Bae Matumpis

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Friday, September 23, 2011


CLAD in their colorful traditional costumes, members of the Indigenous Peoples from around Davao Region gathered at Bantawan Amphitheater, Tribu K'Mindanawan in Ma-a, Davao City, for the customary ceremony of anointing a leader to defend and promote the rights of the lumads.

The investiture rite of Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on cultural communities, as "Bae Matumpis" was administered by the Mindanao Indigenous People's Conference for Peace and Development (MIPCPD), some Davao City deputy mayors and tribal leaders from Davao region.

The solemn ritual started with Panubad-tubad, a prayer calling for the spirit's guidance. It was followed by a Padugo, a sacrificial offering of slaughtered chicken for cleansing wherein the animal blood was applied to everyone present to protect them from the bad spirit.

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The highlight of the event was the dressing up of Legarda with a tribal outfit, which also means she has taken the role of "Bae Matumpis" and the responsibilities that come with it.

"Bae Matumpis is the rightful title for Legarda for being caring and compassionate to the needs of the IP's," Datu Joel Unad, MIPCPD chair, said.

During the ceremony, the tribal leaders gave the lady senator five pieces of native chicken eggs that represent the five pillars of the Indigenous Peoples that she needs to safe guard. These are the Rights to Ancestral Domain, Self-Governance and Empowerment, Social Justice, Cultural Integrity and the Right to Enter into Agreement and Peace Pacts.

In her acceptance speech, Legarda vowed to continue protecting and preserving the rights of the 110 ethno-linguistic groups in the country.

In Mindanao alone, there are 24 major tribes, namely: Mamanwa, Manobo, Higaonon, Banwaon, Talaandig, Pulangihon, Umajamnon, D'babawon, Mandaya, Tigwahanon, Langilan, Manguangan, Matigsalog, Ata, Arumanon, Obu-Manuvu, Tagabawa, Mansaka, T'boli, B'laan, Tagacaolo, Subanon, Teduray Dulangon, Clato-Bogobo, and Guiangon.

Prior to this event, Legarda was in Tagum City, Davao del Norte for the two-day Indigenous Peoples Regional Assembly that her office convened, in cooperation with the National Commission on the Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), to listen and discuss the major issues, concerns and needs of the IP's in Mindanao to include mining, deforestation and climate which create an impact to the lives and living of the IPs.

Meanwhile, Legarda has authored three Senate bills that hope to strengthen the IPs and their rights. Senate Bill (SB) 2858 or the Ethnic Origin Act seeks to acquire accurate and aggregated data of the lumads by conducting a national survey through the National Statistics Office.

It has been the practice of IPs not to register the birth, marriage or even the death of their loved-ones with the Local Civil Registry in their barangays or town.

Another bill is SB 2831 or the Traditional Property rights of Indigenous Peoples Act that will safeguard the indigenous knowledge, rituals, dances and music from being stolen or misuse by groups and individuals, local and foreign alike. This bill mandates the payment of royalties for the use of their intellectual property.

Finally, SB 2814 or the Anti-Ethnic Racial Profiling Discrimination Act hopes to lessen, if not eliminate, discrimination cases against persons on account of ethnic or racial origin and/or religious affiliation or belief.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 24, 2011.

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