Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wandering at Hagpa

Last month, I have a memorable (longest) road trip of my life. We were invited to give an input about agrofuels at Brgy. Hagpa, Impasug-ong Bukidnon. Since the concerned program is not available (Ate Anna's preggy and advised against long travels), I have to give my best shot.

I'm so thankful Louie, a college friend and now a staff of Task Force Mapalad was assigned in Bukidnon. He accompanied me and became the porter for the day. It was a relief not to bring those heavy reading materials to be distributed to the community.

So how far is the area? To give you an idea, here is my iterinary.

From Davao to Malaybalay City, it's a 4-hour bus ride. Then from Malaybalay City, I have to take the bus to Impasug-ong for about 40 minutes. Then, we have another hour and a half Skylab (motorcycle) ride to Brgy. Lamingan were we stayed overnight. The next day, we have to hike for around 40minutes to the Barangay Hall of Hagpa.

To better understand the situation and to contextualize it, I had initial interviews with the elders and the staff of Father Vincent Cullen Tulugan Learning and Development Centre (FVCTLDC), the organization that aided them in their CADT claim. Here's what I've gathered:

Higa-onons Ancestral Domain

The approved Higa-onon ancestral domain has a total area of 14,000 hectares. It comprise the municipalities of Impasug-ong and Malitbog at Bukidnon. Inhabitants are composed of communities from the sitios of Mintapod, Agtulawon, Kiudto, Kaanibongan, Butongon, Ulawon and some sitios in Barangay Hagpa.

The Agtulawon-Mintapod Higaonon Cumadon (AGHIMICU) is the peoples organization representing the claim of the Higa-onons in Impasug-ong. It is headed by 13 datus. On May 1995, they first applied for Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim (CADC) at Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The CADC was awarded to them on February 1998.

However, the identified boundaries in the CADC was far from the actual extent of their domain. When RA 8371 or IPRA was enacted, AGHIMICU applied for conversion of CADC to Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) on 2000 and was approved and awarded last May 15, 2008 with CADT Number R10-IMP-1206-054.

About 95% of the inhabitants in Brgy. Hagpa are Higaonons. They were able to acquire CADT with the aid of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP), FVCTLDC and Philippine Association for Intercultural Development, Inc (PAFID). The Dumagats (inmigrants) are the ones who have not yet acquired any private titles. Thsi had caused some concern to teh settlers that having the CADT will hinder them from acquiring private ttiles for their farmlands. Last Tuesday, April 13, the DUMACO (Dumagats' organization) and AGHIMICU signed a Memorandum of Agreement entitling the Dumagats to apply for private titles on their respective privately-owned residential and farm lots.

ABERDI's oil palm ventures

I was told that the ABERDI (A Brown Energy and Resources Development Inc.) is planning to expand in their area. The municipality of Impasug-ong in the province of Bukidnon is known as the “oil palm capital”. The company currently has a 10 tonner modular Palm Oil Mill at the poblacion. The company also owns 70 hectares oil palm plantation (40 hectares in Maluko, Bukidnon; 27 hectares in Dalirig and 3 hectares in Lunocan, Manolo Fortich). They also have a joint-venture agreement with the local People’s Organization KASAMA- KA. The said PO has acquired a Community- based Forest Management Agreement (CBFMA) with DENR and instead planting the usual falcatta or gemelina trees, they planted their area with oil palm.

ABERDI ventures also into into real estates, agricultural crops and processing. They have their subsidiaries that are responsible for oil palm plantations undertakings -Nakeen Corp. and Andesite Corp and Xavier Estates, wellknown for real estates in Cagayan de Oro City.

ABERDI is now planning to expand in the neighboring barangays of its current plantation in Brgy. Kalabugao, Impasug-ong. Brgy. Hagpa is the next and last frontier of the Pantaron range where the company is vying for expansion. At present, one of the Datu of the AGMIHICU, Datu Datu Mandedlayen Nanolan (Datu Aguilo) approves of the proposed expansion on his 200 hectares area at Sitio Kiudto, Brgy.Hagpa.

The said Datu based on interviews is no longer staying at Brgy. Hagpa and is not engaged in agriculture. The respondents shared that the said Datu is seeking for a seat in the Municipal Council and he needs money for his campaign. The other members of the Council of Elders and the Dumagats (inmigrants) are against the expansion since the proposed expansion site is their protected forest and other parts are agricultural lands.Staff of FVCTLDC shared that the area is also viable for cassava and other agricultural crops.

Right now, the other member of the AGMIHICU is negotiating and to arrive in a concensus regarding this matter. I've heard a local youth leader was also tapped by ABERDI to negotiate per households for the leasing their land. And the amount for teh rent of their land? P5,000 for 25 years! Just a simple equation. P5,000 divided by 25 years divided by 12 months per year. They will only earn P16.67 per month for the next 25 years?!

Meanwhile HAMOG, the youth cultural group of the community wishes their elders to think of their future. They the future Joey Ayala on the rise. Listen to their voices:

They are singing a song on caring of their remaining forests in Binukid (local dialect).

Partaking the chicken offering during the ritual.



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