Maximizing the time and attendance on the afternoon of December 16, 2022, the Xavier Science Foundation (XSF) reconvened 39 young leaders representing 21 barangays within the Mt. Kalatungan landscape in the province of Bukidnon, Mindanao for the activity titled Youth, Land and Culture: A Summit for Young Defenders towards Protecting Ancestral Domain at the Hotel De Susana, Bagontaas, Valencia City, Bukidnon.
This time, the summit is under XSF’s project Mt. Kalatungan BioCon: Creating Innovative Environmental Solutions and Sustainable Livelihoods in partnership with Gerry Roxas Foundation-Investing in Sustainability and Partnerships for Inclusive Growth and Regenerative Ecosystems (GRF-INSPIRE) project with funding support from US Agency for International Development (USAID).
XSF believes that learning the cultural history of Indigenous Peoples (IP) is imperative for becoming grounded in circumstances, significantly for youth, as it will develop a sense of identity, teach them values, and help them understand the changes taking place, particularly in the context of Ancestral Domain (AD).
It is apparent that land must be viewed as an intergenerational concern. That is why, Datu Herminio Guinto, Board of Adviser of Nagkahiusang Manobong Manununod sa Yutang Kabilin (NAMAMAYUK) asserted the importance of tracing the family’s genealogy along with wisdom for the younger generation. He expressed, “Parya sa adlaw nga sumasalop na, kailangan mapasabot nato ang atong mga anak, mga pag-umangkon, mga silingan nga ang kaapohan mapasa sa ilaha para atimanon ang sunod na kaliwatan…Karon, ang ilang rights natamakan. Kinsa man mo-assert para sa ila? Kung mobiya ta sa genealogy, kinsa man atong sangpiton panahon sa ilang panginahanglan?” [To those of us who are already in our twilight years, we must let our children, nieces and nephews, and neighbors understand that they need to nurture the next generation… Their rights are violated now. Who will assert for them? If we leave genealogy, who do we turn to in times of need?]
Furthermore, Datu Antonio Dagoc Jr., an active IP youth leader, discussed the roles of the youth in AD protection in light of the growing technologies, fast-paced events, and intercultural exchanges that may have harmed young people’s perspectives. The youth should not only focusing on their respective community, but also engaging in the different practices, struggles and expertise of other indigenous communities. It is also significant to learn at least the basic indigenous knowledge or terminologies of the tribe. As Datu Dajoc Jr. emphasized, “Dili pwede na taman ramo moingon na, ‘You are proud to be a member of Manobo, Higau-non, and Talaandig communities’ pero Kёrёkitёk (indigenous term, an insect found in water, pronouced as Karakitak) wala kaila. That is a dako na laparo sa atong mga kaapohan.” [You cannot just claim that you are proud to be a member of Manobo, Higau-non, and Talaandig communities but do not know Kёrёkitёk. It’s such a disgrace for our successors.]
Learning fundamental knowledge would strengthen one’s sense of cultural pride and identity, and serve as a gateway to more culturally sensitive developments.
He also highlighted that the youth should see Mt. Kalatungan as more than just a mountain where their daily resources are identified, or as simply a part of their life – but rather as their life. This implies that it should be valued and protected regardless.
Above all, to protect Mt. Kalatungan means to recognizing it. Respecting the wisdom of IP elders such as the Datu, Bae, and Baylan is part of this. As Datu Dajoc Jr. mentioned, “Sila ang yabi para kanang kinabuhi na atong ginaprotektahan, magpabilin na kinabuhi.” [They are the key so that the life we are protecting will remain alive.]
Ancestral Domain is an interesting concept, but also comes with a challenging work. Its laws and policies over it are overlapping and poorly managed. Concerns about food insecurity and land conflicts are some results of vicious cycle of humanity’s negligence and selfishness. That is why, investing in youth particularly on IP, is an urgent call for everyone. They have to be engaged in both cultural and political activities. Youth, as cliché as it may appear, are the valuable seeds of the future. ###