Bukidnon’s Kaamulan opens with calls for unity

Street dancing during the 2018 Kaamulan. MindaNews file photo by H. MARCOS C. MORDENO

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 27 March) — Top officials of Bukidnon urged for unity towards progress as the Kaamulan, a festival that aims to showcase the province’s indigenous cultures, formally opened on Saturday with a ritual and other colorful activities.

Gov. Rogelio Neil P. Roque, overseeing his first Kaamulan as governor after winning the post in the May 2022 elections, called for a focus on positive similarities for the entire province.

He said lessons on unity could be learned from the indigenous peoples of Bukidnon, whose different traits have not stopped them from coming together [for the festival].

Kaamulan traces its etymology to “amul-amul,” which means to gather or come together in Binukid, the province’s indigenous language.

For this year the festival carries the theme ““One Bukidnon: A celebration of unity in cultural diversity.”

”Let us gather together in a peaceful brotherhood for a peaceful and prosperous Bukidnon,” Roque said, adding the focus should not be on individual music but on harmony, the music sum, which he said “is greater than the music played by individual parts.”

He urged Bukidnon’s 1.5 million residents in 464 barangays, 20 towns and two cities, and seven tribes to “bond” as “one Bukidnon.”

In the run-up to the May 2022 elections, then 4th District Rep. Roque ran with the slogan “Bagong Bukidnon” (New Bukidnon).

The governor also expressed hope for a better economy for the province after the pandemic, which stalled the staging of the Kaamulan in 2020, 2021, and 2022.

”Finally we can celebrate the Kaamulan… I can see our patronage of food and goods. I hope that our merriment may result in the rise of our economy, in business, tourism, and others,” he said in his remarks, made after the presentation of the contingents in the elementary category of the drum and lyre competitions.

Vice Gov. Clive D. Quiño thanked other officials and organizers for the staging of Kaamulan 2023 and offered thanks to God for stopping the pandemic and allowing the celebration.

He said the people of Bukidnon, like the seven tribes, are strongly united, understanding, and loving, which to him is the “spirit of Kaamulan.”

Earlier, Roque and Quiño led local and regional officials in the ribbon-cutting, which was done after the pamukalag, a traditional ritual led by baylans (shamans) and elders of the province’s seven tribes.  

According to a briefing kit provided to the media, the pamukalag is a pangabli, or an opening ritual, which is traditionally done before any tribal activity is started. The ritual is done as a pangampo or an offering of aspirations and prayers to keep the Kaamulan activities away from accidents and other untoward incidents and for peace and order to prevail instead.

The shamans offered a pig and seven chickens of different colors in the ritual, the chickens symbolizing the seven tribes.

Datu Bagani Arbie S. Llesis, the indigenous peoples mandatory representative to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, said he is hoping for the passage of the IP Code in the province to ensure a budget for the IPs.

He said that since Bukidnon is now a “shared territory” of Lumad and non-Lumad, the IPs should be included in the province’s development.

He recounted the time when it was the Lumad who accommodated and helped the settlers when they arrived in Bukidnon.

He said it may be high time for the settlers to “return the love back to the IPs.”

”Gagaw (love in Binukid) is the spirit of Kaamulan,” he added.  (MindaNews)