Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bicol Express!

Road Journal ng Batang Lakwatsera

October 27

I am looking for Diego and Swiper. Will you join the adventure? :)

I had packed by bags a day before since I spent the night with my friends. At 10:30 AM at Davao international airport, my immediate supervisor Ate Elvie had just arrived from her Belgium trip. We no longer have enough time to meet so while she’s waiting for her luggage, we had our short program meeting. Updates and little chitchat with her trip. And as promised, she gave me the Belgian chocolates. Sweet.

At the waiting lounge, I’ve met Anna, 21 years old on her first plane trip. Her first trip outside her hometown and alone. She’s going to Zamboanga to meet their ‘recruiter’- direct hiring for Malaysia, she said. She doesn’t know about the check-in policies and the hand-carry baggage. She checked-in her only back pack with all of her valuables inside not knowing she can bring it along. All she was holding was her ticket and ID. I don’t know if the direct hiring for Malaysia is true. As our talk progressed, she shared that there are six of them going to Zamboanga, coming from different areas of Mindanao and Visayas, and they will be going to Malaysia (through backdoor, most likely). She’s telling me she’s doing it because she wanted to help her family, that she is not paying anything for her employment. She sees her recruiter as a savior who'll help her in her dreams of helping her family. But how many times have we heard of Filipinos, majority are women and children given promises of employment and good life? Most are from the far flung barrios who only wanted the best for their families but tricked into prostitution? These thoughts were floating on my head as the PA system calls their flight. She bid goodbye smiling. I asked her to pray and be vigilant, that the work abroad may or may not be high paying. I pray for her safety.

"How many Anna’s do we need to lose? When will be the time of sending out OFWs will no longer be the option for employment? *sigh*

By 2pm, I arrived at NAIA and Brod Wani fetched me with his motorcycle. I never tried riding a motorcycle in the traffic metro. Brod Wani is my official sundo and ticket buyer. He bought the bus ticket early reservation as it’s already nearing the long holidays. I had the 4pm bus. No more time to recharge. It’s raining hard and we finally decided for my health’s sake, I I need to take the cab going to Alimall than insist on riding the cool motorcycle. I was already starving , and after putting my luggage at my designated I decided to buy some food at Dunkin Donuts. The service crew is excruciatingly sloooooooow. When I went back, the bus was no longer there! I was about to panic, then the conductor from the nearby bus pointed at the gate. Great, just great.

A nice start for my first 12-hour straight bus travel.
We had our three strops at San Pablo, Laguna, another town in Laguna ( I forgot to ask since I was already too sleepy) and in Naga City.

October 28.

I arrived at 4AM in Daraga. My sister is excited to see me. She’s still awake when I texted her to fetch me. It’s drizzling. I slept until 9am. By 10am, my sister and I went to Albay Capitol. And I was surprised (more of annoyed) that my sister doesn’t know where the Capitol is! Imagine she lived her for a year or two already and she haven’t explored the area. Unbelievable. One thing we need to do is explore the area where we live. We must know our own city/town/ province. Well, I am quite guilty of this when some friends wanted to visit my hometown, I could not advise them what's the best place to visit. So I started knowing and learning more about my town. For instance, I am surprised to know that people from South Cotabato has NEVER been able to go and visit Lake Sebu. We aim to visit other places to explore yet we never explore our very own provinces. One important trait is to be tourists and tourist guides of our places. We have to learn what our province has to offer. AND we have to learn the history of our place.

So for my trip here, it’s I and my sister who will be seeing the things/places for the first time! Before coming here, I read an article in Sunstar about Bicol and the places to visit and I wrote them down. The first place I wanted to see is the Magayon Art Gallery at the lobby of Albay Capitol. Much to my dismay, not much paintings were left on exhibition.

Then to prepare for my itineraries, I went to the City Tourism office to ask for a map (even though I don’t know how to read a map) like what most foreign tourists do. At the back of the tourism office is the Museum and Library.

The battle of Legazpi mural welcomes the guest. I love going to museums to know the history of the place we visited but sadly, we do not have a good custom in preservation. Like in Butuan, the unearthed balanghai was left scattered around. These are bits and pieces of our being a nation, a part of our proud past yet it remained just a remnant. But unlike in Butuan where there is a very passionate museum curator who explains what the materials being exhibited are, Legazpi Museum is just a storehouse of old things but with no historical explanation of its relevance in the making of the province. Except for the fact that Gen. Paua and Vito Belarmino, the historical figures I was memorizing before are Bicolanos (they might be good lovers, perhaps?hehe) led the Battle of Legazpi against the Spaniards.

October 29

I woke up early. Despite the drizzle, I jogged to Daraga Church and marvel at the majestic view of Mayon. Mt. Mayon is indeed Daragang Magayon (Beautiful maiden) that enchants every tourist looking at it. The Daraga church is made of Baroque architecture and is now undergoing renovation. It is one of a kind historical site and these old churches are the influences of our Spanish colonizers. You will be amazed by the stone details at the belfry. Daraga Church was constructed as another place for worship when the Cagsawa Church was buried after the 1814 eruption. The church is being renovated but I’m afraid it will be cemented and lose its unique design. I was told that it must obtain the permit from the National Historical Institute’s permit and the city permit but the parish failed to do so.

While jogging around the church, I met the Living Asia crew filming the area.. They were guided by Mr. Luis Santos from Legazpi Vice Mayor’s office. He asked me where I came from. I tol him I'm from South Cotabato. And the perennial question was asked. "Muslim ka?" Ugh.It's not that I do not like being called as Muslim but it just shows how Mindanao is being defined by religion and the connotations associated with the word. So I have to explain a little of geography and Mindanao history. That Mindanao is a big island rich in natural resources and it has no single religion. Then one of the crew of Living Asia joined us and asked me what I was doing in Bicol. To explore the place. I told him, And probably apply in Living Asia. haha! I want his job. :D

October 30

It’s raining hard since last night. I didn’t make the planned jogging to Lignon Hill. I just slept, and watched the TV the whole day together with my nephew. Such a couch potato!


Jogging to Lignon Hill. It’s like hiking to top of Shrine Hills in Matina with the breathtaking view of Mayon.

Then by 10AM, my sister, Nonoy my nephew and I went to Cagsawa Church. I am amazed by the children/ tour guide who know the tricks in picture taking. They are the masters of perspective photography!

