The Bukidnons

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By Ver F. Pacete

As I See It

Thursday, August 28, 2014

TO DATE, we have a community of Bukidnons at Sitio Sibato, Barangay Guimbala-on in Silay City. This group of indigenous people is recognized by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). Their ancestors who arrived in Silay before World War II came from the hills between the provinces of Iloilo, Antique and Capiz.

There was scarcity of food in the mountains of Panay during that time. Their ancestors took the “paraw” (big sailboat) and went to the neighboring island, Negros. They tried to work as “sacadas” (transient workers) in the upland haciendas of Silay but they found out that sugarcane farming is hard compared to rice farming which is their occupation in Panay.

They left the haciendas and went to the peak of the hills of Guimbala-on. They practiced their own civilization and way of life. They raised carabaos, goats and other animals. They cleaned the slopes and went into contour farming, planting rice, corn, camote and vegetables.


They constructed nipa huts in cluster near the stream. They wove their clothes and made instruments for hunting and farming.

They practiced the nature worship of their ancestors. Their rituals include chanting, singing, rain dance, mimicry and offering of produce to the spirits of nature. They have made use of water for their irrigation system and utilized organic fertilizer and pesticides to grow their plants and herbs. They have also developed community food using domesticated animals, vegetables, fruits and herbs.

They have enriched their culture with their costume design, embroidery and they have discovered the art of dyeing using the bark and sap of some trees. They danced “binanog” on special occasions. This is patterned after the movement of the “banog” birds. They used spear, bow and arrow, blow gun and “ginunting” (sharp and pointed bolo) in hunting for wild animals.

The children learned the making of traps for fish and animals from the parents. Their agronomy is based on stars, movement of the clouds, direction of the wind, position of the moon, color of sunrise and sunset, and the sound of the frogs, ducks, lizards, and owls. The younger generation learns how to read and write using leaves and bark of trees. They learned to interpret by carving symbols in bamboo poles.

The adults instructed the children how to weave mats, cogon and coconut leaves for roof and walls. They put up a community center to learn values and culture of their ancestors. They selected their leaders who formulated laws as suggested by the community. The girls learned household chores and hygiene from their mother. The father taught farming and self-defense to their male children. Respect for the elders and women was given priority.

The new generation. The Bukidnon tribe in Sibato is presently assisted still by the NCIP, Silay City Government and Department of Education-Silay by seeing to it that Indigenous People Education is properly implemented by providing the IPED curriculum, non-formal education through day care centers and livelihood programs. The third generation Bukidnons have become teachers, small businessmen, barangay leaders, professionals and some have learned new technology to improve their organic farms. Bukidnon teachers love to go back to Sibato to become implementers of IPED.

The Silay Tourism Program. With the advent of IPED, Silay Tourism Office came into the picture to help the Bukidnons preserve and conserve their culture. The tourism staff members have interaction with the Bukidnons when it comes to the establishment of culture as pillar of sustainable development. We are there to assist them to advance creativity and diversity of artistic expression. They want to promote strong sense of nationhood and pride in being Filipinos like the others through culture and arts.

Our Agriculture and Livelihood program helps establish a heritage-based creative economy. We encourage them to participate in regional culture and arts program. With their new knowledge, they may now advance creativity and diversity of artistic expression. They have now increased their awareness, recognition and protection of the traditional arts.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 28, 2014.


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