“Igpanuyadug Sa Abaga Ta Bayug” is now the call of the Indigenous People all over Mindanao and such call has reverberated even reaching no less than our beloved President, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
To understand from where that call is coming from, let me first go back in history. The indigenous cultures world-wide have understood and experienced life as a continuum between human and non-human species and between present, past and future generations. An 1848 speech attributed to Chief Seattle of the Suquamish tribe captures this continuum: “How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them? Every part of this earth is sacred to my people . . .” It is so amazing to know that the culture of the Indigenous People has shown the oneness and interconnectedness of all of God’s creation.
Indeed, the Unseen Being (the Creator) is seen through the wonderful scenery of nature evolving through billions of years. As vividly expressed by the Indigenous People, “Now we know that in our pilgrimage through this life there are holy places where one is made to feel kinship with the divine, Magbabaya; where the heavens seem to bend low over our heads and the angels come and minister to us.” It is there where the IPs connect with Magbabaya. Visit Mindamora Falls where you can see the 3-story waterfalls against the backdrop of radiating plants and blooming flowers and above are flocks of birds hovering above as if dancing to the music of the wind. What could be more amazing than that but now that beautiful scenery is being wrecked by powers-that be to transform that holy place into a tourist spot to make money.
Indeed, humanity has given high veneration to the profit motive that has captured the mind of all governments, all institutions, all universities and even all religious groups. There is so much denigration of spiritual values and abuses of the rights of the IPs. Let us see the amazing culture of the Indigenous People and the love to Magbabaya.
What was even more awesome then that for thousands of years, the Indigenous People have lived abundantly in a land oozing with ecological resources in the spirit of sharing and services to one another. They even collectively transformed the land into rice terraces, using technologies that trust in the inherent processes of nature.
They were one with nature, knowing when to plant by just looking up the Big Dipper, when the cup–like formation of the stars is seen as tilted that water will flow, that is a sign that it will rain.
They were once the masters of the land that no one owned because private ownership was not in their language for no one can own the land that outlasts him/her. On the contrary, the land will own us as we will all must bow down to the majesty of the land because all will succumb to it when we die. That cultural heritage of Res Communis, that spirit of sharing and service has continued through the years, passing on to the present generation the harnessing of collective power of the Indigenous People which was manifested before in producing the 8th wonder of the world.
The contemporaneous society of the Indigenous People has created a different world applying the same formula of harnessing the collective power which is, the genuine essence of cooperativism.
Nothing could match the story of empowerment of the Indigenous People than that of the newly organized cooperatives of the IPs in the six barangays in Kibulag, Talakag, Bukidnon called the “Igpanuyadug Sa Abaga Ta Bayug Agriculture Cooperative” whose razon d’etre is to protect the Mindamora Falls which is now threatened by two LGUs nearby which are now transforming the area into a tourist spot and in doing so, wrecking so much havoc to the environment. “Abaga Ta Bayug” has been the sacred ground of the IPs not only to the more than 2,000 IP-members of the cooperative but to the millions of IPs in Mindanao.
Without even informing or consulting the IPs, these IGUs dared to intrude and the Chieftains of some the tribes are puzzled no end. “Tumindig po ang aming balahibo.” They wrote our beloved President Mayor Rodrigo Duterte “na sana po matigil na ang kasuwapangan ng iilan dahil kung ito po as magpapatuloy, kami po ay handang magpakamatay at pumatay.”
By the way, the elected Chairman of the newly organized cooperative to protect Mindamora Falls is Sultan Abdul Amoran who is half-maranaw and half-higaonon. He is the Kumander of the Special Unit of the MILF North Eastern Mindanao Front with some 1,500 combatants based in Camp Arkam, Maguing, Lanao del Sur. I thank Sultan Amoran for listening to the plea to have a cease fire, form themselves into cooperative to fight the number one enemy of the country which is poverty and social injustice. Ang sagot po nila, “Mga pagari akon samasama tanu kooperatiba. Isa lang ang armas namin ngayon, KOOPERATIBA! Through cooperativism, I firmly believe that the second longest war in the world, the Mindanao War can now be stopped. But please let us join hands to STOP THE ON-GOING DEGRADATION OF MINDAMORA FALLS, the sacred ground of the IPs!
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