L-R. Jomar (10 years old), Loida (12 y.o) and Agua (11 y.o)

November 1

I was kind of bored. It’s raining hard again and my feet itches. I want to travel. My sister cannot accompany me in long travels. She’s eight-month pregnant already. So I decided to pack my bag and took the bus. Where to? To Camarines Sur Watersports Complex (CWC)! The famous watersports complex manned by the provincial government and where Aga Muhlach is a regular 'wakeboarder' (are they called as such? hehe)

All I know is CWC is at Pili, Camsur but I forgot to tell the conductor to help me out. I fell asleep and before I knew it, I was already in Naga City! Great. So I have to take the bus again back to Pili. But I was never afraid. I was laughing knowing how fool I was. At this time, I keep on badgering the conductor to drop me off at CWC.

CWC is a huge complex within the Provincial Capitol. There are many foreigners and families enjoying the holiday, trying to balance on the plank of wood (sorry I'm not good at describing this sports). I took the beginner’s ride and was told to try the neophyte’s lessons at Wynch Park. So together with Aldrin, April and Trixie (my new acquaintances from Manila) we took the shuttle and tried the lessons. Wakeboarding looks easy but boy, it’s difficult to keep your balance on water on a board with huge slip-on slippers. Our group were laughing hard because we cannot make it up to the end. So we lowered our goal of even making it just at the middle yet we could not make it! After 4 try-outs still semplang!

Then there was this group of foreigners, ‘professional wakeboarders’, who approached Kuya Angelo, the operator that they wanted to use the nearby place to play. But they didn’t make any prior arrangements so they have to wait for the next day. But they keep on insisting that they are professionals and they want to have an exclusive use of the ‘pool’. If they can’t open the other pool, they are asking to use our pool instead. The nerve to demand! One parent was pissed off. He told them off to follow the procedure and they do not own the place. And they cannot demand to use our pool since we are customers too. The gall of the 'professionals'! tsk!

It’s already 4pm. I initially planed to spend the night in Camsur but I am having second thoughts. CWC’s cabana houses are quite expensive. So I decided to go back to Daraga, Albay and passed by Nabua, Camsur’s Church instead. I saw from one album of a friend in FB that the stained glass are quite amazing. It's good to end the day at the church. But traveling back, there were many people coming home from the cemetery and it started to rain again. I decided not to stop at Nabua. Then I realized, I could have went to Naga City and spent the night there and visit the old churches. However, the time (read: MONEY!) was too limited.

My sister was shocked I went home since I told her that I’ll be on a road trip. But hell, I still have many things to buy. My boss just texted me for an abaca bag with specification. Haha!

November 2

I went back to Cagsawa Ruins just walking from Daraga to Camalig! Beat that! I thought it's just near. I have to be physically active since I am eating a lot! I love anything that has coconut milk and Bicol’s food just suites my palate. I am devouring any food. And oh, if you decided to drop by Bicol, try Graceland’s bestseller- Special Bicol Express. It will just cost you P79 for a taste of heaven. 

I bought abaca bags, sandals, chili cellphone accessory, and t-shirts as pasalubongs for friends and bosses. Then, I went all by myself to Kapuntukan Hill and Embarcadero. Kapuntukan Hill also known as the Sleeping Lion (aerial view) is being developed like Manila's Baywalk. Embarcadero (Spanish word for embark) is a mall like the Mall of Asia (MOA). This place is good for jogging and for lovers. :D

View of Mayon from Embarcadero.

November 3

It’s my ate’s birthday! And she woke up at the wrong side of the bed. I planned to jog around Embarcadero and take a snapshot of Mt. Mayon and buy flowers and cake as a surprise for her. But the night before, my nephew’s yaya did not come back and my ate’s mad. So it’s bad start of the day and I am tasked to be the yaya for the day. What a wonderful way to start my last day here!

Later in the evening, she decided she would not be affected. We had our shared dinner together with the neighbors and relatives of her husband.


November 4

Travel back to Manila. My flight from Legazpi- Manila was delayed for about 30minutes. I met Mrs. Maria Teresa Anson, a widow who loves to travel. She just went home to Legazpi to visit her husband’s grave then she’ll be going to Bangkok to her eldest daughter to help care for her grandchildren. We had a long talk about enjoying youth, traveling and loving oneself. She told me to find a partner who shares my love for exploring new places. I will Ms. Anson. I hope I can write a good love story just like yours. :)

As we were about to board, there was this couple who went first at the line. My seatmate tapped by shoulder and whispered, ‘di ba artista yan? Si Mateo?” I looked up from my the book I’m reading, their backs on me so I can’t say for sure so I just shrugged. Falling line, that’s where I had a good look and the couple previously pointed out is Maja Salvador and Mateo Guidecilli. I love Mateo before when he's still on the race track. He seems out-of-reach. As one friend said, "mas mailap, mas nakakaexcite." haha!

My flight back to Davao is at 7pm and I arrived at NAIA 3 at 1230pm. I have a long 5-hour waiting period. Good thing, Nina Quibod came all the way from Laguna and accompanied me in killing time.

She decided not to work just to be with me. As she said,"Madaling kitain ang pera, ang totoong kabigan mahirap makita" (It's easy to earn money, but difficult to find a true friend). aawww! Such a sweet friend. 

My flight got delayed by an hour and half. I arrived in Davao at around 10:30PM. Just opened my phone and there were two invitations to party. I don’t want to favor one party and I am suffering from cough and colds. After dropping off my luggage at my place, I went to Radiance Massage for ventosa and whole body massage. And the masseuse and I were laughing every time the cups on my back were removed. So many ‘air’. That’s the price I have to pay for being such a lakwatsera. 

If I have to summarize my whole trip in photo(s), it ends to this:

My Plane tickets and the ventosa massage! =)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Flirting with Words again!

I miss writing. I miss the taste of the words forming up my tongues, the energy flowing to my fingers as I type and sees it on screen. I miss words to fill up the void. I miss writing for pleasure. It has been a long time that I wrote for pleasure. Words has become my comfort when I lost my lola and granddad. Words are my solace.

