BAGOBO TAGABAWA FARMERS LOOK AT ‘DEVELOPMENT’ THROUGH THEIR INDIGENOUS IDENTITY
The Binaton Bagobo Tagabawa Farmers Livelihood Association (BBTAFLA) in Barangay Binaton, Digos City committed themselves to look at long-term Inclusive Development Program based on their indigenous identity. This sense of ‘who they are’ would determine the production and marketing of their farm products—such as vegetables, coffee, flowers, and handcrafts. They will also share with outsiders their Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices through stories, arts, and native products. In coordination with the government, civil society, and business sectors, they will open their community as a learning center for Indigenous cultural understanding, peacebuilding, and reconciliatory initiatives.
“Among gi-awhag ang tanan gikan sa ubang lugar para ipakita sa ila kung kinsa mi na mga Bagobo Tagabawa (We’re inviting others from other places to share with them who we are as Bagobo Tagabawa),” said a woman leader of the Binaton Bagobo Tagabawa Farmers Livelihood Association (BBTAFLA). “Di’ lang mi mahitungod sa coffee farming. Kay kami mga Bagobo Tagabawa naga-tanum og bulak, kape, gulay, abaca, ug uban pang gama sa pag-uma (We’re not just about coffee farming. We are Bagobo Tagabawa who grow flowers, coffee, vegetables, abaca, and other farm products).”
“Ug kana ang pag-uswag sa panginabuhi sa mga pamilya sa Binaton (That’s how the livelihood of the families in Binaton would progress),” said another participant.
Being. Doing. Having.
Our Social Entrepreneurial Seminar starts with the exploration of one’s being—as a community and as an individual. In most Indigenous Peoples’ value system we have been working with, the family and the community determine and affirm one’s individual identity.
During the 4th of a six-month training held last 05-06 May 2021, our workshop began with a question: “Who are we as Bagobo Tagabawa?” Afterwards, we led them in a personal reflection process: “Who am I as a Bagobo Tagabawa? Most participants actively shared their view of communal identity. When asked about their view of personal identity, they said that it’s the same as their communal identity.
It is our conviction that sustainability and regeneration actually happen when the people use their indigenous ways of doing things. These indigenous ways of doing things determine what the community would be having.
Bagobo Tagabawa Identity
Sonia D. Mangune’s book, Tagabawa Bagobo, has been our primary reading when we started exploring the possibility of doing Inclusive Development in this area. Her research was summarized by the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA).
We also learned that the Tagabawa Bagobo language is under the radar of UNESCO’s Endangered Languages Programme.
The City of Davao features the Bagobo Tagabawa tribal arts and culture every year during the city’s Kadayawan celebration.
Our participants shared who they are as Bagobo Tagabawa from their personal and communal experiences. These are our understanding of what we heard during the above-mentioned workshop:
- We are Madigger — good, well, beautiful
- We worship the Creator — Manama
- Our land and people are protected by Apu Sandawa and guardian spirits
- Our ancestral domain is located in Mount Apo and vicinity
- We are one with our mountains, rivers, farm lands, waterfalls, forests
- We have our own customary laws based on our indigenous spirituality
- We are hospitable—we offer coffee and native pastries as traditional welcome offerings to visitors
- We traditionally grow most of our food
- We have a high sense of dignity and self-respect—we do not beg
- We still appreciate and practice most of our arts—dances, music, chants, fashion, weaving, handcrafts
- We are peace-loving people and avoid war
- When forced to defend ourselves, we also engage in war
- Traditionally, our men practice having more than one wife in accordance with our customary laws
- Many of us converted to Christianity — Catholic, Protestants, Evangelicals, and other Christian sects
- Many of our practices and rituals based on indigenous spirituality are being changed by Christianity
- Many of our customary laws are being changed by the laws of the Republic of the Philippines
- Many of our young people and young professionals hide their indigenous identity due to discrimination
- Many of our cultural practices, arts, and products are being misused and abused for commercial or political purposes mostly without our expressed permission
- Our relationship with those outside our indigenous community is based on mutual respect—no amount of material wealth or ‘development projects’ would be deeply and truly appreciated when we feel disrespected
- We welcome those outside our indigenous community into our ancestral lands, but they are not welcome to use it for personal, business, development, religious, or any other purpose without Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC)
- We are saddened, offended, and violated by the fact that many people with political, military, or economic powers have encroached into our ancestral domain without FPIC