(Kitaotao, Bukidnon/06 June 2015). The Federation of Matigsalog-Manobo Tribal Councils, Inc. (FEMMATRICS) met with COPERS for intercultural dialogue facilitated by Barangay Captain Raul Balande in Barangay Sinuda, Kitaotao, Bukidnon. The dialogue was held on the request of ADMU Vice President for University and Global Relations Fr. Joey Cruz, SJ and Thomas Klompmaker, an official of the United Nation’s University for Peace in Costa Rica.
The intercultural encounter began with a traditional panubad ritual officiated by Datu Roelito Gawilan, who later shared the oral history of the ancestral domain claim of the Matigsalog-Manobo on the 78,134-hectare land on the triboundary of North Cotabato, Bukidnon, and Davao. Talking in mixed Tagalog, Visaya, Matigsalog, and English, Gawilan impressed the Council of Elders’ visitors with his quick memory for names and faces and his grasp of dates, historical personages, and legal citations without need for documentary references.
Ilagan was joined by COPERS Affiliates Fr. Gabriel Jose T. Gonzalez, SJ, Rodge Lelis, and Ralph Elusfa and UP Visayas student Sage Ilagan who worked on documentation. ADDU Board of Trustees member Dr. Jose Rene Lacuesta accompanied the group, together with his daughter Liza and his wife Dr. Marlina Lacuesta, who had re-introduced Ilagan to the barangay captain last 30 May 2015. Present also were tribal members, mostly women and children.
Among the matters shared by the tribal elders during the dialogue included procedures for long-term intercultural engagement with non-tribal entities, population and security issues, as well as health and education needs. Dr. Jore Lacuesta, who heads the Davao Medical School Foundation, Inc. (DMSF), inquired on the tribe’s access to DMSF scholarship grants for community health personnel training while ADDU Academic Vice President Fr. Gabriel Gonzalez sought information on the senior high school readiness of the Matigsalog youth.
Ilagan asked about security risks posed on tribal members, with the ancestral domain known to be a transit point between crucial insurgent bases on its peripheries. The company enjoyed a light moment when Gawilan in response mentioned the peace talks being held in The Hague where Klompmaker hails from. Klompmaker, meanwhile, had questions probing the prospects of cultural integrity.
Sharing insights after the dialogue, Klompmaker and COPERS Director Gail Ilagan agreed to have been privileged witnesses to the workings of the mind of an organic intellectual in this encounter with Gawilan. Fr. Gonzalez meanwhile mused on the importance of literature as an academic discipline in capturing details of IP history that seldom show up in history textbooks.
COPERS Affiliates Cezar Zaldivar and Randolph Reserva prepared the materials needed for this activity. University Publications Office Director and Davao historian Dr. Macario Tiu provided background information on FEMMATRICS and its ancestral domain. ADDU President Fr. Joel Tabora was on hand early morning of 06 June 2015 to send off the group with his blessings.