Higaonon tribe holds ritual, asks protection vs disasters

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Saturday, March 8, 2014

THE Higaonon tribe in Cagayan de Oro City has called for the protection of the Kagay-anons against the devastating effects of climate change while it has demanded for environmental preservation.

In a ritual held along the Cagayan de Oro River on Friday, Datu Sandigan, also known as Feusto Orasan, said the ritual was intended to ask "Magbabaya" (Supreme Creator) to spare the city from calamities like "Sendong."

Sandigan is the tribal leader of Higaonons in the city’s districts I and II.


Sandigan said Magbabaya is the owner and controller of everything but the creator designated Apo Pamulalakaw (Datu of the Waters) as the keeper of the streams and other bodies of water.

He said the ritual is not just for the Higaonons but for the city’s entire population because they (Higaonons) were never affected by calamities.

He added that Higaonons started their yearly rituals for Apo Pamulalakaw since Sendong struck the city in 2011.

“We’ve been doing this for the safety of our brothers and sisters,” Sandigan said.

Other than safety, Datu Sandigan told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro that the ritual was also intended to spread awareness to the people on environmental protection.

He said people should understand why they need to take care of the environment so that “no calamities like Sendong would rip us of our lives and property.”

Sandigan blamed the capitalists engaged in illegal mining and logging for instigating anger to the caretaker-deities of our environment.

“What they have in mind is how to accumulate wealth without considering the long-term devastation they are doing to the environment,” he said.

He added that mining operations in hinterland communities should be stopped especially in Higaonon’s ancestral lands.

Aside from the environmental degradation, Sandigan said the Supreme Creator will get mad if the people will exploit the environment.

Datu Sandigan commended the efforts of “Sulog: One Sendong is Enough!” and the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) in their active campaign against illegal mining and logging in the hinterland areas.

City Social Welfare and Development (CSWD) officer-in-charge Teodoro Sabugaa said the ritual the Higaonons conducted Friday is a sacred activity for the protection of our environment.

He said the lumads are the protector of our environment and they are very united and sincere in safekeeping Mother Nature.

“Our call is to further strengthen the people’s unity for the protection of the environment,” Sabugaa said.

He said the lumad culture is much better than the others because they are very united.

The Higaonons came from 17 hinterland villages -- Tumpagon, Pigsag-an, San Simo, and Dansolihon, among others.

Sabugaa said the Higaonons just came from Bisigan after holding another ritual in Bisigan Thursday.

Meanwhile, Milan Sambile, tribal affairs assistant of the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP)-Northern Mindanao, said the activity should be open to everyone so the people in the city will be aware of their demands.

He said NCIP is supportive to any endeavors the tribal communities want as long as the intention is good and for the LGUs will be aware of their rights.

“The LGUs (local government units) should be aware of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act,” Sambile said.

Sambile said the 3,000 hectares reforestation project in Oro hinterland communities should seek consent from the tribal officials in the hinterlands. (Anjo J. Bacarisas)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 08, 2014.

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