Bukidnon-Tagolwanon tribe reclaims Sawaga sacred site

MALAYBALAY CITY (Bukidnon News/14 January) – Members of the
Bukidnon-Tagoloan tribe today held a ritual symbolizing their recovery
of a spring along the Sawaga River bank, which their ancestors had
used as a traditional sacred site, even if a private hog
slaughterhouse stands next to it now.

Braving the rains that poured the whole day today, descendants of of
Datu Mampaalong and Datu Mansikiabo, renowned forefathers of the
Bukidnon tribe in the pre-Hispanic period, attended the ritual called
panendan in Sakub, the spring site, believed to be in this city’s
original settlement area.

Anilaw Inlantong Erwin Marte, chair of the Bukidnon Unified Tribal
Development Council of Elders Inc., which facilitated the activity
said the event was “very significant” in the assertion of ownership of
indigenous territories.

“At least we were able to retrieve the site for now after decades of
neglect,” he told Bukidnon News after the ritual led by datus, baes
and tribal elders.

In the panendan, the Bukidnon-Tagoloan tribe not only declared Sakub
as a sacred site and fulfilled a forgotten tradition but also asserted
their rights to their ancestral domain, he added.

Marte said it is a customary obligation of the indigenous peoples to
continue the historical tradition as custodians. He recalled that the
last panendan in Sakub was in the early 1990s, when an elderly baylan
(shaman) did the ritual alone for years.

“When she died, the tradition died with her,” he said.

Old-time ethnographer and historian Ludivina Opeña, attended and
narrated the history of the site. She called Sakub one of the
forgotten historical sites of Malaybalay.

Marte’s group, Butridce, plans to erect a billboard marking and
declaring the site as sacred and warning against further disrespecting

Marte said they paid homage to the traditional sacred site vowing to
do the same thing every year.

The tribe made a “customary proclamation” of Sakub as a historical
landmark and sacred site of the indigenous peoples of Malaybalay City.

Representatives of the biggest clans of the tribe, the Melendez and
Moreno clans were represented by retired Regional Trial Court judges
Jesus Barroso and Benjamin Estrada.

Other tribal leaders like Talaandig Datu Migketay Victorino Saway and
Datu Mansiliban, also attended.

The event became a reunion too of relatives and tribe members. (Walter
I. Balane/Bukidnon News)


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