I stopped writing on my notebook. I'm afraid I am losing the energy to capture what I feel. I wanted to write more about my travels, my observations yet it seems work has become an interference instead of being the source of inspiration. I am pushing myself to write more. I will be flirting with words again.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

PROBLEMATIZING MT. APO AS ANCESTRAL DOMAIN: Datu Adot Umpan and the Indigenous Peoples Continuous Assertion of their Rights

Photo courtesy of John Louie dela Victoria

The sign reads at one of the hiking trek entrance of Mt. Apo, known as the highest peak in the Philippines. According to oral tradition, Mt. Apo was believed to be inhabited by Apo Apao Sandawa in the 1830s, the ancestor of the Obo Manuvus. He divided the mountain and the forest amongst his children. One of his children is Datu Adot Umpan.

Little is known that behind the majestic and breathtaking view and teeming resources within the mountain, the descendants of Apo Apao Sandawa are in conflict over management of their titled 3, 177.199 hectares approved ancestral domain. Before then, the issue of ownership, control and access to the bountiful resources on their ancestral domain remain an unresolved issue. Five generations later, another Datu Adot Umpan took the name and continued the fight for their management of their ancestral domain.

Datu Eduardo Umpan or Kapitan Adot is now the three-time elected barangay captain of Barangay Balabag. Now on his last term, he vowed to still lead and continue the struggle of his people. “Ang pakigbisog alang sa among yuta wala nahuman sa pagdawat namo sa titulo o CADT. Bisan naa na mi titulo, wala gihapon napanghingusog sa tribu ang iyang katungod sa pagdumala sa yutang kabilin. Apil pa nga away-away sa mga tawo sa kun kinsa ang mga nakapahimulos sa benipisyo gikan sa yuta sa tribu. (Our struggle for our land did not end when we received the title. Even we already have the title, our voice as a tribe and our way to govern our land is not recognized. Adding to this is the conflict between the people as to whom receives benefits from the land that is owned by the tribe).”

To protect, promote and respect the rights of the indigenous peoples in the country, the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) or RA 8371 was enacted into law. However, twelve years after the law’s enactment, what are the changes to the lives of Obo- Manuvus of Mt. Apo?

Kapitan Adot Umpan, as datu and also a leader of the smallest unit of governance, what changes has he observed? Being the implementor of the Local Government Code (LGC), how it is being harmonized to their law which is the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA) of 1997? “Walay konplekto kay kabalo ko sa kultura sa mga tribu, kabalo sad ko sa balaod sa gobyerno. Mas naging advantage nako kay IP ko. (There was no conflict since I know of the culture of the indigenous people and of the law of the government. It is an advantage for me since I am a member of the IP). Otherwise, he sees it as an opportunity in leading the diverse community composed of Obo-Manuvus, Islamized Indigenous Peoples and even with the Bisaya settlers).

For him, claiming their ancestral domain and having a title or Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) to prove for their ownership did not end their woes. “Wala may pagbag-o. Oo naa mi titulo, kining CADT pero wala may development. Kung naa man pagbag-o, katong mas nagkagubot mi hiunon. (There are no changes. Yes, we do have a title but there are no developments. If there are changes, that is we have been divided).
What he is referring to is the division in the community which he thinks is sowed by the entry of the Philippine National Oil Company- Energy Development Corporation (PNOC-EDC). Ironically, PNOC is a government owned and controlled corporation. But as of July 2007, the majority of shares of stocks of the government were sold to the Lopezes, as the major stockholder of PNOC. Lopezes are one of the richest family in the country that owns ABS-CBN, Meralco, Myniald among others.

A memory revisited

The northwestern part of Mount Apo constitutes the ancestral domain of the Obo- Manobos. The home for the endangered Philippine eagle and endemic flora and fauna, it was declared as a natural park by President Quezon in 1936.

When Mindanao was opened for resettlement during the 1930s, lowland Mount Apo became home to the migrants from Luzon and Visayas. Slowly, the Obo- Manobos have been displaced and faced with new concepts of land ownership. Before precolonial times, everything is considered as communal property; the land is not owned by any person. The community is the steward or caretakers of their surroundings, thus it must be protected. The colonial government of Spain and America brought new ideas of titling as proof of ownership of lands. Slowly, the hinterland of Mount Apo was issued by tittles and owned by the new settlers. Big logging concessions were also given to Busque and Manila Venneer Company. (hindi ko pa po nakita ang date when exactly it was given)
Through the Juris Regalia Doctrine, started by the Spanish colonial government, the Philippine government has a legal right to control the use of land and resources within Mount Apo. The Obo Manuvus has been stripped off of its right over their lands. The late Datu Abon Umpan has seen their powerlessness and displacement. He filed a petition to the then Bureau of Wildlife (renamed and now known as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources or DENR) for the government to allocate 1,500 hectares as settlement areas for the indigenous communities. President Magsaysay granted the request but President Garcia nullified the decision when he assumed office after the former’s death on a plane crash.

The Gulf War on early 1990s had caused oil crisis. During the Aquino administration, it sees immediate tapping of indigenous energy projects. Mount Apo is viewed as a viable geothermal source. By 1991, DENR issued an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) to PNOC- EDC to tap Mt. Apo’s enormous geothermal energy. Amidst protests of environmental activists and from the inhabitants, the project was pursued and was formally signed by President Ramos effective on January 23, 1993. This gave PNOC the right to tap the mountain for its geothermal energy generation project covering 701 hectares of Brgy. Ilomavis within the ancestral domain of the Obo- Manuvus.

Losing their land, their traditions and eventually their identity, the Obo Manuvus particularly the Bayawan and Umpan clans formed a movement called Tudduk to Kalubbaran ni Apo Ayon Umpan (Pillars of the Descendants of Ayon Umpan) which aims for cultural regeneration. However, this is impossible without involving reclamation of their ancestral domain where their lives, traditions and governance are inextricably linked.

On 1993, the DENR issued an order, DAO 2 which outlines the procedures wherein the indigenous peoples can claim their lands. DAO 2 gave them recognition of their ancestral lands and territories. This is through issuance of Certificate of Ancestral Land/Domain Claim (CADC/CALC). It is in this legal context that several claims on Mount Apo sprouted. One of this claim is filed by Datu Santiago Aba who is not a part of the Apao lineage but included Mt. Apo on his CADC claim.

