Of tribals and the BARP old guards-A A +A
By Benny Balweg
Sunday, September 15, 2013
WHEN I was with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), I often heard the remarks that members of some indigenous communities are easy-going, lazy, not caring for the morrow. Others are described, rightly or not, as outright parasitic. An example of the last mentioned are members of a tribe in Northern Luzon. I was told that when a co-member of theirs get married and notice that the new in-law has supplies of rice in the house, they stay in that house until the supply is consumed arguing that when you have something, you should share it with others. It is only when there is no more of the supply that they move on to go away. I was not told if they ever return later upon hearing of a new supply. Most probably no more, for ordinarily culture is not for abusive purposes; just a way of life started initially for some good purpose, like in the case at hand, where the purpose was to show how lucky they were that their relative or co-tribal married a rich man, and the rich man, in turn, would feel proud of the compliment.
As to the ascription of being lazy or improvident, I had an observation as a kid among the Gobang ethnic group. They had no worry of what to eat the next meal because there were plenty of resources in the environment and there were not so many people then. Fresh food all the time, no need for preservative facilities. Storage for non-rotting products like granaries, yes, but not for those susceptible to rotting. They got from nature what was enough for family needs. No over-exploitation of nature's endowments. Even the practice of slash and burn agriculture, popularly known as kaingin system, had its rules and controls so that what did not need to be burned would not be burned.
Self-policing is a strong feature among tribes people, for which reason it can be said that the Busol area problem in Baguio is caused by a misapplication of the ancestral land claim. You cannot claim for exclusive private use what is vitally needed as water source for the ili (town with its inhabitants). Ancestral land right is a valid basis for land ownership but it must not disregard another more urgent right.
Tribals are for communalism, not selfish individualistic "pangsarili" attitude. Right was a tribal leader who declared, "You can sell the house that belongs to you, you built it. But don't sell the land, it belongs to God." Others stood pat on the dictum: "You don't own the land, the land owns you."
In other words, you cannot really sell it. There must be something in the land that the individual owns but not the land itself. If this line of thinking is not given value, unbridled science may turn Planet Earth from a living blue into nothing but an asteroidal debris like the grim remains now traversing between Mars and Jupiter.
The BARP Foundation Inc. has just been through with its 2013 Board of Trustees election to replace five outgoing of the total fifteen incumbents. The election took place last August 31, 2013 as part of the monthly general assembly activities.
Despite efforts to inject "blood" into the policy-making BOT, the mandate was clear: it was still the old guards, mostly of the original group of 17 in 1999, that solidly won the race. Readily leading in the counting was hulky Monroe Taclawan followed closely by eagle-eyed auditor Cristeta Antonio. Third was lanky Tol Opiniano; fourth, strategic planner Ben Andam and fifth, Dr. "Plas" Abuan, the never-say-"die" man.
To those who did not make it, better luck next time, especially to service-oriented Conrad Catral and Pare Abella of the Royal Printers outfit.
The clear lesson is that if the originals stay truly united and permit themselves to be guided by their initial enthusiasm, BARP will keep undauntedly marching on, despite any trying problem, to serve as it had served.
Ma. Gina B. Sison's original family is expecting her arrival from across the big blue ocean one of these days. She was the first to serve as lady PMT commander during her heydays at the Baguio Tech Science High.
Welcome! Welcome, our very dear daughter. God keep you safe on the way.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 15, 2013.