The real and the staged-A A +A
By Tyrone Velez
Thursday, August 23, 2012
THE Kadayawan festival reportedly drew 10,000 people – Davawenyos and tourists alike from other cities and other countries.
It was a record number who came and saw the bright colors of tribal dresses and floral parades.
While this boosts the city’s tourism, one article written by a UP Mindanao student noticed one group who came for the Kadayawan but was not given much attention.
Lumads from the Matigsalug tribe in the Marilog-Bukidnon boundary came all the way here. They did not join in the Indak-Indak, nor where they in the float parade. They did not sell any food or vegetables, which is contrary to the meaning of the festivity that is a bountiful harvest.
For these Matigsalugs, whose farms were ruined by rat infestation, they came to sale their wares such as indigenous bracelets to earn money. But only a few bought them.
They saw the dances, saw the costumes, but one of them remarked that the “lahi ang stepping sa mga Bisaya ug sa amo (we differ with the Bisaya’s dance steps).”
Their sales reportedly did not reach 500 pesos, which is not enough to pay for a costume the city government rented to them.
As Kadayawan ends with 10,000 enjoying the revelry, the Matigsalugs boarded a bus, with the fare kindly shouldered by the city government, going home to the mountains with empty pockets and empty farms.
They will come back to the city again, this Christmas to regale city people with songs and dances. It is sad.
While this exodus of lumads to the city has been a yearly event, a rare event happened two weeks ago in the hinterlands of Davao del Norte.
Some 23 foreigners and Filipino-Americans, contingent of the United Methodist Church in California, held a medical mission in Talaingod, Davao del Norte. The mission served hundreds of Ata Manobo lumads – men, women and children.
The mission was an effort of the Father Pops Foundation, which was formed by parish and mission workers to continue the work left by the slain priest Father Fausto ‘Pops’ Tentorio. When Father Pops was alive, he not only helped the Manobos in his parish in Arakan Valley, North Cotabato, but he also helped the Ata Manobos of Talaingod whom he learned of their needs as a member of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines. A community was built with his efforts.
Now, the missioners from America trekked the hills by motorcycle and foot that Father Pops also traversed to Talaingod. The Fil-Am and American ‘missioners’ saw the state of the lumads, near-forgotten by the government, but strive to preserve their culture and their territories, especially with threats of mining and plantations coming.
One of the Fil-Am delegates Jojo Buktaw from the Advocacy Ministry of the Rosewood United Methodist Church, promised this mission does not end here. “It will just begin as we share the stories and bring back what we have learned here,” Buktaw said.
With such worthwhile encounter, I believe the next festivals should come with ways to let us understand and experience the plight of lumads. A festivity of the indigenous should also include an exposure to the real state of lumads fighting for their land and their life.
And I guess that would truly mean feeling the vibe of their tribes.
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Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 23, 2012.