Traditional Menuvu-Meranaw peace pact featured by Kaamulan 2023 street dancing winner

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MALAYBALAY CITY  (BukidnonNews.Net/23 April 2023) A ground presentation featuring a story of a traditional peace agreement between Lumad and Moro tribes won the Kaamulan 2023’s street dancing main event on April 22, 2023.

The story featured the traditional peace pact between the Menuvu and the Meranaw tribes after deadly battles set in the pre-colonial Mindanao following a mediation and preceding an inter-cultural wedding.

The contingent from the Municipality of Kalilangan, in Bukidnon’s border with Lanao del Sur has won the ground presentation, part of the crowd-drawing street dancing (ikat-ikat ta dadalanen) competition to culminate the month-long first ever staging of Kaamulan in the post pandemic time.

The presentation, entitled Kukuman ta Rezo or judgement of conflict told the story of Matigsalog-Menuvu leader Apo Gapaw who led his tribe fight a group of wayward Meranaw warriors along the Maradugao River, which is the natural boundary between the provinces of Bukidnon and Lanao del Sur.

The conflict was resolved when the warring parties sought the mediation of a tribal leader, another Menuvu elder Datu Romapa of Barandias, a community located in the present day town of Pangantucan, Bukidnon.

To help stop the conflict between the two warring groups, Datu Romapa became the balaghusay (judge) and officiated the Tampuda Hu Balagon (cutting of vines) ritual, the indigenous custom to settle a conflict through the cutting of rattan. One of the commitments for the settlement of conflict was the marriage of Apo Gapaw to a Meranaw woman as one of the proofs that both tribes fully consent and commit to the settlement of the conflict.   

BukidnonNews.Net has reached the choreographer-author of the story but is unavailable for interview as of April 23.  

The IP and Moro traditional peace agreements do not only come out in folklore. It figures in an annual celebration, especially in the Talaandig community in Songco, Lantapan town.

The kinship of IP and Moro has historical basis. Mindanao was originally inhabited by indigenous peoples until the arrival of Arab traders in 1380 who became instrumental in the conversion of the IPs mostly in southern and western Mindanao to Islam. Ferdinand Magellan landed in Cebu in 1521.    

Starting in 2011, representatives of eight Moro tribes and most of the Lumad or non-Islamized tribes in Mindanao reaffirm their kinship. In 2012, they signed a five-point kinship covenant in a gathering filled with festive remembrance of historical relationships and aspirations for peace and unity in the island. 

Aside from signing the covenant, the participants also unveiled a monument depicting a jar of oil marking the reaffirmation of their kinship, an event witnessed among others by members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front peace panel and the International Monitoring Team in October 2012. 

The covenant, printed on white paper and etched in a plaque installed on the monument, cited mutual recognition and respect (kilalaha), mutual sharing of information (sayuda), cooperation (buliga), mutual protection and preservation of life (uyaga), and mutual obligation to help the needy (pagbatunbatuna). 

“The indigenous peoples and the Moro of Mindanao hereby acknowledge the following principles and doctrines of kinship as basis of their cooperation, understanding, and unity as descendants of the early inhabitants in the island of Mindanao,” the declaration stated.

Before signing the covenant Lumad and Moro leaders exchanged accounts of shared history passed on for generations, mostly recalling a past that belonged to “one blood.” Their accounts differed in some respects but all of them cited peace pacts. 

Among the stories the Lumad speakers shared was that of the brothers Mamalu and Tabunaway. The latter converted to Islam upon the arrival of Shariff Kabungsuan.

Moro representatives recalled stories of their ancestors’ interaction with the Lumads, including datus who shared portions of their ancestral domain to Moro people in their areas.

The contingent from Kalilangan also won 2nd runner up both in the float and street dancing competitions.   

Malaybalay City’s contingent won as champion in the street dancing competition and the 1st runner up in the float and ground competitions.

Valencia City’s contingent won as champion in the float competition, 1st runner up in the street dancing competition and as 2nd runner up in the ground presentation.

The presentation from Malaybalay City featured a healing ritual dubbed panggimukuran, which showed the performances of various rituals to make amends with a disgruntled engkanto to repent against a curse, enter into a treaty, and cause the healing of a child. In the story, the people committed to protect and honor the sanctuary of the engkanto and their apology was accepted.  The presentation featured the Inagong, “where people danced with pride and victory” in celebration.   

The presentation from Valencia City featured the story of the peopling of communities around Mts. Kalatungan and Kitanglad after the “great flood”. It showcased the love story of the two survivors of the flood, Apo Ginamayon, the matriarch, from Kalatungan and Apo Agbibilin, the patriarch from Kitanglad. Music connected the two flood survivors; Apo Ginamayon playing the tambol; Apo Agbibilin hearing and searching for the source of the music. This story touched on environmental protection and care for the earth.

The theme of this year’s staging of the Kaamulan focused on “One Bukidnon: A celebration of unity in cultural diversity.”

There were only three competing contingents in this year’s street dancing competition as other local government units were unable to prepare financially after their respective combat against COVID-19. Six towns; Quezon, Libona, Kitaotao, Cabanglasan, Lantapan, and San Fernando sent non-competing performers from indigenous communities. (Contributed by Walter I. Balane for BukidnonNews.Net)

Photo courtesy of Alphaeus B. Tulang

For more information on Kaamulan 2023, based on the BukidnonNews.Net micro coverage, please visit our Facebook page at "Bukidnon News"  

Photo courtesy of Alphaeus B. Tulang

Photo courtesy of Alphaeus B. Tulang

Photo courtesy of Alphaeus B. Tulang

Photo courtesy of Alphaeus B. Tulang

Photo grabbed from BukidnonNews.Net Livestream by Iyren D. Neri

Photo grabbed from BukidnonNews.Net Livestream by Iyren D. Neri

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