THE Ata tribe community in Davao City targets to establish more Panuluanan, a cultural center in all barangays in Paquibato District to preserve their traditions and establish better appreciation for their fellow Lumad as well as the public.

Speaking during Monday’s Kapehan sa Dabaw at The Annex of SM City Davao, Bob Ali of the Ata Tribe said that with the good feedback they are getting due to the establishment of the first Panuluanan or school of cultural learning at Sitio Sorayan in Barangay Colosas, Paquibato District, tribal leaderS from different barangays also expressed interest on having one in their respective barangays.

He said that there are a total of 13 barangays in Paquibato and 11 of which are Lumad communities.

“Naa mi 13 ka barangay na possible mabutangan tanan kay tanan tribo pod interesado sila sa ing-ana nga proyekto na kana lage pagpabalik sa pagtoon sa mga kabatan-onan kung nindot ang dagan sa amoang Panuluanan sa may Colosas, among ipakatag namo (All tribes are interested with the project that encourages the youth to be educated. If it goes well, we iwill have it replicated),” he said.

Through this, the rich traditions of the tribe will be restored and will be passed on to the younger generation to keep it alive amid the development and influences that they are experiencing.

The Pamuluanan has also different components, there is gantang panlabianan or where the tribal council settles disputes and engages in conversations; the Panubaran or church where they worship their Manama of God; and Kahibulungan or the place where the Lumad community will gather to showcase their talents and perform their traditional dances.

There is also Balay Turugan, a dwelling place for the visitors or even tourist who would visit their community and Balay Kauyahan where they display their works and products such as their beadworks.

Ali said that the youth will be more educated about their culture and will ignite pride for their tribe. This will somehow prevent their fellow Lumads to be easily encouraged joining rebel groups.

“Mao na among paglantaw tungod sa kakulangon sa edukasyon sa kabataan sa bukid, siguro isa pod ni nga makatabang ang Pamuluanan kay kung iagi nimo sila sa trinibo nga paagi, mas dali makuha ang mga kabataan. Didto nagatudlo mi sa mga kabataan ug amo gina encourage nga dili ikaulaw kung unsa ang tribo (Due to lack of education, Ata youth were encouraged to join the rebel groups but I believe that with this cultural center, the youth will not be carried away. We are also teaching the youth to be proud of their tribe and not be ashamed of their culture),” he said.

The project was initiated by their elders in partnership with iEmergence, a division of Indigenous Pathways, a non-profit/non-stock organization focusing on holistic community and leadership development in indigenous and tribal communities.

iEmergence's executive director Matt LeBlanca, a Canadian who also hails from an indigenous community called Mi'kmaq in the Eastcost of Canada, said that they have been helping a lot of IP communities across the country and they’ve been working with Ata tribe since 2011. He said that he could actually relate to the local community here, similar to his IP heritage that also has the history of colonization and is facing the effects of Westernization.

He added that the project will give locals and tourists a deeper understanding about their presence and will also uphold the culture of respect to their traditions. It is a huge factor for the development of a community.

Meanwhile, they are inviting the public to join them for a tour in their traditional house in Magsaysay Park from March 15 to 18. The public, who could not go to Paquibato, will have the chance to experience firsthand the hospitality of Ata and their way of life.