BUENAVISTA, Agusan del Norte – An Indigenous People (IP) ritual was joined by the troopers of the 23rd Infantry (Masigasig) Battalion (23IB) in a village in Gingoog City in Misamis Oriental.
Dubbed as “Dumalongdong daw Talabugta”, the IP ritual was conducted on March 6, 2021, in Sitio Bagasbas, Barangay Sangalan, Gingoog City which carried the theme: “Dumalongdong ko Nangalasan ha Ininay/Inamay ta Baliguihan Saindadawat ko Nanaglasan ko Pinaglaw ha Lagimo Dangal ha Tinayongan hi Apo Pinaglaw, Apo Pinalibong daw Apo Pinaduyan.”
The activity was a Higaonon rite that was also participated by the Indigenous People Mandatory Representatives (IPMRs) of Misamis Oriental and Agusan del Norte together with representatives from the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) and the local government unit (LGU) of Gingoog.
The ritual was a thanksgiving for abundance as the leaders of the Higaonon tribe implored for supervision as they continue to lead their communities. The activity also allowed the young generation of Higaonon to internalize the value of their customs and traditions and to ensure its continuity to the next generation.
Through the activity, the partnership between the 23IB, the LGU, and the IP leaders was also strengthened with the commitment to continue to support each other in the different peace and development initiatives.
The oldest IP leader in Barangay Sangalan, Datu Hulukoman Eladio S. Lutao was present during the ritual. The leader is a known protector of the community for years and he urged his fellow IP leaders to build up their efforts to ensure the security and safety of Sangalan and the rest of their ancestral domain from the threats of terrorist groups, such as the New People’s Army (NPA).
“Dili sayon ang responsibilidad nga gisangon kanato isip mga tribal leaders apan kita ang gipili niana tungod kay aduna kitay kapasidad nga mag gunit sa maong katungdanan. Magtinabangay kita aron panalipdan ang atong tribu ug ang atong yutang kabilin aron mapahimuslan pa kini sa umaabot nga henerasyon. Ang atong pagka lider maghatag kanato ug dungog ug aduna kini kauban nga mga hagit nga atong paga atubangon, apan mabuntog nato kini kung kita mag maisugon ug mag tinabangay,” Datu Hulukoman said.
During the activity, Gingoog City Mayor Erick G. Cañosa introduced the plans and programs of the city government for Barangay Sangalan, including the priority services for the youths and students in the area.
“The city government of Gingoog already implemented programs and services especially for the youth and the students in order for them to continue learning and be employed by time. Even in this time of the pandemic, we will still find ways to give education a value so that our IP youth will have the chance to learn. We also offered free skills training so that the graduates will have a bigger opportunity to improve their livelihood. Aside from that, we offer a free dormitory so that every youth will be educated and will have easy access to education, because education is the greatest asset we can have to change our lives positively,” Mayor Cañosa said.
Lt. Col. Julius Cesar C. Paulo, the Commanding Officer of 23IB, thanked the barangay council and the IP leaders of Sangalan for helping the government in maintaining peace and order in the area.
“We are glad that the IP leaders and the members of the barangay council of Sangalan are active in protecting their community to maintain peace and order,” Paulo said.
He emphasized that the neighboring barangays of Sangalan continue to suffer from the exploitation and other terroristic activities of the NPAs.
“Developments in communities slow down due to the presence of these terrorist NPAs. Unlike in other areas, we can clearly witness the developments that continue to unfold in Barangay Sangalan through the unity of its leaders. No recorded atrocities, no extortions, and recruitment of the youth took place in this barangay because you are protecting each other from these terrorists,” Paulo said.
He urged the leaders of Sangalan to continue their cause and advocacies for peace and development.
“We, the soldiers of 23IB is only one call away. You can tap us whenever you need our assistance especially when it comes to security-related problems,” Paulo said.