Personality profile: Giving back to his tribe

THIS person was empowered by different tribes and cultures and now he is determined to give back to the tribe the same empowerment he got.

William "Dondon" Banzali, 40, was born in Talisay, San Isidro, Davao Oriental. His mother was from Leyte, his father is of Kagan descent.

He acquired polio when he was four, but this did not stop him from doing community work for indigenous communities as a community based IP organizer in Davao City.

Banzali is currently the community based eco-cultural organizer in the Kadayawan Village and is also organizing tribes in hinterland areas of the city.

Banzali said climbing mountains can sometimes be hard for him but nothing is difficult when your heart is on it.

"Actually, lisud siya...ang tulay nako sa pagsaka og bukid, bisan unsa ka bakilid siya o unsa ka lalom sa sapa, ang kasing-kasing sa tribo ug kasing-kasing nako pag magkatakdo siya (It is hard... but my bridge going up the mountains, no matter how steep it is or how deep the river is, is the heart of the tribe and my heart for them)," he said.

Banzali added, "Buhaton ka nila... ginasabot ka nila. Ikaw nga naay kasingkasing sa ilaha dawaton ka nila, ikaw nga naay kasingkasing para sa ila buhaton nimo ang tanan namaka-abot sa ilaha (They will carry you...they will accept you especially if you have the heart for them and if you are someone very willing to reach them)."

He said all these years interacting with the different tribes allowed him to better understand them.

"Exposure to various cultures gave me knowledge, it does not give you much salary but the biggest pay is that you get to learn various cultures and you get to see them that they can stand on their own," Banzali said.

He said his exposure to various kinds of tribe started back when he was a young boy.

"There was a time when my cane was thrown (by a bully)... someone came to my rescue, a boy from Badjao Tribe and I did not know him," he said.

His disability became his strength and his way to experience various cultures.

He said that being part Moro, he was able to get his scholarship in college through agencies that support IPs and persons with disabilities.

Banzali finished his course in computer programming, saying that it was during college that he was able to hone his skills in community organizing.

He said that after studying, he worked in Cotabato in a Bangsamoro Organization for seven years. He was also a volunteer before at the United Youth of the Philippines that covers many forms of advocacies on peace, drug abuse, and environment.

He was also previously employed in an agri-business firm for ten years. Currently, he is connected with the Davao City Tourism Operations Office.

Banzali said as the community based eco-cultural organizer in the Kadayawan Village, it is a big challenge every day with the sensitivities and complexities of the tribes.

His only wish right now is that he would one day see the different tribes truly empowered.

"What I want is to see them involved in the mainstream, inclusive in all aspects, in politics, economics, with their voices represented in the government, all equal. Not only in that aspect but also in other areas where their rights are deprived," Banzali said.

He said his current job is tough as he finds ways to properly communicate and work with the different tribes.

"Mura siya ug bato nga gahi daw pero tuluan sa tubig pirmaninti mabangag siya (It is like a rock. It's hard but a constant flow of water can make a hole in it)," he said.

Banzali firmly believes that you may not achieve your advocacy now but you may achieve it in the next generation.

"Ang advocacy flexible siya, importante lang dili ka hopeless because you're totally defeated if you will be hopeless," he said.
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