On July 16, 1996, the Apao descendants submitted a petition to the provincial office of the DENR to protest the claim of Datu Santiago Aba, who included areas from another clan. This petition paved way to the formation of Ilomavis- Balabag Apo Sandawa Manobo Ancestral Domain Claim (IBASMADC). IBASMADC passed a claim over 20,000 hectares within the northwestern part of Mount Apo. The claim was reduced to 3, 753 hectares by DENR.

With strong clamor of different indigenous peoples in the country and from the international organizations such as United Nations (UN) and International Labor Organization (ILO), a bill was being formulated on the halls of Philippine Congress and Senate. Then Congressman Gregorio Andolana of North Cotabato passed a bill in House of Representatives with Senator juan Flavier passing a same bill in the Senate that outlines the provisions for protection, promotion and recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples in the country. Long deliberations and marches followed before IPRA was finally enacted into law on 1997.

IPRA has legally recognized the IP rights not only through certificates (CADC) issued thru DAO 2 by DENR which is incommensurable compared to the Torrens title. Through IPRA , IPs have been given legal recognition and for titling of their ancestral territories as well as outlining provisions on governing the resources.

This inspired the IBASMADC to follow-up their claim. They have been successful in consolidating the different clans and spearheaded the claim-making process for their ancestral domain. The processing for their CADT) as processed by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the lead agency tasked for IPRA implementation. IBASMADC has been following their application.
However on mid- 1998, the group faced one of the biggest challenges. Some of the Apao leaders in Sayaban separated and formed Idpossokadoy Ta Linubbaran ni Apao (ILAI). They contested IBASMADC’s claim and filed a separate application with DENR. This had caused a rift between the clans and caused tension in the community. According to some IBASMADC members, the management of PNOC has a hand on the rift.

CADT, PNOC and the rift within

Heaving a sigh, Datu Adot Umpan explained how it happened. “Ang mga clan sama sa Bayawan, Umpan and Andot nga anaa sa Barangay Ilomavis, Balabag,ug Kawayan, mao na sila ang mga original na IBASMADC members. Tapos katong nihawa ang uban ilabi na katong mga taga Ilomavis nga gipanguluhan ni Lucio Serrano, nagtukod sila ug ILAI. Human ato gusto nila angkunon ang parte nga anaa ang PNOC. Kato nga area dili lang sa tibuok Ilomavis.. Naa man na sa sentro sa ancestral domain. (The major clans namely Bayawan, Umpan and Andot that occupies barangays Ilomavis, Balabag, and Kawayan constitutes the original IBASMADC membership. Later on when other members particularly those coming from Ilomavis separated and was headed by Lucio Serrano, they formed ILAI. Then they wanted to secure on their application the area where PNOC is constructed, However, PNOC is not solely on the part of Ilomavis, it is on the center of the ancestral domain).”

Ang mga tao kabalo dinhi na ang PNOC man nagtabang sa iLAI aron magpasa ug separate claim. Syempre aron hawak nila sa liog ang mga lideres, dali ra mailad. Bisan pila ra ilang ihatag, okay ra. (The people here know that PNOC helped ILAI in filing a separate claim. They have control on the leaders, so they can easily manipulate. Whatever they give, they would just receive),” he added.

During their claim making process, Datu Atawan Bayawan heads IBASMADC while Datu Lucio Serrano leads ILAI. To resolve the issue, the NCIP, held a on-on-one meeting with the two leaders to “unify” their claim on the area and to clarify political boundaries. A Memorandum of Agreement was signed on December 2, 2002 that there will be a unified claim for CADT but the two groups will have a separate management on traditionally bounded territories but will share revenues derived from utilization of the domain. They decided to rename the claim into Manobo- Apao Descendants Ancestral Domain of Mount Apo (MADAMA). Datu Bayawan and Datu Serrano were appointed as representatives in the ancestral domain claim.

He protested on the said agreement. “Katong desisyon wala man to nakonsulta sa tibuok IBASMADC. (The decision was not consulted to the whole IBASMADC constituents).”

Then a meeting was held to elect Council of Leaders, which in turn elected 7 Council of Elders. The Council of Elders in turn elected 3 IP representatives to the MADADMA. The three IP representatives were Datu Atawan Bayawan (representing Kawayan), Datu Lucio Serrano (representing Ilomavis) and him (representing Balabag).

He allegedly added that, “Katong 2005, ang mga manager sa PNOC gifinance ang meeting sa Council of Leaders sa Peps, ug naa silay plano nga ituboy ug himuong Supreme Datu si Lucio Serrano. (On 2005, managers of PNOC financed a meeting of the Council of Leaders and they planned to push and anoint Lucio Serrano as Supreme Datu).”

This is dangerous, according to Datu Adot when someone is anointed as Supreme Datu, as no one can question his decisions. He even narrated that if oral traditions and lineage will be scrutinized, Datu Lucio Serrano would not be representing Ilomavis, but it should be somebody from the Andot clan. Lucio Serrano as the locals say is “tabid” or he came from the woman’s family married to the Andot clan. According to tradition, the datu who can represent the clan should come from the family of the man.

He further claims that, “kanang naa sa Council of Leaders except ra sa akoa, naa na sa payroll sa PNOC. Bisan ako giofferan dati muadto ra ko sa opisina kada akinse ug katapusan (All of those who are in the Council of Leaders except me are into PNOC payroll. I was even offered to just go to the office every 15th and end of the month).”
He himself used to work as a security guard on 1992 wherein a year after, he was promoted as security supervisor. The next year, he was already the assistant security personnel supervisor. He resigned when the community applied for CADT.

“We are fighting for that piece of land where PNOC was constructed and to avoid conflict of interest, I resigned,” he added in vernacular. He thinks that if he didn’t resign, he could now be a regular employee of the company. Or he could choose to accept the money offered to him. “Ikaw ra maganar, unsaon man ang ubang pamilya? Mura ra nimo gibaligya imong katribu. (You only will benefit, how about other families? It seems like you have sold your fellow IPs).” For him it is an act of betrayal.

