BUKIDNON VIEWS|Angaray’s Take| Rite to confirm leadership

By Loreta Sol Dinlayan

MALAYBALAY CITY (Bukidnon News/24 May) Our newly elected officials in Bukidnon are ready to take their oath on June 30, the time when, in the presence of people, they would recite their oath of office bearing the last line “So, help me God”.

It should be a sacred moment for the community marking a new start of statesmanship where people are directly involved. In a special way, this oath-taking is also a ground for confirming the leadership of the new set of officials.

I dug through the concepts of indigenous leadership during the 45-day campaign period, trying to juxtapose the present political system and the indigenous leadership, specifically on datuship.

The making of a datu takes a series of steps starting from Panlisigan where the leader-to-be would undergo a rite to drive away the ‘evil words, acts, ideas’ from him. This rite would prepare him to be anointed with wisdom, bravery and sound spirit.

A datu is confirmed to be a leader after a series of testing and rituals and part of this confirmation is the wearing of the tangkulo (headgear) that signifies authority and the bearing of a name that speaks of the characteristics and function of the ordained leader.

I used to hear from political ads the adjectives: buotan, matinabangon, sayon duolon, maalagaron, and maka-diyos attached to candidates’ names. Could these be the nature of those winning candidates as they serve the community? I pray.

Confirming someone to be a leader requires a bigger crowd’s decision and this is what we exercised last May 13. The people spoke. The people decided.

All candidates and supporters submit to this people power that happens every three years. An imaginary unified decision and agreement happen every election day; and for me that’s amazing. (Editor’s Note: Without prejudice to allegations of cheating and fraud by those who did not win and other sectors.)

It’s a real people power! This phenomenon also occurred in Manobo community by gathering the leaders from ‘four directions’ to come up with unified decision in installing a datu, as recorded.

After a series of rituals and a thorough deliberation a final decision is made. In the same manner, the result of May 13 election is final and this finality points the officials’ tasks and roles.

I came across the rite of Tagulambung hu Datu which challenged me to go further on this cultural exploration (the life of Datu Bagangbangan inspires me to do so), the rite which marks the wearing of a tangkulo by a datu. This seems to be similar with the religious leaders’ ordination.

Tagulambung hu Datu marks the beginning of performing higher and more challenging tasks like settling disputes or maintaining the territory’s socio-economic equilibrium by the datu. This rite also assures the datu of his ever ready back-up from the Magbabaya in all his endeavors. This is a form of confirmation.

As the new officials would take their oath, an imaginary tangkulo on their head would pave the way for a promised good governance. The line “So, help me God” signifies helplessness and humility in a person reciting it.  My fervent prayer is to see a better Bukidnon and a better Malaybalay.

A part of William Biernatzki’s anthropological study in Bukidnon, in 1969, aroused my interest in discovering who was that mayor he mentioned in his book which says “The Bukidnon mayor of one large town on the central plain is reported to hold a Tagulambung hu Datu rite after each successful election – another example of the prevailing tendency to interpret modern government positions in terms of the traditional role of the datu.”

I have the feeling that he was referring to Datu Bagangbangan who was the Malaybalay mayor from 1955 to 1971. Datu Bagangbangan built bangkaso and performed rituals and his precious ritual items are now kept at home including his tangkulo.

His being a datu and at the same time an elected official displays the possibility of coalescing indigenous and modern system of leadership. With this, the people of Bukidnon confirmed his leadership.

June 30 comes with the oath-taking of elected officials that include my two brothers, Manuel and Lorenzo, Jr, as Board Member and City Councilor respectively. A simple rite for Magbabaya could be a good idea. From such comes the highest form of confirmation. Pandayaan ki alan dini ta Bukidnon!

(BUKIDNON VIEWS is the opinion section of Bukidnon News. Loreta Sol L. Dinlayan is currently the in-charge of the Ethno-cultural Museum of Bukidnon State University, where she teaches social science and other subjects. She is the daughter of Datu Bagangbangan. Angaray’s (lady friend’s) Take is her column for BUKIDNON VIEWS. She can be reached through angaray_bsc@yahoo.com.)