‘Malaybalay founding anniversary rites short of history’

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/14 June) — The commemoration of the city’s 135th founding anniversary lacked “sense of history” and understanding of the people who built the place as a settlement before the Spanish colonizers arrived, a Lumad leader today said.

Umayamnon Datu Benjamin “Otto” Omao said that while he was thankful the city government has added a pamuhat (ritual) to its commemoration program on Friday (June 15), there should be [other] ethnic activities.

Omao is the mandatory representative of the indigenous peoples to the city council.

The city marks on Friday its 135th foundation anniversary Valenzuela City Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian as the keynote speaker on the theme “Fueled by the past success, boosted to a certain future.”

It will start with a ritual at the Ereccion del Pueblo (creation of the town) monument at the Rizal Plaza along the highway to be followed with a program at the city covered court.

The event marks the submission of 31 tribal leaders led by Datu Mampaalong to Spanish dominion and Christianity in 1877, after years of resistance.

At the time, the tribes already had several settlements in what is now known as Malaybalay. These settlements were proclaimed by the Spaniards as a pueblo named “Oroquieta del Interior.”

The monument features nine human figures, including one on horseback, depicting the characters in the June 1, 1877 pact made between the representatives of the Spanish colonial government and the leaders of the villages in and around Malaybalay.

Omao said the city government, too, should manifest its vision for the Lumad in the city including how to promote respect of their culture and customary laws.

“Foremost, there has to be recognition of the Lumad’s ancestral domain,” he said, as the Lumad are the “owners” of Malaybalay.

The datu said the city government must help the Lumad restore their economic system particularly the indigenous farming system as against the synthetic farming brought from outside.

Omao also said Datu Mampaalong accepted Spanish rule because the Lumad “wanted peace to prevail in Malaybalay.

He said it should not be viewed as a surrender of their heritage and identity.

He added that city officials and the public must look at that point in history as a manifestation of the Lumad’s love for peace.

“If there is no peace and order, there won’t be real progress, development,” he said.

Omao said the value of looking at history lies in its implications on the city’s present day peace and order situation.

One important lesson, he said, is to involve the indigenous way of settling disputes.

Omao had criticized the budget for Friday’s event. He cited that no amount was set aside for the Lumad.

He lamented that while the Lumad got nothing from the budget of P1.07 million for the Araw celebration, the city allotted P96, 620 for the castration and spaying of dogs and cats. He said mocking of animals, especially dogs, is a curse and should have not been included in the activity.

The budget included amounts for food and sport competitions.

Vice Mayor Victor Aldeguer said the city government allocated special budget for the indigenous peoples during the Kaamulan festival and the IP Month celebration in October.

Omao took his oath of office as mandatory representative of the IPs to the city council on May 22 by virtue of Republic Act 8371, or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997.

The council will hand to him the committee on ethnic and indigenous cultural communities’ development, now chaired by Councilor Fernando O. Melendez, who also comes from the city’s IP community.  (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)