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The Cultural Heritage of the IPs Is Amazing

Kim’s Dream  Orlan Ravanera 

Pastor Noli Garvida Protects Indigenous Culture

As published in the social media recently, His Holiness Pope Francis has begged  for  forgiveness for the evil done by the Christians to the Indigenous Peoples in  Canada for the assimilation of their culture  that destroyed their cultural heritage  It is so amazing for His Holiness that  with all humility, it has dawned upon humanity now that because of unbridled materialism and consumerism, Mother Earth has been sacrificed tot the altar of greed and profit by contemporaneous development paradigm.  Such has been reinforced by thousands of concerned scientists worldwide in their pronouncement that we are now in the cataclysmic period of planetary emergency with the glaring description that the earth is just “one minute before midnight.” Indeed, Pope Francis is correct when he urgently manifested in His Encyclical Letter, LAU DA TU SI, “to hear the cry of the poor and of Mother Earth.”

It has indeed become imperative to save Mother Earth as we are now facing  its 6th extinction.  No less than an Oxfam Study has urgently given an alarm because as concluded in that Study, “there is so much denigration of spirituality as high veneration to the profit-motive has already captured the mindset of all governments, all institutions, all universities and even of religious groups.” 

It is in this context that I am sharing the spiritual consciousness now looming in the hinterlands of Cagayan de Oro that we must now be aware-of to bring back the cultural heritage of the Indigenous Peoples to save Mother Earth. 

History tells us that each one must undergo a transformation of the heart or spirit by shedding-off one’s apathy or be conscienticized inwardly to scale heights of spirituality as human beings are consciousness/awareness for such transformation must have social impact. The message is resoundingly clear: one’s transformation may produce a saint but has no effect in society unless oppressive structures and systems are changed.  Such truism has well been exemplified in the life of the late Arch. Oscar Romero of El Salvador, “When I give food to the poor, they called me a saint; when I asked why they are poor, they called me a communist.”

Unknown to many, there is an on-going spiritual awaking in the hinterlands of Cagayan de Oro especially in the life of the Indigenous Peoples, the Higaonons, whose spirituality has been touched by an amazing spiritual leader named Pastor Noli Garvida of the Christ, the Livingstone Fellowship when he began his missionary work, touching base with Lumads some three decades ago. 

Yes, destruction of the ecosystems has characterized the life of our ecological people who have been living in the forests sustainably for thousands of years, relying on these millions of life forms of flora and fauna as their marketplace and pharmacies. They know what leaves to boil to cure diabetes, high blood pressure, fever or even cancer.  Want to eat “Osa” or “baboy-damo”? No problem.  They can hunt anytime. 

Based on a Satellte Map in Cagayan de Oro alone, the fifty thousand hectares if dipterocarp forest and all the millions if not billions of living endemic dipterocarp organisms are nowhere to be found having been massively logged, exploited and massacred by six logging companies.  But a portion of these flora and fauna in the natural forest miraculously stand which I saw when I took the courage of traveling with Pastor Noli and colleagues after two hours of what seemed to be a never-ending uphill climb. 

My curiosity on why there is a miraculous preservation was answered after dialoguing with the tribal leaders and pastor Noli.  There is this realization that our Indigenous Peoples, as Pastor Noli would describe them, are indeed special people who were once upon a time, masters of the land using it in the spirit of sharing and service, they did not own, for how can you own something that will outlast you.  You cannot own the land, the land will own you.

But powerful loggers came brandishing Timber License Agreement (TLAs) and their life was never the same again. The Lumads have lost everything including their cultural heritage because of impoverishment. But one man came equipped with high spirituality believing that protecting God’s vanishing creation is the highest form of worship.  What is amazing in the pastoral  work of Pastor Noli with the HIgaonons  is that one’s spiritual awakening in following Christ goes with it serving the least of our brethren and in becoming stewards of God’s creation.  Yes, there is enough for everyone’s needs but not for some people’s greed. 

It is great to know that one’s spirituality has touched thousands of lives to effect the much need paradigm shift towards a kind of development that dignified the essence of man as created in the “image and likeness of God,” never subservient to unbridled materialism and consumerism. 

When one’s spirituality is enhanced, miracles follow. In praying over a leper in barangay Pigsag-an, Pastor Noli, to everyone’s surprise, did a Christ-like miracle of curing the sick.  This was even followed by even a more biblical-like miracle of putting a dead woman back to life.  Two- lady  pastors in Sitio Butay, Dansolihon, had jointly prayed over a dead woman’s body who have just died after giving  birth for reason of hemorrhage,  After the outpouring of so much blood, breathing had stopped manifesting the leaping of the woman’s soul to the Great Beyond.  Thirty minutes later, the dead did breathe again showcasing an astonishing miracle. To God be the glory!

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