Davao City’s smoking ban gives way to tradition

"We are bothered by the problem of how we could let the shaman, who smokes (home-made, rolled) native tobacco by tradition; perform their tribe's cultural traditions inside the house," City Tourism Officer Gerardinn Marie Angeles-Duran told MindaNews.

If only to depict the real culture of some of Mindanao’s tribes, the city government has decided to allow shamans to practice what they actually do in their communities.

The expo, dubbed as Kalimudan: Mindanao Indigenous Peoples' Gathering, is a cultural event that features indigenous architecture, cultural presentations, exhibits and other facets of the life of some Mindanao tribes.

IP traditional arts and performances from regions in Mindanao as well as fora and workshops for women, educators, architectural landmarks, legislators and government agencies will be featured from Nov. 19 to 23.

At least 13 structures depicting the various architectural values of some of Mindanao's tribes would be put up around a "Shaman house" in Davao City's Magsaysay Park, according to Nestor Horfilla, pre-expo organizer.

Duran said the expo would be a replica of real cultural villages the Department of Tourism is promoting around Mindanao. The concept of the nine-day gathering of indigenous peoples was taken from the Indian Festival in Singapore and the Cultural villages of Sarawak, which are popular to tourists, she added.

During the expo, Lumad priests or shaman (baylan or balyan in some tribes) will perform cultural and ritual-based practices.

Horfilla said the Subanen shaman would perform a ritual in the traditional Lumad "Buklog", a sacred thanksgiving ritual and festivity.

The City's Comprehensive Anti-Smoking Ordinance or City Ordinance No. 043-02,  prohibits smoking inside buildings except in designated smoking areas.

Angeles-Duran said they recognized the local law and nobody would be allowed to smoke during the exposition.

Horfilla said they would ask Office of the City Mayor to declare the Shaman house as a designated smoking area during the duration of the expo.

"There are (government) laws but there are also customary laws," he said.

He clarified, however, that only the shaman would be allowed [to smoke inside the house] where he will perform "culture and ritual-based" practices.

"They (Lumads) have been trying to understand us. It is about time we also have to understand them," he said.

Organizers admitted the problem is related to the issues that confront indigenous peoples who join in festivals and exhibits that aim to draw tourists.

Duran told MindaNews they have assured the lumads will not be abused in the exposition.

"We make sure they are taken care of," she said, citing preparations and the setup that affords them a share of the income derived from tourists.

The expo, which formally opened with a ritual Saturday, also showcases cultural performances and exhibits, public forum, skill-share and creativity workshops, trade fair, craft sales and auctions.

The CTO, National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Department of Tourism Southeastern Mindanao are sponsoring the expo.

It will open for public viewing on Sunday with the agricultural rituals and harvests as highlights. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)