Exclusive rights for big sponsors defeat spirit of Kaamulan’

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/05 March) – The provincial government should have disallowed some companies from enjoying exclusive rights during the Kaamulan even if they were major sponsors of the annual festival showcasing Bukidnon’s indigenous cultures, a Lumad leader said on Monday.

Saying it does not fit into the openness espoused by the Lumads as the spirit behind the Kaamulan, Datu Mayda Magdaleno Pandian said the practice has to stop.

Pandian, indigenous peoples’ representative to the provincial board told MindaNews that if the organizers wanted to get more sponsors and more resources for the festival then it should reconsider the “exclusivity” policy.

“This is supposed to be a gathering that promotes openness, why are we allowing others to be isolated?” he said.

“We are not against them making money. We are against unfair practices,” he added.

Pandian said he will support moves to do away with exclusive rights once the issue reaches the provincial board.

Joe-An Bayona-Henderin, provincial tourism officer, admitted last Friday that when she assumed last year the practice of giving exclusive rights to certain corporate sponsors had been there for years.

She said that of the P7-million budget for the festival this year, P5 million came from the provincial government and P2 million from the sponsors.

The major sponsors this year, she added, were San Miguel Beer (P400,000), Smart-Talk’N’Text (P300,000), Coke (P200,000), and Nature’s Spring Water (P50,000).

Restaurants and refreshments shops that put up branches at the Kaamulan grounds and booths selling drinks and mobile phone loads were required to sell only products of the major sponsors.

This requirement is among the criteria in choosing the “best booth,” a strategy to ensure compliance with the exclusivity clause in the contract signed with the provincial government.

Juanito Aroa, chair of the Kaamulan field operations committee, said in an interview Saturday he had been raising the issue against exclusivity in the past celebrations of the Kaamulan.

He said cultural openness should mean giving other players a chance to take part [in the Kaamulan].

Aroa and Pandian noted that the practice of exclusivity favors only those entities that can afford to offer big donations.

Loreta sol Dinlayan, in-charge of the Bukidnon State University Ethno-cultural Museum, on Saturday said the practice of exclusivity has encouraged monopoly instead of openness in a gathering for unity, which is what “amul-amul”, the root word of “Kaamulan”, means.

An employee from Smart/Talk’N’Text went to the Provincial Tourism Office a day before the street dancing competition to ask that they be accompanied in removing a tarpaulin placed by their competitor at an establishment along Fortich Street. The employee said they have exclusive rights [to place ads] along a portion of the street and at the Kaamulan grounds until March 10.

Henderin said removing exclusivity rights could be an option next year.

“I agree there should be free market. This could be reviewed. It’s possible we could even raise more funds,” she added.

For his part, provincial board member Manuel Dinlayan, who is from the Bukidnon tribe, told MindaNews his concern is not how funds [for the Kaamulan] are raised.

“What matters is whether a portion of the proceeds from funds raised for the Kaamulan goes to the livelihood and education of the members of the seven hill tribes,” he said.

Henderin said all receipts from the Kaamulan were spent on the festival and nothing went to the livelihood and education of the IPs. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)