan, this event is one of the highlights of the year. “The energy that embraced me yesterday at the celebration of kinship among Indigenous Peoples, Bangsamoro, and Settlers,” he said, “was that of love. May this love,” he continues, “be manifested in the rights-based sharing of wealth and power.”
This annual celebration for Ama is an act of love through solidarity with the struggles of the IPs. “This means respecting and acknowledging the IP’s right to self-determination,” Ama asserts. “This means respecting and acknowledging the IP’s stewardship of their ancestral domains.”
This annual celebration started in 07-08 March 2012. Over 1,000 people from all over Mindanao gathered at the Talaandig Ancestral Territory for the Reaffirmation of Kinship Ceremony. For the first time in 492 years, 13 Bangsamoro tribes have come together with 18 non-Islamized indigenous tribes to reaffirm their shared ancestry and commit to the Five Pillars of Kinship established in the traditional peace pact of their ancestors:
- Mutual Sharing of Information;
- Mutual Protection of Life;
- Recognition and Respect; and,
- Mutual Obligation to Help the Needy.
These tribes, many who have spent many decades in the past fighting against one another, have chosen to come together that day in 2012 to not only acknowledge their shared ancestry, but commit themselves to respect and protect one another.
KRISTINA’S JOURNEY. Kristina Senga, the newest member of our PBCI-CFP team, shared her reflection: “Mapalad ako dahil kahit middle-aged na ako ay nabibigyan ako ngayon ng pagkakataon na maabutan at mapahalagahan ang mga kultura ng ating mga kababayan sa labas ng maliit na mundong ginagalawan ko sa siyudad,” (I am fortunate that as a middle-aged woman, I am now afforded the opportunity to reach out and appreciate the culture of our countryfolks outside of the small world in the city where I live.)
“Sana sa mga darating ko pang paglalakbay ay lalo pang lumawak ang kaalaman ko sa kultura at sa kasaysayan,” (Hopefully, during my upcoming trips, my knowledge of culture and history will be further expanded) she adds.
We like Kristina’s appreciation of her experiences with PBCI-CFP Tribe especially when she invites her friends to see Mindanao from the lenses of justice, peace, and reconciliation. In one of her posts, she gave emphasis on the importance of this event in our task as peacebuilding advocates and practitioners.
“Mahalaga ang pagtitipon na ito sa pagpapatatag ng kapayapaan at pagkakaisa sa pagitan ng mga descendants ng ibat-ibang mga tribo sa Bukidnon bilang pagbabalik-tanaw at paggalang na rin sa kasaysayan at mga aral na iniwan ng kani-kanilang mga ancestors,” (This gathering is essential to establish peace and unity among the descendants of the various Bukidnon tribes as a commemoration and respect of the history and lessons left by their ancestors) she said.
ECONOMIC-ECOLOGICAL TRANSFORMATION. After celebrating our identity—our being or who we are, it was time to share what’s in our hearts and minds and what we can do together in the coming months.
For our Ina, Joji “Lakambini” Pantoja, this affirmation of kinship has economic and ecological implication. “It is important that our economic sustainability can be demonstrated in a transparent way as a showcase of the richness of Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSP),” Ina said. “Who we are,” she adds, “determines what we do. And what we do, determines what we will have.” Ina appreciates the mass production of ‘lutia’ (colocasia esculenta), an indigenous basic food among the tribes in Bukidnon, led by Bai Lisa Saway, the wife of Datu ‘Vic’ Migketay Saway. Datu Vic and Bai Lisa has been teaching us that the IP’s right to self-determination starts with food security.
We’re so blessed to be embraced in this multicultural community.