He contends that the geothermal plant is within the center of their ancestral domain. Any benefits should be shared by the whole community not only that of Baranagy Ilomavis where the geothermal plant is constructed. “Sa IPRA man gud dunay probisyon para sa royalty share sa mga IP nga ang resources gamiton sa mga negosyante o sa bisan unsang kompanya. Pero katong gihatag sa amoa ang CADT katong July 2004, wala giapil ang 701 hectares sa PNOC area. Tibuok area gihatag namo except ra katong sa PNOC. Bisan pila ra ilahang ihatag, walang klarong accounting. Dili man dapat ing-ana. (There is one provision in IPRA regarding royalty share of IP community on the revenues in the usage of resources by any companies. But when the CADT was awarded to us on July 2004, the 701 hectares occupied by PNOC was not included. The whole area was given excluding the PNOC. Now, they are only giving without no clear accounting. This should not be the case).”
According to Edtami Mansayagan, one of the NCIP Commissioners during the time of Obo Manuvus claim, he did not agree to “donut-like” approval of the ancestral domain. It means, the 3,117.99 hectares were awarded to the Obo Manuvus yet the 701 hectares occupied by PNOC remains at the hand of the government (but with a separate clause on the NCIP resolution stating that the Obo Manuvus can reclaim the area and of non-expansion of the geothermal plant). This is one of the complex conflicting interpretations of the law and the implementation to the local level.
Section 2, Article III of IPRA states that the “IPs have the rights to benefit form the utilization, extraction, use and development of lands and natural resources within their ancestral lands/domains and to be compensated for any social and/or environmental costs of such activities.”

Ang nahitabo ang Ilomavis ra ug Kawayan ang nakabaton aning share gikan sa revenue sa PNOC nga ang titulo ani nakapangalan sa tibuok MADADMA. Dapat tanang tao sa komunidad makadawat. Pantay-pantay dapat. Ang kasubo ani, mga lideres ug pipila ra sa ilahang pamilya ang nakahimulos. (What happened is Ilomavis and Kawayan received shares from the revenue of PNOC but the title is named to whole MADAMA. Whole people in the community should be able to receive from the share. It should be equal. Sadly, it is only the leaders and their families that benefited).

IP governance and the lost opportunity

The struggle could not fully move on since many of them are working in the geothermal plant. A resort was also opened near the plant. The heat from the mountain was tapped into a hot and cold lake resort as a part of the joint-venture agreement supposedly between the local government of Kidapawan and MADADMA. This Lake Agcu resort was said to be given under the management of the IP leaders of MADADMA. “Unsaon man nila pag manage na igo ra man na sila hatagan ug kwarta ug painumon. (How can they manage it, they are just given money and liquors).”

While still on the claim-making process, the community should have an Ancestral Domain Sustainable and Development Protection Plan (ADSDPP), a detailed plan as to how the resources will be managed. Sadly, the claimants and now CADT holders were not able to do it. Right after the CADT was awarded, members of the community went back to their lives but the rift could no longer be remedied.

Oportunidad na unta to kung unsaon sa tribu manage ang mga resources na anaa dinhi, apan unsa nahitabo? Interes sa PNOC ra ang naprotektahan. Pipila ra ang nahatagan, apan majority nga apektado sa hungaw sa planta, wala. (It was an opportunity on how the community would manage the resources we have here, but what happened? It is the interest of the PNOC that is being protected. Only a few benefited, majority who are also affected by the smoke coming form the plant, they haven’t received anything).”

Encroachment on natural park, ancestral domain

Aside from the rift between members of the community, another concern of Datu Adot is the planned expansion of PNOC beyond its designated areas. The Lake Agcu Resort are also expanding. But these expansions, according to Datu Adot are without consultations. Another cause of concern is the unprecedented entry of banana and oil palm plantations on their lands.

By virtue of PD 59 and the National Integrated Protected Area Systems (NIPAS), Mt. Apo was declared as a natural park and protected area. Encroachment is highly prohibited. However, banana companies have been expanding, inching up to the upland area of Ilomavis. Being also a declared ancestral domain of the Obo Manuvus, consultation must be seek first from the members of the community through their right for free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) under Sec. 7, Article III (will check again later) of IPRA.

Wala gyud na dinhi may nahitabong konsultasyon. Nahatagan ra sila ug Environmental Compliance Certificate sa DENR. Unsa mga epekto aning pagpahalapad sa mga sagingan? Dunay mga kemikal ginagamit tapos protected area gud ni. (There is no consultation conducted. They were given ECC by DENR. What is the effect of expanding these plantations? It uses chemicals and to think this is a protected area).”

The companies would contend that only affected areas will be consulted and it is the people who have leased their private lands. Aside from this, they give jobs to the people. To this Datu Adot asserts, “Ang mga tawo dinhi nahimo ra nga mga hurnalista. Hurnalista sa ilang kaugalingong yuta? Sila muaaply sa mga pesticides sa saging, ilahang panglawas maapektuhan Dunay magreklamo nga sakit sa mata ug mga pangatol. Barato pa sad kayo ang bayad, wala kaabot sa minimum wage, tapos kining ganansiya aning mga kompanya daku kaayo. Dati wala pa kaabot sa minimum wage. (The people here remain as laborers. Laborers on their own lands? They wouold be the ones who would apply the pesticides on bananas, their health are at stake. There are who would complain eye irritations and skin infections. The daily wage is beyond minimum but the profits of these companies are huge).”

Then on 2006, the residents of Balabag had a General Assembly wherein 350 families signed the petition asking for evaluation and inventory of protected areas within their area, asking for DENR and NCIP to investigate the intrusion of private entities on such areas and the violation of their right to free, prior and informed consent. They filed the petition and seek for the joint investigation of DENR and NCIP. These two agencies has quasi-judicial functions but to his dismay, they receive no response from both agencies.

Sa IPRA kining musulod dapat muagi sa Council Elders apan kini tanan gisunod. Unsaon ta man sad, akong katungod isip isa ka kapitan limitado ra sad sa barangay. Muingon man sila human na sila nananghid sa siyudad. Nabuhat na nako akong parte ug budlay kayo ka yang ubang mga ahensiya nga unta responsible ani, wala sad ginabuhat. (Based on IPRA, whoever would enter should pass through the Council of Elders, but this are not followed. My rights are only limited to the barangay. They would tell us they have already secured the permission from the city. I have done what I can do, the problem is when these agencies responsible for this are not doing anything).”
He also lamented the another five hectares planted by oil palm at Sitio Lumut.

