Learning to chart their own course


IPs participate in capacity-building workshop

SSAI Trustee Danilo Tumangkis explains his output in one of the Workshop sessions. Holding his drawing is CReDO Officer Elvie Asuan.

Self-determination. Empowerment. Cultural preservation. Sustainable development. Lofty but seemingly elusive ideals for indigenous peoples (IPs) the world over as they strive to strike a balance between the need to develop in a modern age on one hand, and to preserve generations-old traditions on the other. Stories of IP struggles in the face of the inevitable advance of modern civilization abound, as in those of the North American First Nations. Some tribes still struggle to cope. Others initially faltered; but, through lessons learned from past mistakes, were able to rise – and prosper.With these lessons in mind and as part of its continuing efforts to support the capacity building for self-determination of its Subanon hosts in Canatuan, Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte, TVI Resource Development Philippines, Inc. (TVIRD) recently conducted a three-day Organization Development and Training Workshop at the adjacent Ipil town in Zamboanga Sibugay Province. The workshop was designed to assist the Subanon leaders define their responsibilities to their immediate community, to appreciate their strengths as individuals and as an organization, as well as to clarify their rights under the Mining Act of 1995 and the Indigenous Peoples Rights Law (IPRA). By working with the IPs toward this knowledge, TVIRD hopes to support them in their efforts to implement their Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan (ADSDPP), a tool for the empowerment of IPs towards the fulfillment of the general well-being of the current IP generation without compromising the needs of future generations.

“The discussion on Mining Act and IPRA made us aware of our rights and responsibilities as IPs”, said Lydia Dandana, Siocon Subanon Association, Inc. (SSAI) Board of Trustee of the Workshop conducted by TVIRD’s Community Relations and Development Office (CReDO).

“This training workshop has been enlightening,” averred Bonifacio “Boy” Patoh, Chairman of Canatuan’s host barangay, Tabayo, and newly elected SSAI President. “We are able to set our plans concerning the implementation of ADSDPP.”

For his part, SSAI Vice President Danilo Bason stressed that “this activity is helpful to us as SSAI Officers. We are able to understand more our duties to the community.”

In the Workshop sessions, the Subanon participants were asked to imagine a better Subano community: one that has equal rights to, among others, education, livelihood and health services; one that is united; and one where the Subanon culture is preserved. The participants agreed that a deeper understanding of their fellow Subanon’s needs will eventually eradicate frictions between and among members of their tribe.

Resource persons included fellow Subanons who are now well-respected members of society, as well as national and local officials of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples led by Noella Zunega and Zamboanga del Norte Provincial Director Lista “Jun” Cawanan. Noted IP Rights Lawyer Marilyn Cepe, who helped draft the IPRA, also provided valuable insights during the Workshop.

Apart from Dandana, Patoh and Bason, the other Subanon leaders who joined the Workshop were: SSAI Secretary Chirino Limpuson, Paho Fuentevilla, Pasing Bason, Alberto Mais, Andres Ansani, Santiago Sumampang, Yolanda Herolaga, Erdulfo Comisas, Celestino Guinagag, Zenaida Dandana and Danilo Tumangkis. Asst. Treasurer Nenita Davi as well as Julie Lobrigas, personal secretary of Patoh were also present.

Among the Workshop outputs is SSAI’s plan of action for the first quarter of 2007. The Plan includes the conduct of Capability Building Training for the immediate community which, in turn, will involve Community Organizing Training, Leadership Training, Financial Management and Auditing, Cultural Refresher, Values Formation, as well as Project Development training for the ADSDPP, slated to be implemented in April this year.

The Organizational Development Training for SSAI was inspired by the IP Capacity-Building Workshop sponsored by the Canadian Embassy late last year in Dipolog City, the capital of the Canatuan Project’s host province. (Rene Patangan)