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PIA Press Release

Panay indigenous communities get ancestral domain titles

by ES Subong

Iloilo City (21 January) -- Panay Bukidnon Indigenous Communities in three barangays in the town of Calinog will receive their certificates of ancestral domain titles (CADT) from President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo when she visits the place on January 23, 2005.

Barangays Garangan, Masaroy and Agcalaga, incidentally bearing the acronym GMA, are the domains of about 252 Indigenous Peoples (IPs) households, out of 1,526. The total land area occupied is about 1,748.897 hectares, located at the northern portion of the municipality of Calinog. These communities can be reached through motorcycle, 4-wheelers and by trekking for some hours and rafting.

The National Commission on Indigeous Peoples (NCIP) said that the IP communities are the first to receive their CADT in Panay, after they have completed the delineation process, and satisfactorily provided the inputs to basic requirements such as the subject area being authentically indigenous, the area having been occupied by these indigenous populations since time immemorial, the delineation of the area is in accordance with the principle of self-delineation, and, most importantly, according to NCIP Regional Director Alfonso Catolin, the application for a CADT reflects the general sentiment and desire of the concerned IP community.

The actual field delineation process started in June 2004 some months after the application for the issuance of the CADT was identified as priority by the participants to the Provincial Delineation Action Planning for iloilo in September 2003.

GMA-Calinog is the community of origin of Mr. Federico Caballero, who was one of the three recipients of the 2001 GAWAD Manlilikha ng Bayan (GAMABA) Award and his brother, Romulo Caballero, recipient of the 2004 Search for Outstanding Idigenous Leaders (SOIL) Award for Culture.

The Caballero brothers are the only known still living persons able to recite from memory the just recently discovered original unabridged version of the Hinilawod epic in Ligbok, an archaic form of Kinaray-a and the truly indigenous dialect of Panay Bukidnons, which when reduced into writing, turned out to consist of a marvelously astounding twelve-encyclopedic volumes.

Thus, the community became recipient of a joint-pilot project of the NCIP Region VI/VII, the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the University of the Philippines in the Visayas (UPV)-Balay Turun-an (School for Living Tradition) where Saturday classes for elementary-age children of the community are held, teaching children about Bukidnon oral traditions and culture.

Director Catolin said that President Arroyo's act of distributing the CADT is an initial appreciation of the IPs role in development. More than that, he added, is the fact that by giving them the titles, they are also being given a greater opportunity to develop their culture and form a deeper bonding with the environment that nurtures them. (PIA) [top]

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