Sunday, 23 November 2014 14:25
(BY: REV. BERLIE G. YAP) “Gempya sesalum halawnan nyo. Dugo o, dugo nyo salabok dak. Pated etara.” Before the Spanish colonizers arrived or extended in the island of Mindanao and later the influx of the other diverse ethnic peoples from Luzon and Visayas, there were already earlier locals who inhabited Mindanao. They’d lived, since time immemorial, here in their own unique lives, customs and traditions. If you can take it, they were the original owners of our island.
However as time goes by, in the process of growth and modernization, a certain dilemma threatens their very own unique identities. Thus, certain programs of the government, other helps from international organizations, and international laws, through the United Nations, do seek the preservation of their very existence as a vanishing heritage.
Through intermarriages and infamous assimilations in the past, there are a number of our cultural minorities (CM) or the indigenous peoples (IPs) who already lost their identities, some are even ashamed to acknowledged that they belong to the IPs, and worse a few did already totally abandoned their roots because of the seemed confusion in their blood traces.
However, Mindanao is still very rich in culture and indigenous diversities that early morning on Friday, November 21, a crowd of IPs gathered together, in Paseo del Mar, for an event organizers dubbed as “Dayaw Festival”. Many did come yet, by land and sea travels, from the different provinces and cities in Mindanao, and also from Zamboanga City.
Dr. Pendaton, one of the festival’s organizers, said that the IPs celebrated such a gathering, for the first time in Zamboanga, to show to the rest of the Mindanaons that they are still part of the mainstream society. He remarked further that the cultural heritage of the tribal peoples in Mindanao is, after all, yet very alive and wealthy.
Despite that they were denied, persecuted and looked as second class citizens by many in the past, and still in some places today, but anyway they showed up as proud Filipinos who also deserve to be acknowledged and participate in the momentum of progress of the country.
Pendaton as well expressed his personal gratitude to the leadership of Mayor Beng Climaco because they were permitted to showcase their cultures and to conduct peaceably their said festival, even for two days, here in Zamboanga City.
Part of the event was a parade in the main streets downtown as per tribal group wore their own distinctive ethnic costumes. Each tribe bore unique signatures through their attires and in their individual colors.
By curiosity, but understandably it is any media-personnel’s instinct, reporters of baranggay eMedia wanted to confirm the authenticity of the participants that if indeed they really are IPs and not just pretenders. They were asked to deliver greetings in their own dialects before the camera. Unbelievably, without adieu, they excited expressed themselves in their own tongues. One of those who covered the event was partner Arvie del Rosario, he was awed to hear the diversity of dialects which he heard for the first time.
City Councillor Ismael Musa, the IP representative in the City Council, clarified that it was not the plan of the IPs to come up and present a manifesto or a position paper on the issue of the Bangsamoro Basil Law (BBL). However, he mentioned that one of their desires is to audience the congressmen of the ad hoc committee to personally hear the content of the said BBL.
It was not their agenda to also openly express to the public a support or a contradiction to the bill, instead they only wanted to know their rights and benefits under the BBL once the Bangasamoro identity can be in-placed.
It is now a law in the Local Government Code that each Local Government Unit (LGU) must be represented with a seat coming from the IPs. Indeed, the Republic shows its sincerity to uphold the rights of the IPs.
“And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live yon all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us” Acts 17:26-27
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