26 – 27 Aug 2022. The Talaandig Indigenous People’s community in Sungko, Lantapan, Bukidnon, finished the first of two social entrepreneurship workshops which was jointly facilitated by Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT), led by Dr. Jinky Bornales, and the Inclusive Development Team of PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. and Coffee for Peace (PBCI-CFP IncluDev Team). With the cultural guidance and leadership of Datu Migketay “Vic” Saway, the seminar-workshop focused on generating Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSP) that can be used in their social enterprise ventures. The participants also identified the products that they want to develop as social enterprises.
The first day started with an indigenous ritual that acknowledged the spirits in the area. This ritual emphasized the importance that the Talaandig put on the spiritual aspect of their daily lives. During the two-day workshop, the grounding of entrepreneurship to their spirituality was highlighted. For them, doing business should start with acknowledging the Creator whom they call Magbabaya and the spirits that guard every part of their lives.
After the ritual, our Ama Lakan Sumulong, gave the historical background of the workshop and asked the participants of their expectations. Prof. Jinky Bornales of MSU-IIT gave an overview of the activity. The session proper was opened by Celesamae Visente of MSU-IIT with the topic Understanding Business Diagnostic followed immediately by Introduction to Social Enterprise shared by our Ina, Joji Pantoja, President & CEO of Coffee for Peace, Inc. She focused on the peace framework that CFP follows in doing business, which can be summarized in:
- Harmony with the Creator (spiritual transformation)
- Harmony with the being (psycho-social transformation)
- Harmony with others (socio-political transformation)
- Harmony with creation (economic-ecological transformation).
The framework has similarities with the Talaandig perception as shared by participants in the workshops I facilitated. In my session, the participants identified their sources of livelihood in the community and shared stories of how they did business in their community before. Barter was the most common answer. They bartered with one another, with other tribes in the area, and with the Muslim tribes. They said that their bartering with the Muslim tribes was established through their kinship. This kinship has been rekindled in the previous years at the back of armed conflicts that plague Muslims, indigenous peoples and settlers. One participant also shared of a datu whose hat was used as a security badge so that they can pass safely. That time, they had to pass an area that was popular for looting but when the people in the place see the hat, the Talaandig traders are allowed to pass safely. The participant said that it was because of the datu’s good relationship with the people in the said area.
Another notable practice the Talaandig had was the concept of sharing the harvest with neighbors. The first harvest is shared with neighbors. They also said that when they see a neighbor in need, they immediately supply the need without being asked. These practices in business highlighted the importance of harmonious relationships with others over capital accumulation.
On the second day, Talaandig spiritual leader Datu Migketay Saway opened the sessions by sharing their indigenous cosmology. He emphasized the interconnection of the spiritual world and the rest of the creation. He reiterated how businesses should be for the good of the whole community and not just for the individual entrepreneur. As he stated, “buhay, hindi lang hanap-buhay.” This meant lives should be centered and not just livelihood.
Afterwards, our Ina Joji Pantoja shared the cultural, social and commercial impact of a social enterprise. Then I followed Ina’s lecture by facilitating buzz group discussions. I asked the participants for Talaandig values that they wanted to see in their businesses. In small groups, they looked for chants, dances, songs and other traditions that they have pertaining to doing business and identified the values that they want to apply. Again, the value of harmonious relationships with the spiritual world, with themselves, and with others were brought up. One of the group presentations showed the process of planting that they call pamula. It has seven steps, namely, buliga, urok, mais, tabon, abono, kuli, and ipo. The seven steps show the agricultural process of the Talaandig which is sensitive to the seasons and emphasizes environmental care. From this, a participant suggested to include an indigenous certification in their agricultural products aside from the GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) certification issued by the government.
After that, our Ama, Lakan Sumulong, shared the concept of farmerpreneur — being a farmer and an entrepreneur. With the people’s participation, he shared the coffee value chain so that they can appreciate the processes involved and how the coffee value is produced. Understanding the value chain can be applied to their different products as well.
Finally, the participants identified the top products that they wanted to develop as social enterprises. From the list of livelihood opportunities present in the community that they generated yesterday, all of them were asked to choose three. The five that were picked the most were —
- lutya (taro),
- vegetables, and
Various arts such as —
- painting, weaving, and beading were lumped into one category.
These six would be developed as social enterprises.
The two-day workshop was ended by Bai Liza Saway and Jay Manpatilan, both from the Talaandig community. Bai Liza gave Jinky and Joji a book titled Nalandangan: Kulturang Kapayapaan ng Inay Malinandang ng Talaandig, (Nalandangan: Talaandig Mothers’ Peace Efforts for a Culture of Peace.) Jay shared his knowledge, gave motivation to his fellow people and his appreciation to MSU-IIT and PBCI-CFP team. Bai Liza closed the program with a prayer.
In all, 42 participants attended, with 26 females and 16 males. Five of them were from Apo Agbibilin Community Agriculture Cooperative, 13 from the Indigenous Peoples’ Council, one from the Tribal Artists Gallery, two tribal weavers, four Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative, one barangay tanod, seven from Kulasi Indigenous Tribal Association, one member of the Council of Elders, four IP women, and two from Anak ng Tribu.
The next session was scheduled in October.