MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/30 October) – The Bukidnon Higaonon Tribal Association (Buhita) is planning to hold an investment forum that aims to draw development programs and projects into their ancestral domain, tribal leaders said.
Buhita leaders bared the plan in a program today where they explained the contents of their Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan (ADSDPP) for 2012-2016 to representatives from the city and provincial governments and nongovernment organizations.
Land tenure mechanisms such as mapping of territorial boundaries among clans, sustainable agriculture and eco-tourism were among those presented for the seven areas cited in the plan.
The Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title application for Buhita’s 36,547.21 hectare ancestral domain was approved in 2009, but the title itself is yet to be awarded pending some requirements before the Land Regulatory Administration (LRA), Datu Aligpulos Timbangan, Buhita president, said in the program held at the Freedom Park in Malaybalay City this morning.
Buhita’s ancestral domain covers 12 barangays in Malaybalay and two others in Cabanglasan town.
Vice Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr., one of those invited to give a response, vowed to provide the infrastructure needs of the barangays covered by Buhita.
Zubiri said that since it would need funding for its ADSDPP, Buhita should consider oil palm plantations in its ancestral domain. He cited that Malaysian firms are willing to provide capital to local partners.
Many of the tribal leaders welcomed the idea but Datu Timbangan, president of Buhita, said it will have to be discussed first among the 35-member council of elders.
The group’s ADSDPP did not include oil palm plantations as an option. But it mentioned the planting of rubber on slopes.
Carl Binayao, community affairs officer of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples-Bukidnon, reminded the tribe that the plan will still have to be assessed based on NCIP guidelines.
Aside from agricultural activities, Buhita plans to go into community-based eco-cultural tourism with the Kinilatan Falls in Freedom, Cabanglasan town and the Kibalabag Dam as among the possible sites for trekking, picnics and resorts.
“Included in the design for the development of these sites is the promotion of the culture of the Higaonon and the respect for the environment,” according to the summary of the plan.
Thirty-four percent of Buhita’s ancestral domain or 12,513 hectares is still primary forest while 7,677 hectares are considered secondary forest.
Higaonon, one of Bukidnon’s seven tribes, occupies the northern part of Bukidnon. Its members mainly inhabit the communities along the Pulangi and Tagoloan river basins.
Impasugong, a town north of Malaybalay, is said to be 75-percent Higaonon. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)