NCIP probes ‘stolen rights’ of Kabayan town-A A +A
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
KABAYAN, Benguet – The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) will investigate the alleged ‘stolen rights’ of the indigenous peoples here over their cultural heritage - mummies.
Town Councilor Salvador Araoco revealed the sentiments of the IPs during the Baguio City, La Trinidad, Itogon, Tuba, and Tublay (BLISTT) forum on planning for heritage tourism held in the city last January 4.
He said it seems like the country’s National Government stole the rights of the municipality as the rightful owner of their mummies by declaring them as national treasures without the consent of the people.
He added since the declaration during the Marcos administration, some mummies went on missing until today.
NCIP Regional Director Sancho Buquing responded on the complaint of the councilor saying they never heard of the issue until the forum.
He promised to investigate on the missing mummies and the alleged ‘stolen rights’ of the people.
The chief added that IPs should be consulted first on any cultural development for them to say their final decision because he said the answer will come from the people and not from his agency.
Buquing added they will investigate the lack of consultation of IPs on the declaration of mummies as national treasures.
However, he said the NCIP will also assess the competence of the town IPs if they could protect their cultural heritage. He wanted to avoid the deterioration of the heritage once the rights will be returned to the IPs of the municipality.
Meanwhile, Department of Tourism Regional Director Purification Molintas provided choices for the folks of Benguet if they will allow the mummified body of the great Apo Anno as tourism heritage or keep it for themselves.
The suggestion created various contradicting opinions among the officials and the people of Benguet.
Buquing said if they will look at the economic effect of commercializing Apo Anno, it will contribute a lot. But he said if they will consider the cultural effects, officials and the people must be careful.
He added mainstreaming culture should be limited for the preservation and protection of cultural heritage.
In 1918, Apo Anno’s body was stolen and was believed to be exhibited overseas. The Benguet folk tried to locate the mummy but they failed to find it.
However, in 1967 it rained continuously for 45 days. The people of Buguias were determined to locate the body of Apo Anno because of the bad signs. In 1998, negotiations started for the retrieval of the mummy.
And in 1999, Anno’s body was brought back to its resting place in Nabaligcong.
Apo Anno is a well–known cultural image of Benguet because of his great deeds when he was alive. He was then a great hunter, traveler, and a tribal mediator.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on January 08, 2013.