Friday, June 29, 2012

What’s in Store for Sablayan Mangyans?

Borrowing from Stephen R. Covey, A. Roger Merrill and Rebecca R. Merrill in their book I haven’t read entitled “First Things First”, this became the road map I am already crossing or trying to cross into: “Live, Love, Learn and Leave a Legacy”. Aren’t those things we ought to do in our entire life?

Sablayan Mayor Eduardo B. Gadiano last year created the Indigenous People’s Affairs Office (IPAO) under his office. The IPAO has the following Duties and Functions in general: serve as the Assistance Centre of the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) to receive and acknowledge complaint or requests; make referrals to concerned agencies and departments within the LGU specifically the Mayor’s Office in relation to IP needs; coordinate with concerned offices of the LGU on the giving of financial and food assistance to transient IPs or walk-in clients on official visit to the IPAO. The office’s special functions include: conduct baseline survey/census and researches in coordination with concerned agencies both public and private; facilitate information and education campaigns on the promotion and awareness building on the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA); provide direct assistance and basic social services and conduct and spearhead consultations, trainings, seminars, consultations, focused group discussions in IP communities and other stakeholders. In January, he designated me to that IPAO post.

My office’s banner programs consist of Lingap-Katutubo Educational Assistance, Socio-Economic and Sustainable Agriculture and Livelihood including Advocacy Campaign for Peace and Development. I was involved in the community processes headed by the National Commission for the Indigenous Peoples or NCIP for the mandatory IP representation in the local legislative board. Ultimately, the Philippine history’s first ever Mangyan municipal legislator finally swore in into office last February 4, 2012 as mandated in Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Memorandum Circular No. 2011-119 dated October 20, 2011. Hon. Ruben Pasajol Dangupon, 30, an Alangan Mangyan, now represents the indigenous peoples and communities (He sits by my side in the picture above). It’s he who promised his tribe to be their voice in the government.

Aside from sustaining what we have started this 2012, next year, the construction of “Balay Lakoy” (Big House), a temporary shelter for itinerant Taobuids and Alangan of Sablayan is to be established in the town proper. It’s a place intended also to be venues for their meetings and other activities. In 2013, LGU-Sablayan also intends to create two (2) IP communities into Mangyan barangays. One barangay is to be created for the Taobuid and another for the Alangan. The initial process for its creation is hopefully started next year. Having their own barangay means having their own revenue and more responsibility in terms of governance thus the move brings empowerment. This is a tedious job for we have to pass all the legal requirements towards this goal. Wish me and the Mangyan leaders and government officials who gave me this opportunity to be part of this historic cause.

In the dedication marker of the Mangyan figure tableau statue at the Plaza we can find the LCE’s message which reads in part:

"A tribute to the Taobuid and Alangan Mangyan ethnic groups, the first inhabitants of Sablayan… The people of Sablayan highly recognize the contributions of the Taobuid and Alangan Mangyans to the sustained development of Sablayan particularly in the preservation of their rich culture and tradition, tribal justice system, sustainable agriculture, care the environment and their exemplary peaceful ways of resolving conflicts and problems, and other positive characteristics that we lowlander should reflect on and follow...”

The figure tableau became a symbol of Sablayan’s meaningful journey with the Mangyans, the poorest of the poor among us. Ours is a sustained journey towards the IPs place under the sun.

A journey I am hopeful that I will simply leave a footprint, if not a legacy…

(Photo: File)

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