Bukidnon-Tagoloan tribe reclaims riverside sacred site

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/14 January) – Members of the Bukidnon-Tagoloan tribe today held a ritual symbolizing their recovery of a spring along the Sawaga River bank, which their ancestors had used as a traditional sacred site, even if a private hog slaughterhouse stands next to it now.

Braving the rains that poured the whole day today, descendants of of Datu Mampaalong and Datu Mansikiabo, renowned forefathers of the Bukidnon tribe in the pre-Hispanic period, attended the ritual called panendan in Sakub, the spring site, believed to be in this city’s original settlement area.

Anilaw Inlantong Erwin Marte, chair of the Bukidnon Unified Tribal Development Council of Elders Inc., which facilitated the activity said the event was “very significant” in the assertion of ownership of indigenous territories.

“At least we were able to retrieve the site for now after decades of neglect,” he told MindaNews after the ritual led by datus, baes and tribal elders.

In the panendan, the Bukidnon-Tagoloan tribe not only declared Sakub as a sacred site and fulfilled a forgotten tradition but also asserted their rights to their ancestral domain, he added.

Marte said it is a customary obligation of the indigenous peoples to continue the historical tradition as custodians. He recalled that the last panendan in Sakub was in the early 1990s, when an elderly baylan (shaman) did the ritual alone for years.

“When she died, the tradition died with her,” he said.

Old-time ethnographer and historian Ludivina Opeña, attended and narrated the history of the site. She called Sakub one of the forgotten historical sites of Malaybalay.

Marte’s group, Butridce, plans to erect a billboard marking and declaring the site as sacred and warning against further disrespecting it.

Marte said they paid homage to the traditional sacred site vowing to do the same thing every year.

The tribe made a “customary proclamation” of Sakub as a historical landmark and sacred site of the indigenous peoples of Malaybalay City.

Representatives of the biggest clans of the tribe, the Melendez and Moreno clans were represented by retired Regional Trial Court judges Jesus Barroso and Benjamin Estrada.

Other tribal leaders like Talaandig Datu Migketay Victorino Saway and Datu Mansiliban, also attended.

The event became a reunion too of relatives and tribe members. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)