Rhodamae M. Hernandez
THE word lumad referring to indigenous people is very Mindanao. Rather, it’s more often spoken in Mindanao when referring to indigenouse tribe, being a Cebuano word that means “native” or “indigenous”, more often the Cebuanos would use the word to refer to where they came from, as in “lumad ko sa…”
As is typical of the settler societies of Mindanao, the word lumad has somehow stuck as to mean indigenous people in common usage.
With it comes the nuances of being of a tribe — both good and bad.
Even the chief of the technical management services division of the National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP), Dr. Lilibeth Malabanan, said that not all indigenous people want to be called “lumad”.
“Sa ilaha man gud, naay connotation na discriminatory (For them, there is a discriminatory tone attached to the word) so they prefer to be called IP’s,” Malabanan told Sunstar Davao.
She said that in Davao City, the major group is composed of the Bagobos with a territory in part of Toril, in Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur and in digos which were titled to them.
“These Bagobos were basically distinguished through their artistic clothes, from head to toe. Naa ni silay head gear and anklet, ang uban naay sequinned na mga damit and for others, naay mga stones (They have headgears, anklets, and some evenb wear sequinned clothes and shiny stones),” Malabanan said.
The other sub-groups are the Ata, Tagabawa, Ubo, Klata, Kalagan and Matigsalog whom were scattered in the different highlands of Davao.
“These Kalagans are originally occupying the shorelines of the city pero sa mga developments, mauna man gyud ang mga shores, nangawala na sila. Mao ni sila ang ginaingon nila na inistoryahan na Dinabaw (since developments almost always start along the shore, the Kalagans were driven off. They are among the original people here and their dialect which we refer to as Dinabaw),”she said.
“Naa pud tay mga Tausug and Maranao who came from Maguindanao and Jolo, mga IPs gihapon na sila but they embraced Islam mao naging mga Muslim sila (Tausug and Maranaos are also tribes from Maguindanao and Jolo but since they embraced Islam, then they have become Muslims),” she said.
The Atas are occupying the Paquibato areas and the Matigsalogs are in the Marilog and Bukidnon areas.
“We conducted a study and traced that historically, these Matigsalogs are atas. Sa ilang lugar man gud dati, naay mga loggers and certain datu Gawilan, the older one, surfaced and naghatag ug bag-ong identity sa ilaha to fight against these loggers, mao nahimo na silang mga Matigsalog,” Malabanan said adding that most of the members of the Matigsalog tribe refused to admit the said study.
The Matigsalogs could in fact have a basis to brush off this study, because an even more extensive one by E. Arsenio Manuel identified the Matigsalog (whom he referred to as Matidsaud) as a distinct tribe.
“My third trip made lear that the people with whom I was dealing were Manuvu. The people in the area call themselves Manuvu and distinguish themseves from the neighboring Matidsaud in the east and north of their territory,” Manuel wrote in his book “Manuvu Social Organization”.
Matigsalog means “of the river”, and in ehtnographic maps of Davao IPs, the Matigsalogs live along the tributaries and the main Davao River, from Davao City to Bukidnon and Arakan Valley in North Cotabato.
One of the distinctive marks Manuel noted in his book that differentiated the Manuvu from the Matidsaud was that of distinctive tattoo marks, “especially the women who have their calves tattooed, but not the Manuvu women”.
And the Matidsaud were known as makers of “palihuma” blades.
Malabanan says that contrary to mainstream belief that indigenous peoples are “illiterate” and thus less knowledgeable, they have indigenous wisdom and knowledge that has guided their tribes.
It is the lack of appreciation and understanding of the lumad ways that is pushing these people further into the sidelines, she said. Even development projects designed to “benefit” the indigenous peoples are being done roughshod, mostly without consulting them.
“For example ang electrification, as we see it, nalipay ta kay naa na silay suga (we rejoice because they now have light) without even thinking if they are ready for the kind of development. Mao pud diay ang hinungdan sa mga incest ug rape cases kay ever since, one room lang gyud na sila and kung naay videoke, mag inom-inom ang papa tapos pag-uli hubog na and naa lang ilang mga dalagita (Even the rise of incest and rape cases can be attributed to developments that do not fit well with their situations. Families have always lived in a single room. With electricity and the popularization of videoke, fathers would hang out till late at night, get drunk, and then he goes home to find his daughters asleep in the same room),” she said.
She also claimed that project of developments in the IP’s area are having good intentions but the implementation often the lumad’s own worlds.
“If we will leave us in their own world, for sure they will stand on their own. They will adjust,” she said.
She said that lumads often become victims because they are vulnerable to the projects and developments even in their ancestral domain.
“They are often victims. Vulnerable sila kay siyempre gusto pud nila ug maayo na panginabuhi, ga handum pud sila para sa ilang pamilya (They are vulnerable because they also aspire for a better life for their families),” Malabanan said.
But with development incursion bulldozing their way into lumad land without ample consultation and understanding, good intentions will not bring the desired results. What is at stake here are people and centuries-old cultures that very few have taken the effort to understand. (with SAE)