Damulog's Apu Mamalu site to be declared "national cultural treasure"

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/13 November) —  The National Museum of the Philippines is set to declare the Apu Mamalu burial ground in Misakil, Damulog, Bukidnon  a national cultural treasure, Sen. Juan Miguel  Zubiri said at the opening program of the three-day general assembly of the Mindanao Association of Museums at the Bukidnon State University.

Zubiri was asked to give an inspirational message in the event where the keynote speaker was Angel Bautista, chief of the NMP’s cultural properties division.

Bautista later confirmed the scheduled declaration to BSU’s Dr. Remedios Barreto, the lead organizer.

Barreto told MindaNews Friday the announcement drew reactions from the academic and museum community, some of whom lobbied against the declaration.

She said an anthropologist noted that the declaration could be based only on legend while others said there could be petitions contesting the story behind it.

But Barreto quoted Bautista as saying there has been no petition lodged at their office so far.

“If there is anything coming up, it will go through the process and this declaration will be subjected to that, too,” she added, quoting Bautista.

The National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009  mandates the National Museum to implement the provisions of Republic Act No. 4846, known as “The Cultural Properties and Preservation Act” as amended.

A “National Cultural Treasure,” according to the law “is a unique object found locally, possessing outstanding historical, cultural, artistic and/or scientific value which is significant and important to the country and nation.”

The Apu Mamalu burial ground in Sitio Misakil, Barangay Tangkulan, Damulog, Bukidnon is considered by the Manobo ethno-linguistic group as one of the evidences of their cultural foundation.

It is located near the Pulangi River, which is the biggest tributary to the Rio Grande de Mindanao.

Datu Wimar Ampuan, chair of the Cultural Solidarity of Indigenous Peoples in Bukidnon, told MindaNews earlier that the burial site will be submerged if the proposed Pulangi V hydroelectric power complex in southern Bukidnon is built.

According to the draft resolution, the site “has outstanding social and historical significance to the indigenous peoples of Mindanao particularly the Manobo ethno-linguistic group”.

The Manobo ethno-linguistic group considers this burial ground sacred, the root of their existence and the foundation of their culture.

“The indigenous peoples particularly the Manobo and partner organizations are committed and dedicated to their continuous advocacy to protect and preserve the environment and uphold the rights and dignity of the indigenous peoples,” the draft resolution added.

The signatories of the resolution are Dr. Antonio Montalvan, director Museum of Three Cultures of the Capitol University in Cagayan de Oro City, Artemio Barbosa, curator, anthropology division of the National Museum, and Datu Wilmar Ampuan. The resolution will be signed in the area, a source from the NMP said. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)