Ways forward: develop local economy

Kapitan Adot on his diversified farm

Selling of land is common especially if the person is financially challenged. It is commonly done by IPs especially during hard times. A piece of land is sold even in exchange of horse or carabao. But when this area is already under CADT, IPRA prohibits this act. But beyond this community “owning” the ancestral domain, there is also prior vested rights of the individual especially those migrant settlers within the community who already owns portions of land registered at the Bureau of Lands. A homogenous tribal village is no longer common after all. Thus, managing the ancestral domain entails balancing the rights of the individual titleholders and that of the communal ownership of other resources within the domain.

Ang dapat unta tabangan nga mahimong produktibo kining yuta aron dili na maisip sa mga tawo ilabi na ang tribu nga ibaligya. Ngano pa man niya ibaligya kung duna siya makuha nga kita gikan sa yuta? (What should be done is to make the land productive so that people especially IPs not to think of selling the lands. Why would you sell it if you can make a living out of the said land?).”

He knows it is a challenge since support from the government is minimal. The lands are no longer as productive as before. That is why he encourages his constituents to practice sustainable agriculture, by utilizing the available materials within their area. Twenty meters away from their home, he cultivated the one-hectare land he inherited from his father and turned it into a demo-farm for organic farming teeming of various fruit-bearing trees such as durian, mangosteen, marang, lanzones and passion fruit and livestock and poultry for breeding. He also has a fishpond full of tilapia.

All varieties of durian are available. “Nagtanom ko tanang nga variety, ang uban girequest sa DA (Department of Agriculture) aron kun gusto sa mga tawo nga mangayo ug semilya, pili ra sila kay naa man tanan. (I planted different varieties; others were requested from DA so that when the people would want to get seed they just have to choose since everything is available.
He owed to durian the piece of residential lot he purchased and the construction of a semi-concrete house at the center of Kidapawan City where his two sons and wife stays on weekdays. His sons are both college students while his wife works at the capitol. “Sa unang harvest, naka P140,00 ko, tapos sa ikaduha, mga P150,00. Apan tiguwang naman ang mga puno, dili na ing-ana kadaghan ang bunga.(During the first harvest, I was able to earn P140,00 then on the second harvest around P150,000. However, the trees are quite old now, the produced fruits are no longer the same as before).”

He thinks what is more important is to develop the community livelihood and food sufficiency. While asserting for right to land in legal terms, the community must strengthen their claim for land by making it more productive.

Since it’s his last term now, he plans to take a rest and continue his passion for farming. He plans to focus more on his farm and his vermiculture production Due to illness that struck his lanzones trees, he plans to replace the plants with passion fruits. For him, his farm is his refuge and a stress reliever. Every morning he walks to his farm to feed his turkey, chicken,pigs, cows and tilapia. “Gikan ta sa lupa, mubalik gyud ta gihapon sa lupa. Mang-empleyo ta apan dili man hanggtud sa hanggtud makaya nato mang-empleyo kay naa man retirement age. Muretire ta ug mubalik gyud ta panguma. Tan-awa mga dagkung negosyante, mamalit sila yuta kay nakita nila dagku gyud ang kwarta sa yuta. Mao sad gani interesado sila sa yuta sa tribu kay lapad gud na. (We came from the land, we all would return to it. We seek employment while we can but we would not stay that way, and there’s a retirement age. We will retire and we would go back to farming. Look at the businessmen, they buy lands since they know there is money in land. That's why they are even very interested to ancestral domains since it is huge).”

As he was slicing the durian, he called his youngest daughter. “Gusto ra nako makita nga akoang mga anak ug ang tribu makabenispiyo sa among yuta. Himuon kining produktibo nga walay kadautan sa yuta. (I just want my children and the future generation of the tribe to be able to benefit from our lands. Make the lands productive without destroying it).”

This wish will only be attained through collective action from the community itself. But with the still unresolved rift between leaders caused by the entry of economic opportunities, it would take different strategies for resolution. The current conflicting laws and the non-implementation of the laws by responsible agencies also make the problem more complex. Strengthening and equalizing benefits to different barangays within the ancestral domain and PNOC’s observance of corporate social responsibility to the community must be observed.

NB. To know more about historical struggle of the Obo-Manuvus in Mt. Apo and other indigenous peoples' communities in Mindanao, I encourage you to read "Conflicting Laws, Overlapping Claims: The Politics of Indigenous Peoples’ Land Rights in Mindanao" by Ms. Aida Vidal.

Monday, May 31, 2010


(late post-election reflections)

The result of the 2010 election is mind-baffling, stressful sometimes and posed some questions. One of the question that stayed on my mind is, despite Erap's cases and the all-out war policy in Mindanao, how he still won the heart of millions here?

Gus Miclat of Initiatives for International Dialogue wrote in Mindanews that it should be a moment also of reflection for the peace building initiatives and constituency -building. He Earpa's message is clear and heard here. We, in the civil society on the other hand, has to rethink our strategies and work harder to get oyur message across. That peace can be attained through sincere negotiations and not by an all-out war policy. Ironically, Erap even won in ARMM and Cotabato provinces where he declared the all-out war policy.

I made a pre-election survey amongst teachers, farmers and taxi drivers. And surprisingly, all of the taxi drivers I asked, about 95% out of 20 farmers and teachers I talked to, chose Erap. Some would say that those who voted for the ex-convict president are idiots. Then we have 10 millions idiots then? What's the charisma of this man? why they voted for Erap?

One of my closest elementary teacher told me that it is only Erap who increased their uniform allowance and gave them 1 sack of rice each. Same is true with the soldiers. For the cash-strapped government employees, a sack of rice monthly is a big help as big chunk of the budget goes to the food. For the farmers, during the first three months of his term, he subsidized fully their irrigation fees.

Taxi drivers has a good say for him too. "Ma'am sa iyaha lang gyud nag termino nga naundang pagpataas sa gasolina (Ma'am it's only during his time that pric ehike of gasoline stopped)."

So are these people idiots for voting him? Who would have thought that he Erap will comes second when Manny Villar has even the money and machinery?

It's the people, the masa who strongly felt that a President were able to connect with their plight. If it's the masa's idiocy, then maybe it's also the so-called intellectuals responsibility to connect with the masa and widen the discourse.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Apo divirginized me

I remembered vividly the day I saw Danny Javier, Boboy Garovillo and Jim Paredes. It was our 2nd year high school's field trip to Eden Nature Park (that was on 2001!). They were playing golf and when one of our clasmsate saw them,, he shouted! "Nandito ang Apo!" and everyone scampered to get a look of the famous Pinoy male trio and have our class picture taken with them.

