Tagum City, Davao del Norte – Blessed as the leader of all Datu by the tribal council of Tagum city, Hon. Pantaleon Alvarez is the new “Dagkuan Datu, Dagkuan Punuan”. The blessing ceremony happened last Tuesday, October 9, 2017 as part of the Kaimunan Festival, which is an annual thanksgiving celebration of all indigenous cultural community in the city.
Hon. Alvarez is the fourth most powerful government official in the country who is also a champion of IP groups in the Philippines especially in Mindanao. The “pag-umbas” (blessing) is a sacred act for the indigenous community given in honor to chosen individuals for their contribution in putting our indigenous brothers and sisters on the priority list of the country.
“Nasayod ko nga kini nga posisyon pagka Datu, dili lang ni siya tawagon ka ug Datu. Naa ni’y mga kaakibat na responsibilidad ug obligasyon para sa tribu, para sa mga IPs.” (I’m aware that this position as Datu is not merely a title. This carries responsibility and obligation to our indigenous people.) His batuk(message) clearly says that his mission is to unite the indigenous community and to build a city governed with the guidance of the traditions of Lumads.
Ms. Xylee Labastida Palomata, the head of the City Tribal and Muslim Affairs Office agrees that our Lumad brothers and sisters should feel empowered and involved in building our nation. She indicates that such is the prime purpose of Kaimunan Festival. For several years, the festival promotes the rights and advances the preservation of the Lumad culture. Having awarded as Grand Winner in the Best Festival Category during the 2017 Pearl Awards, Ms. Palomata is positive that other LGUs would adapt the city’s advocacy.
This year’s theme, “Pagswambud ng Panggugunaun, Pagdabung ng Tagum” (Tagum’s Thriving Culture towards Progress and Success) features the economic endeavours of the community. The National Commission on Indigenous People was also in attendance to receive the IP Glossary of Terms forMansaka, Mandaya, and Kagan book published thru the partnership of LGU Tagum with the Tagum City Federation of Barangay Tribal Council. Music and dances were also showcased during the event. Ziyarah Manalo/CIO Tagum