GenSan to establish tribal villages in 10 barangays

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 30 May) – The city government is planning to establish tribal villages in 10 barangays here settled by the Blaan tribe to help promote and preserve their rich culture and traditions.

City Mayor Ronnel Rivera disclosed the initiative on Wednesday during the formal oath-taking on Wednesday of 10 Blaan tribal leaders as Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representatives (IPMR) of their barangays.

The IPMRs are from Barangays Tinagacan, Olympog, Tambler, Bawing, Sinawal, Batomelong, Conel, Upper Labay, San Jose, and Labangal.

Rivera said he will tap the newly-designated IP representatives to facilitate the development of the tribal villages.

“This is not just for tourism purposes but also to preserve the Blaan culture. We embrace development but at the same time we also want to preserve our culture,” he said.

The mayor said he had discussed the initial details of the proposed tribal villages with outgoing City Councilor Ramon Milleza.

He said they are considering developing a tribal village in all 10 barangays with IPMR representatives and settlements of Blaans.

Each tribal village will showcase the culture and lifestyle of the Blaans, and will serve as a facility to help educate the city’s next generations as well as visitors about the tribe and the area’s history, he said.

The Blaans are the earliest documented settlers of the city and coined its original name, Dadiangas, from a tree with thorns on its trunk and stems that had reportedly thrived in the area.

Since 2015, the city celebrates the Blaan Day every July 22 to honor the tribe.

The mayor said the local government has lined up two major “deliverables” for the Blaans – the establishment of a museum and Kasfala Hall at the city government center.

Kasfala is a Blaan term for a traditional meeting of elders for gift exchanges and settlement or resolution of disputes.

The planned Kasfala Hall will be a venue for the city tribal council and elders to formulate and implement policies, programs, projects, and activities for the advancement of the IPs in the city.

Rivera added that his office will continue to work with the city council’s IPMR, Councilor Lucio Cawayan, and City Tribal Chieftain Bong Fulung Danilo Baliwan to promote the welfare and ensure the delivery of proper services to the Blaan communities in the city. (MindaNews)