Higaonon chieftain to be feted for forest protection works

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/ 20 October)– For his “proven leadership in community forestry and strong guidance in the protection of Mt. Kimangkil,” one of the sacred mountains in Northern Mindanao, Higaonon tribal leader Amay Mantangkilan Cumatang of Impasugong, Bukidnon would be given local honors next week.

Datu Amay Mantangkilan. Mindanews Photo by Walter Balane
Datu Amay Mantangkilan. Mindanews Photo by Walter Balane

Cumatang was awarded with the Darrell Posey Fellowship Program during the 13th Congress of the International Society of Ethnobiology (ISE) in France in May 2012.

The local awarding of the fellowship is on Wednesday at The Garden here. It is organized by the non-government organizations Non-Timber Forest Products-Task Force and the Fr. Vincent Cullen Tulugan Learning and Development Center.

“He has effectively practiced and used his immense traditional ecological knowledge to ensure the conservation of their forest,” the local organizers said.

Representatives from the local government unit, civil society and the Higaonon tribe were invited to the event.

The Darrell Posey Fellowship Program promotes the understanding of peoples’ complex and dynamic relationships with their environment, and supports indigenous peoples and local communities working to sustainably manage, and secure rights to, their environment and resources.

“Datu Mantangkilan … has fought for the recognition and respect for their ancestral domain and sacred forest lands against external threats such as encroachments and blind development projects. His efforts have led the Higaonon community towards securing land tenure through peace, and integrity to their culture,” the ISE said.

Cumatang is the head claimant of the 14,313-hectare Agtulawon, Mintapod, Higaonon Cumadon (Agmihicu) ancestral domain in Impasug-ong town. The certificate of ancestral domain title (CADT) was awarded to the tribe in May 2008.

They became the fourth tribe awarded with a CADT and the seventh issued with a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim in Bukidnon, according to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples – Bukidnon Office in 2008.

The title covers indigenous cultural communities in the villages of Mintapod, Kiudto, Lonson, Tug-unganon, Bontongon, Lamingan, Kabagtukan, Pulahon, Naabat, Hagpa barangay proper, Paculab and Mahagwa of Barangay Kalabugao in Impasugon town. It also covers portion of Amosig village in Barangay San Luis, Malitbog town.

Agmihicu’s claim book said the tribe traces its claim to the area since the 15th century.

The tribe is a major producer of hinabol, a textile woven from abaca fiber, which has landed in the export market.

In 2008, Ma. Shirlene Sario, NCIP-Bukidnon officer, said that one of the advantages of the tribe was that they were trained to culture the propagation of abaca to address supply problems brought a fiber disease.

Sinibug, a wine from sugarcane, is another potential and lucrative product of the tribe, she said.

The tribe has reportedly mastered the technique to preserve the wine. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)