Now I don't know who's point and shoot camera it was or if the picture was exposed. But the memory of that day lingered. And when APO decided to bade goodbye and will have their provincial tours, I wanted to see them for the first and last time!

May 15, 2010. For P500, I'd say it's the best birthday gift ever! My father and I had a bonding during the morning. He wanted to watch the concert too but he has prior commitments. To appease the sulking daughter? Pay for her tickets! Haha!

We have to go to CAP Auditorium an hour early. Thank God the Bugtays adopted me for the night and reserved a seat for the primadonna. It's jampacked.Sadly, digital cameras were not allowed. Peryodiko is their warm-up band but they are not yet that connected to the audience. The people were shouting for APO. When they went to the stage, the people went ballistic. The first timers, they call them Apo Virgins. When they asked how many in the crowd will watch them live for the first time, many raised their hands. "Oh, kung hindi pa pala kami magpapaalam, hindi rin kayo manonood?" Laughter. Them Jim said, "Punong-puno ang venue. Second night na namin to at puno pa rin. There are so many people who want to see us go!" Funny guys.

The whole musical arrangement is world class. They have a medley of their songs to accomodate everyone's request. Their Dobido rendition especially the Beyonce performance is just hilarious. Even until know, we really know what's the emnaing fo Dobidoo. The Pinoy folk song medley made them relevant and you would laugh at their ingenuity. The "Di Na Natuto"rock, classical and soul rendition is just heartwarming, showcasing each talent. You can feel the honesty and friendship tested by time. They have a place to every Pinoy's heart. Everyone was singing with their songs.

I personally love Panalangin.

If I would write a blurb for their concert, I'd write in superlatives: "A classic act, worth every penny. You'll be craving for more. When they bade goodbye to Davao crowd, the people stood up in awe and asked for more. They just can't get enough of this trio who included OPM (Original Pinoy Music) to our consciousness."

to APO Hiking Society, Thank you for the music.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

one,23 Hooray!!

Time just flies too fast. It's seems only yesterday when I wrote my 22nd ramblings and here I am, adding one on the last digit of my age. Nygaks!

So how's life so far?

The first quarter of the year was a tupsy-turvy of sorts. There was a moment of loss--saying goodbye and mourning, the time of the long overdue confrontation, reconciliation, healing and moving on.

You'll never know how strong the attachment is until the moment comes to say goodbye. I realized I have no talent for saying goodbye to somebody I feel strong attachment to. It's painful yet you know you have to end that attachment. It's just inevitable and you need it in order to move on and enable you to grow. You need to see and feel the pain of losing someone or something to appreciate what's coming. It is only by losing that we will learn to appreciate more what we have.
I remember Murakami saying “every action produces loss.” It's the entropy of the moral system.

You just need to chose your battle. What's important is when you're going through that very intense moment, you are surrounded by good friends, good food, good books. It is the people that hold dear to us that matter. And I am so blessed to have these people to celebrate life with. They have seen me through thick and thin (literally and figuratively. hehe!)

And I am thankful to celebrate my natal day not just for a day but for a week with you guys! (Ah murag artista ra! Haha!)

It's Mother's day and the day before the 1st ever Automated Election Day. I guess, everyone was excited as most of us are first time voters. High school and college friends gather trying to tackle some possibilities, hopeful despite the negativities.It's the reunion of the 'three little pigs', recollection of high school craziness and bonding with family members. I thank Ate Flo for her prayers. "We pray that you give May Che, good health and wonderful lovelife." pati lablayp sinali,Waynot! hehe!

It's a very gloomy day. I hope not a sign of the future of this country. Despite the heat and later on, drizzle, the people stayed on their line just to fill-out their ballots.

Good thing, I met my confidante, my kuya and the future officiating priest of my future wedding! Harhar!
Meet Kuya Father Gillarme Joy Pelino, the vicar priest of Tampakan, my kinakapatid.

The long line is a good time to keep abreast with our lives. I always tell him, if I can only clone him, I will immediately do so. We talked about the search for the Significant Other, compatibility, environmental concerns, corruption, the local government's decision not to decide on the controversial environmental code, continuing plunder of our natural resources, Paulo Freire's concientizaçao, and back to the matters of the heart. He told me the importance of common preferences as source of attraction. “Of course it won't hurt if that Significant Other is yummy too!,” I added. He laughed. If you have this guy standing next to you, falling in line even until midnight is okay!

And at noon, Heidi, my goat gave birth to two healthy kids! I already gave up my virtual Farmtown to have the real version (well, sort of). Wapeeee!

May 11
back to Davao. Still had the hang-over. So the best thing to do? Reformat/ relay-out my blog.

From Brown to white.

May 12 Chippen's Date
My former boss turned foster mother and I had a date. It's her post- masteral graduation/ post- b-day and my pre-bday celebration. I just love eating and I love eating with the best people. Habhab to the max! And while eating, Mader Pacz, Ate Alex and Lola Tigs, are already planning where the next eat-all-you-can destination.

May 13
My day and the day of meetings. Meeting with the GODC people at 10AM and meeting with the AR group at 2pm. It's a day of smiles, good food (salamat to my AFRIM family for the pancit [traditional handa for long life!], yummy fresh durian, durian yam and pan). Thanks to Ate Myrna for my colorful nails! :D Salamat for my ates (ate Nokie, Nikki and Lizzy) for the unplanned Here Comes the Bride movie date. Tawa to the max!

And to cap the night, I received a call from my father. :)

May 14
Ate Gie gives me Mushu, my blue-eyed miming! Kumpleto na bday ko! Sunod na picture niya pag nakaligo na siya.^-^

May 15
Bonding time with my father and Mushu. APO concert afterwards. Ticket sponsored by Papa. Wapeeei!!

It's just a wonderful week for me. God is good always. For my families and friends, I can't THANK YOU enough.

smooooooooochies! I loooooooove you all!

23 random things about me

1.I believe in the power of reading. My favorite book is the Book of Psalms.

2.Buying second hand books is a therapy. I tend to buy lots of books even beyond budget especially when I'm stressed. After a heartbreak, I went to Booksale shop three days straight and went home with 3 bags every time, even though I know I still have so many books at my room. Now, enough with buying. My new goal? At least two books for pleasure reading every month.

3.I am addicted to spas. Hot stone massage is one of my splurges.

