BUKIDNON VIEWS: Loreta Sol Dinlayan on Kaamulan and ethnicity (First of two parts)

By Loreta Sol Dinlayan for Bukidnon News

Kaamulan and ethnicity
(First of two parts)

MALAYBALAY CITY (Bukidnon News/26 February)     – I attended the opening
rite for Kaamulan 2012 on February 24 with some students in Sociology
who have the opportunity to listen to Datu Mansiliban’s story on how
Bukidnon got its people.

Datu Manisiliban is from Barangay Patpat, Malaybalay City. I have the
prompting to listen to that story again one of these weeks. Right
after that short session with the Datus, we handed coins as our
pandingding to provide us capacity to ‘carry the weight’ of the

In Bukidnon culture, we believe that each story, especially coming
from a recognized Datu, contains a ‘weight’ for the receiver to carry.
A pandingding is also a means to thank the Magbabaya for allowing the
Datu as a channel to His wisdom. Only the Magbabaya has the wisdom;
and the rest of the populace like a Datu is just channels.

The giving of pandingding is an expression of thanking the source of
the story, not just the channel of the story.

It is through this course that we usually demand for the free and
prior informed consent (FPIC) before consuming any of the Bukidnon
culture’s treasures. The FPIC is not an added burden, as others
believe, to the researchers, artists or students who want to extract
knowledge from the Bukidnon. It is simply a necessary act of respect.

For the past weeks, I’ve been meditating on the impact of the
ethnic-consciousness of the people in Bukidnon in relation to the
coming Kaamulan festival, a yearly cultural activity claiming to be
show-casing the hill tribes of Bukidnon. Such claim has a weight to
burden the shoulders of those behind the celebration since many
visitors would expect something cultural or ethnic from this affair.
If we can’t satisfy the visitors, especially the foreign ones, we
would simply advise them to go to cultural ghettos like Sinuda of
Matigsalog, Mintapod of Higaonon, Songco of Talaandig or the
Daraghuyan of the Bukidnons. At least in these ghettos, they will find
a space where living culture is.

In the midst of this grand welcoming of the festival, I can sense a
little distortion in our dealings with the Bukidnon culture. I’m not
referring to the agencies or committees given the task to deliver
services during the celebration though their hands could do or undo
the noble goals of the affair.

I’m referring to the whole populace, Lumads or Non-lumads of
Bukidnon. Distortion includes hostility towards other ethnic groups by
discriminating or excluding others. Some Bukidnon tribes are playing
supremacy by saying that they are the only authentic tribe or that
they belong to a royal Bukidnon family. Each ethnic group has no
monopoly of an authentic culture because the universality of culture
puts them in a common ground, no superior or inferior tribal group.

For many times I’ve been expressing that Bukidnon culture is not
exclusivist in character. It includes everyone including the
non-lumads, no wonder we have the value of kalalagan or generosity
which is not selective. This is what I’ve witnessed in my late
father’s, Datu Bagangbangan, style in serving the people where no
geographical locations are considered. He had extended his tulugan (a
big house where to accommodate people on travel) in Quezon City in the
80s where people in need from varied regions are accommodated. I am a
living witness of this act of a datu. I realize that ethnic bonds
could be negotiable and not strictly biological.

This explains why a ritual is open for everyone having distinct
cultural background; no one is casted as an outsider. The bangkaso
(where offerings are placed) of a ritual among the Bukidnons
accommodates everyone during the panampulot (end part of a ritual
where everyone is invited to partake a portion of food while saying a
personal prayer), the Lumads or Non-lumads. This shows the
non-exclusivist nature of the culture. (To be continued.)

(BUKIDNON VIEWS is the opinion section of Bukidnon News. Loreta Sol
Dinlayan is a social science instructor at Bukidnon State University,
where she also works as in-charge of the university’s museum.)


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