Celebrating Subanon Culture on Earth Day


A show of commitment to environmental and cultural preservation

Podayunon og kotububu botad nog Subanon! (Long live the Subano Culture!)

The faces of members of this tribe were a picture of happiness and pride as they chanted and danced to their own music during the festive kickoff last April 22 of the Subanon Cultural Night in Canatuan, the Subanon ancestral domain in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte and host to the gold-copper operations of TVI Resource Development (Phils.), Inc. (TVIRD).

A Subanon woman struts her stuff, accompanied by a “kutapi,” a two-string indigenous guitar, played by a Tribung Dipag band member. The IPs were a picture of happiness and pride.

Purposely launched during this year’s International Earth Day celebration, the cultural presentation served to symbolize TVIRD’s commitment to protect and preserve both the environment in Canatuan as well as the culture and tradition of the people who live in it. The Subanon Cultural Night, held at the clubhouse within the Company premises, will become a monthly celebration – and part of TVIRD’s growing list of cultural events in Canatuan.

The Subanon ladies were in their element at the “kulintang” percussion section…

…as their men kept busy jamming with visiting musicians, not to be outdone.

“This activity underscores our respect for the traditional and cultural practices of our host indigenous community in Canatuan,” Felice Yeban, TVIRD Director for Community Relations and Development Office (CReDO), said. “We believe that a full understanding and deeper knowledge of the Subano culture will further promote a harmonious relationship with our hosts.

“There can be no denying that the Subanon traditional practices are a true mark of their identity handed down from generation to generation,” Yeban adds. “We view the monthly cultural night, now an official Company activity, as an opportunity for the Subanons to express their talents on a regular basis and, at the same time, promote a better understanding of their culture.”

Thess Limpin, TVIRD Canatuan CReDO manager (lady in white), whoops it up with Subanon children: “We are making plans for a bigger celebration.

The celebration showcased different cultural numbers and environment-inspired performances from local Subanons and members of Tribung Dipag, a cultural group based in Dipolog City (Zamboanga del Norte’s provincial capital), and known for its use of indigenous musical instruments. These instruments include the agong (a large gong), kutapi (a two-string wooden guitar), sigitan (a bamboo guitar), kulintang (eight small gongs) and budyong (a bamboo blade).

Perfectly complementing the native instruments during the celebration were bamboo flutes and a bamboo rainstick that produces the sound of raindrops

And if the reactions of those who participated in the launching of the celebration were to be gauge, it is clear that the Subanon Cultural Night will be a much-awaited event:

“We are happy that TVIRD initiated the cultural presentation, which enabled us to show our talents,” said Lydia Dandana, a member of the Subanon Council of Elders. “We would like activities like this to continue so our culture will be preserved. The presentation is timely. The new generation of Subanons no longer practice our culture.”

Alberto Mais, also a member of the Council of Elders, could not contain his elation: “We are proud of our culture. We are proud to be Subanons. I am very happy that I was able to take part in the cultural presentation. My deepest thanks to TVIRD for respecting our culture.”

“It was a real treat for us to be playing for, and jamming with, true-blue Subanons,” Jerry Rivas of Tribung Dipag. “It’s our first time to perform with the real Subanons and it was a really memorable experience.”

“The presentation was undoubtedly a huge success! The Subanons beamed with happiness all throughout the show,” Theresa Limpin, TVIRD Canatuan CReDO manager, said. “It gave them pride, and they were grateful that we are doing something to preserve and promote their culture. We will be making bigger plans for the next Cultural Night…a bigger area and a bigger celebration.”
“The launching of the Subanon Cultural Night during the Earth Day celebration gave us in TVIRD the opportunity to show that we take good care not only of Mother Earth, but of her children as well,” said, CReDO’s Jose Dagala.

In the later part of the show, the Subanons, mostly members of the Council of Elders, and TVIRD personnel led by Limpin danced the night away to the tune of modified Subano music played by Tribung Dipag and pure Subanons.

Dipolog City’s Tribung Dipag: a memorable night with the Subanons.

The first foreign-financed mining company to reach production stage since the passage of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995, TVIRD has endeavored to bring sustainable development to its host community through its various socio-economic development programs. The Company recognizes the need to be sensitive to the Subanon culture and to be ever mindful of their aspirations as a community.

Early this year, TVIRD initiated an Art Workshop for Subanon women, assisted by the Zamboanga del Norte Federation of Visual Artists. Participants to the workshop are planning to put up a display area or souvenir shop, even a Subanon museum in Canatuan to showcase the rich culture and tradition of their ancestors and of their men and women today. (Rene Patangan)

Subanon children had a swell time watching their elders perform: “The cultural presentation is timely (since) the new generation of Subanons no longer practice our culture.

TVIRD CReDO personnel, led by its Director, Felice Yeban (seated, 2nd from right), pose with Subanon leaders and Canatuan vistitors that included Dr. Ideltruda Ybarsabal, campus adminstrator of the Jose Rizal Memorial State College, Siocon Campus (seated, 3rd from left): “The Company recognizes the need to be sensitive to the Subanon culture, ever mindful of their aspirations as a community.”