4.What I love most about my work? It's traveling and meeting and talking to people from all walks of life- legislators, farmers, tribal leaders, women leaders, children. They are the best personality development teachers. :)

5.I never thought I can write. I know my writings are far from what my idols' but I am trying to learn this art. I haven't perfected yet the right way of sewing words to have a wonderful coherent composition.

6.I have no sense of direction. I have no idea why we need to determine northeast, southeast, etc. I have been lost several times here in Davao. Last year, I took the South bound train instead of taking the other side when my friends and I will be meeting in Trinoma. So much for taking the big risk of commuting alone during the rush hour! Ask my friends and I know they will laugh at my useless spatial skills.

7.But despite my low spatial and geographical skills, I love traveling. One of my dreams is to travel Mindanao. I want to visit Zamboanga and Bongao, Tawi-tawi before I turn 30. Palawan and Bohol are my next summer destinations.

8.During college, as the Mindanao representative of KASAMA sa UP, a system-wide alliance of student councils of UP System, I traveled to Baguio with only P5,000 in hand. I, Kong-kong and Ate Lisa Lisame (fellow student council members) traveled from Davao to Cagayan de Oro (by bus), then to Cebu by barge. We were supposed to have a free ride with the military C130 but due to some technical glitches , we have no other choice but to get tickets and the cheapest that time is around P3,800 to Manila! Good thing, my sister is in Manila.

9.When I stayed during Christmas (right after our Baguio trip) with my sister in Cainta, Rizal I know right there and then, that I'll never work and live in Manila. I hate the fast-paced life, the pollution, and I have this distrust for people in the big metro.

10.I love sticking notes. I keep different colors of post-it notes and notepads!

11.I like using paper clips as hair clip substitute.

12.I like babies but I can't still see myself having one. It seems 'baby talk' has become a trend and during get togethers with friends, the latest update will be who's preggy.

13.While some people think 13 is unlucky, I think otherwise. I just love my number!

14.Coloring my nails in different colors just sets my mood. (I just learned to be this kikay after graduating in college! Such as a late bloomer!)

15. Last February, I had the longest conversation/ confrontation of my life!

16.Artists amaze me. I like befriending tattoo artists, painters, performers. I just think they have the most bizarre and unnerving ideas.

17.I am seriously considering to have a permanent tattoo.

18.Flowing dresses has become my favorite get-up. It makes me feel so feminine.

19.Once, I went to a spa for a Thai massage with a guy companion. The attendant told me, “Ma'am bawal baya magpamasahe ang buntis (ma'am, pregnant women are prohibited). Oh yeah, right!

20.During elementary days, I was the first to file a case to my grade 6 adviser because of corruption. On high school, a 'cheater's list' found it's way to our third year adviser and I was one of the suspects. Until now, I don't have any idea who did it. Looking back, I just love those experiences!

21.When my sister and I are together, the questions : “Are you siblings? You're younger than her? (complete with disbelieving eyes) are expected. My sister will always laugh.

22.I abhor people who borrows money and disappears afterwards. If you cannot pay, just tell. It's more shameful and disrespectful to the person who lend you money when you needed it the most.

23. My greatest fear is to be confined in the hospital. I think it will just make me weaker.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mukha ng Bayan ni Juan sa Panahon ng Halalan

Last April 20-22, we attended SEA- CEM and Mindanews' Citizen Journalism workshop.Part of the activity is the big part video plays in advocacy.

Maran Perianan, a journalist and also gives training on basic video shots to indigenous peoples in Malaysia using Flip video is one of the resource persons. He shared their experiences and the role images played in raising issues in the community such as illegal logging and human rights violations. Their group distributed Flip videos to the communities and the people in the community started taking shots and raised issues on health care and environmental destruction. This is community empowerment, of the people holding power to present the truth through their eyes.

The power of blogging and online marketing was also introduced by Sean Ang. Twitter, Facebook and our blogs are powerful tools to promote our advocacies to a wider audience.

My most favorite part is when we had our field work. Our topic is Election in particular about campaign materials.

Based on Omnibus Election Code,

Cloth, paper or cardboard posters, whether framed or posted, with an area exceeding two feet by three feet, except that, at the site and on the occasion of a public meeting or rally, or in announcing the holding of said meeting or rally, streamers not exceeding three feet by eight feet in size, shall be allowed
Section 18 (c) (You can find the full copy of Omnibus Election Code here)

So what does the common tao thinks about these materials?

One fruit vendor along Roxas Boulevard said: "Bisag unsa pa na kadaghan ilang posters, kami naa na jud mi napili-ang kandidato. Sayang-sayang ra na sila og kwarta ug naghugaw-hugaw ra. (No matter how many posters they put up, we have already chosen our candidates. They are just wasting their money and they are polluting [the area])."

Another insight from a first-time voter:"How can you expect them to implement the law when they could not even follow a simple rule?"
Sadly, our laws are just suggestions!

A photographer from San Pedro expressed his view: "Maayo man unta na kay mahibaw-an sa tao nga nidagan sila apan naa man kung unsa gyud ang kadak-on sa tarp, asa ra na mamahimong ipost. Unya wa man na nasunod.COMELEC wala may mabuhat. (It's okay since the people would know that they are running however, there is specifics on the tarp [size] and the where it should be posted. But it's not followed. COMELEC hasn't done anything)."

"Grabe na kahugaw ang kalsada. Naa man unta na regulasyon." Kuya Jun, a pedicab driver from Boulevard said. As for the street sweepers of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), they can only clean the posters that fell but they have no authority to pull down campaign materials even it's nailed on trees. All they can do is give a sigh and continue sweeping early in the morning.

So take a look. Every faces. Everyone smiling. Photoshopped. Seeking for your attention. Hoping you will remember them when you cast your votes this May 10.

Reflection. Huge Banderitas.


Team Nograles' Marketing Line

Team Duterte's Response

Free Ride. Nauna ka. Didikitan din kita!


Talking to Manong Benny.
Thanks to my partner Tauna Maulana. :)

Matanong ko lang, meron din kaya silang nilaang pondo for clean-up drive after elections?

P.S. Be very afraid of candidates who spend too much!

Due to previous commitment I wa snot able to finish the workshop and my video. *sad* but I learned the basics. Will use Adobe Premiere on my other projects. ('0')


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