COMMUNITY REPORT: IP, Moro, settlers reaffirm kinship for peace
By Aki L. Saway, Contributor
SONGCO, Lantapan, Bukidnon (08 March 2021/BukidnonNews.Net) From then up to now, the culture of peace in Mindanao lives on.
The heart of the Talaandig ancestral territory Tulugan, Songco, Lantapan, Bukidnon hosted the 10th commemoration of the reaffirmation of the IP (indigenous peoples)-Moro and Settlers kinship in Mindanao with the slogan "Kinship is our Legacy towards Peace and Unity".
Talaandig Tribal Administrator Datu Migketay Victorino L. Saway, the host, cited in his message that peace can be achieved through the kinship shared by the IP, the Moro and the settlers.
"We are brothers and sisters. We came from the same roots as indigenous peoples. We can attain peace by loving our family,” he told the participants.
The celebration appeared like a reunion of the "long time no see" brothers and sisters. The event marked the harmony of the first peoples in Mindanao - the indigenous peoples, the Moros and eventually the settlers. The latter has become part of the family.
Invited guests and visitors from different places throughout Mindanao came to join the peace celebration, which was first held on March 8, 2012. There were delegations from as far as Basilan, Tawi-tawi, Cotabato, and Marawi. There were those representing the local and national government, officials from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, non-government organizations, and other organizations. The media also covered the event.
The activity started with a motorcade from Brgy. Aglayan in Malaybalay City to the venue (about 20 kilometers). As soon as the group arrived in Songco, Datu Migketay Victorino Saway led a ritual by indigenous peoples, then a Moro elder led an Islamic prayer, followed by a Christian prayer from the settlers. The opening program was held in front of a monument replicating a tibud or jar, which was created by the Anak Tribu (IP youth) and was unveiled in 2012.
Greetings of peace then followed as there were greetings for the commemoration of the international women’s day.
The elders then shared stories, recollections, and testimonies about the IP-Moro-Settlers kinship.
According to the elders, "nangkatibud ha lana" or the jar of oil symbolizes peace in Mindanao. The jar was entrusted by Apu Agbibilin to his eldest son Apu Saulana. The descendants of Saulana are later known as the Talaandig people.
According to their history based on oral traditions, Apu Agbibilin instructed Apu Saulana about the jar of oil and the comb.
"I entrust this jar of oil and the comb because you are the eldest. You will be marked, remembered, respected, and be trusted (talaan, timan-an, tahudun, andigan, saligan) your descendants will be named as Talaandig," a Talaandig elder recalls.
"As times will go by, you and the descendants of your brothers will be like crumpled hair. I entrust this jar of oil and comb to you so that your descendants will be assigned to apply the oil to the hair and will comb it so that it will be smooth and be orderly," Datu Agbibilin was quoted as saying.
During the commemoration on Monday, the elders shared words of wisdom and inspirational messages. The gathering also saw entertainment with cultural performances - music and dances.
This tradition is still practiced as the laws of kinship, such as mutual recognition and respect, are still remembered. This tradition will continue as the “keepers of the jar of peace” will pass the culture of peace to the next generations.
IP and Moro elders reaffirmed the kinship from their oral traditions, which show they came from the same roots. The oral traditions told of their living testaments of mutual support and good relationships since “time immemorial”.
The kinship is also supported by the traditional peace pacts or agreements, which are still honored by indigenous peoples in the present.
Stories from ancestors Apu Agbibilin and the versions of Apu Mamalu and Apu Tabunaway all depict and reaffirm the kinship and bond of indigenous peoples and Moro brothers and sisters.
The program ended with expressions of commitment and messages towards peace and unity from government institutions, civil society organizations and the IP-Moro and Settlers kinship.
Peace can be attained by knowing who we are, by looking back to our roots and our being. To know our identity is to know the solutions to our challenges. IP-Moro and Settlers kinship shows that we can attain peace by loving and respecting our brothers and sisters. Reconciliation of our hearts and minds will last for generations.
(Aki or Nalandangan Mabantog L. Saway is an AB Sociology graduate from Xavier University. He works as an assistant of a law firm. Aki contributed this piece to BukidnonNews.Net’s Community Report.)
IN PHOTO: Datu Migketay Victorino Saway addresses the participants of the commemoration event on March 8, 2021 in front of the monument replicating the tibud or jar of oil, which symbolizes the vessel containing the customs and traditions left behind by Apu Agbibilin to Apu Saulana, the ancestor of the Talaandigs. Photo by Ron Christopher G. Neri, BukidnonNews.Net contributor