Ata tribe building cultural village to preserve their ways

IT WAS five long years of trust-building, capability-building, and consultations that is now symbolized by one wooden skeleton of a structure in what is envisioned to be a five-structure Panuluanan or school of cultural learning at sitio Sorayan in Barangay Colosas, Paquibato District of the Ata-Manobo tribe.

But because there's one structure that has to be completed and four more to be built, they need funds that the iEmergence Inc. is helping the village raise through a dinner for a cause on February 28, 2017 at the Balik Bukid Farm and Kitchen along Quimpo Boulevard, Matina, Davao City.

According to Henna Dazo of Swito Designs, a community-based architecture company in Davao City, the Panuluanan is made up of the main learning center, the Panuluanan itself, the gantang panlabianan or where the tribal council settles disputes and engages in conversations, the panubaran or place of worship, the buloy or traditional Ata house, and the livelihood center where they can showcase beadworks and basket-weaving.

There's a long way to go and the dinner for a cause, that goes for P600 per plate, is but one of many activities to raise the funds needed.

iEmergence media and communications officer Gabs Sagaral in last week's Art Talk at RBG Grill of Park Inn by Radisson explained that the effort started with a meeting between iEmergence's executive director Matt LeBlanc and Ata-Manobo deputy mayor Roel Arthur Ali Jr.

But the birth of the concept itself of what the tribe really needs has to come from the tribe itself, and thus it took some time before a plan emerged.

"Tambaysa communities," Sagaral said in putting lightly what they do.

"iEmergence works as a catalyst in building pathways," she added in explaining why they had to "tambay" and why initiatives have to come from the tribes and that they are not there to dictate on what the tribe has to do. In Mindanao, iEmergence is also in two other communities, a Tagakaolo village in Malita, and a Teduray village in Upi, Maguindanao.

As the iEmergence website introduced itself: "iEmergence has its beginnings with the World Christian Gathering on Indigenous People (WCGIP). It was during the first WCGIP in New Zealand in 1996 that redemption of the treasures of indigenous cultures began in a unique way. This also began the process of reaching out to other indigenous peoples as the WCGIP endeavored to harness, develop and equip emerging indigenous leaders for the next generation in their own contexts. From May to September 2008, two individuals traveled to eight countries (both western and non-western) to dialogue with indigenous youth and others from their communities about what they aspire to be in their future. The knowledge gleaned from these dialogues was merged with that already gathered from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the indigenous youth from thirteen different countries who attended the 7th WCGIP in Israel in September 2008."

In the online video explaining the project, Datu Alfredo Bontulan, who donated the five-hectare land for the center said he saw the need to donate the land as his contribution for the future of their youths.

"Kini mao gibuhat na sandayong gikan sa Taas na mahimong tuburan para mahimo namong mapanginabuhian ugma damlag sa amoang mga kabataan (This is the vessel given from Above which will become the source of our youths' livelihood in the future)," he said.

It will also introduce the Ata-Manobo culture to any visitor to their hinterland sitio, Deputy Mayor Ali said.

Sitio Sorayan, even when it is within Davao City, can only be reached through Sto. Tomas in Davao del Norte. It also requires crossing the Tuganay River on foot to reach the village, which is the tribal domain of the Ata-Manobo.

"The panuluanan will become a foundation for our tribe's culture not to disappear and instead will flourish for more generations to come," Ali said in the vernacular.

Swito Designs came in to help the tribal folks conceptualize how their cultural village will look like, through a map on Manila paper and cardboard houses to indicate which structure will be on what area during the Participatory Design Workshop the design company facilitated last January 29-31 at the sitio.

Swito Designs founder Archt. Gloryrose Dy-Metilla was also in last Tuesday's Art Talk.

During the participatory design workshop, iEmergence reported in its website, the tribal elders and community leaders shared stories of traditional architecture and created miniatures for them to visualize how their cultural learning center will look like as Swito twins strove to help the tribe rediscover the tribe's architectural traditions and strengthen community participation in designing the whole site development plan.

“The participants are community architects already because they were able to create a beautiful and sustainable Indigenous structure even without us. They only need to refine it by adding a technical perspective,” Archt. Dy-Metilla was quoted as saying.

Through the workshop, the community was able to identify the structures and spaces that they want to be in the village.

Aside from these structures, the tribe also envisions having open spaces to showcase their traditional farming methods, river rafting, and cultural shows.

The makings of the Panuluanan started much earlier though, on October 14, 2016, as iEmergence celebrated the National Indigenous People's Month to celebrate the five years of consultation and partnership with the Ata-Manobo in sitio Soraya.

After the panubad-tubad or tribal ceremony, the skeleton of the first structure was built.

Aside from organically-grown food that will be served during the February 20 dinner for a cause, iEmergence has also prepared a story-sharing session with some tribal elders.

For inquiries on tickets, call Faith at 0917-301-7312.


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