The Mandaya Community is the lead organization who defines, determines, and the final assessor of this inclusive development initiative. We spend at least 50% of our seminar time doing active, documented listening. The primary value we have been hearing is about their indigenous spirituality. From this spiritual base and lens, we get a better understanding of their concepts of liberation and their ideas of their right to self-determination. Then collaborative development happens in their own contexts—Mandaya worldview, Mandaya values system, Mandaya behavior patterns, and Mandaya customary laws.
We start with their Indigenous spirituality. “I’m excited to learn about the Mandaya story, thleir culture, and their Indigenous livelihood,” said Sihaya Ansibod, Director of Field Operations at PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. “As an Indigenous person myself, I know that their perspective of the world is primarily spiritual,” Sihaya continued. “I want to hear their knowledge of Magbabaya, the Creator. I want to listen to their creation story. It is through their spirituality that we will learn about what is important to them and what, to them, is right and proper,” Sihaya said.
“I’m so glad we can work together again and that we can start from their Indigenous spiritual perspective,” said Romy Elusfa, Executive Director of Tri-Peoples Development and Services Foundation, our funding partner in this project. “I believe God brought us together to serve the Mandaya people with unapologetic spirituality.”
Husepanon Kuntanaon, Chairperson of the Mandaya Community Association, Inc., shared her heart after the seminar. “Thank you for listening to our Indigenous beliefs,” she said. “We will guide you on what, to us, is the good life.”
We found out, during the initial dialogue with them, that they have been burned with development organizations, mostly funded by international aid agencies, who implemented projects in their Ancestral Domain. “They usually start,” Chair Kuntanaon reports, “with their own concept of development which is mostly influenced by Western materialistic worldview.”
Liberation from the Inside Out. “When a life is ready to emerge from an egg,” said a Mandaya elder, “it has to crack the shell from the inside. If one would try to crack the shell from the outside,” the elder continues, “the life inside will die.”
If we want to walk with the Indigenous Peoples towards life and liberty, they must start from within themselves and within their Indigenous systems.
Collaborative Development Initiative. This initiative is a collaboration between the Mandaya Community Association, Inc., the Tri-Peoples Development and Service Foundation, Inc. (which is the corporate social responsibility arm of Yaki Corporation), and the PBCI-CFP Inclusive Development Team. The owner of the Yaki Corporation, Lourdesima Pua Elusfa, is a Mandaya woman who loves the Creator, who loves her people, and an advocate of women’s rights and Indigenous Peoples’ rights.