Reviving a culture among the young


TVIRD hosts Subanon Summer Youth Camp

For many of the indigenous youths who attended a camp in a remote mountain village in Southern Philippines recently, the Summer of 2007 will surely be one that they will always remember. The activities lined up by the event organizers provided the young Subanons not only the opportunity to meet new friends, to have fun, and to commune with nature, but also a learning environment that taught them to have a deeper love for, and appreciation of, their own culture – one that, before the camp, had been slowly vanishing in a fast modernizing world.

ZANFEVAI’s Don Gurrea (standing left) gives pointers to a budding Subanon artist, while young dancers practice a cultural number in the background.

TVIRD CReDO’s Elvie Asuan (standing in black), a professional educator, briefs young Subanons: boosting their self-confidence.

Aptly dubbed “Kinucopo Sog Talipunan, Gloliyag Nog Boluman Dinglag” (Subanon for “Embracing the Past, Celebrating the Future”), the camp was participated in by youths from the three Subanon cultural communities of TVI Resource Development Philippines, Inc. (TVIRD) in the Zamboanga Peninsula: Canatuan in Siocon town, and Tamarok in Jose Dalman town, both in Zambonga del Norte; as well as Balabag in Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur.

TVIRD has a gold-silver mine in Canatuan and an advanced exploration project in Balabag. The Company recently received overwhelming approval to conduct exploration activities in Tamarok from Subanon leaders there.

Participants to the 2007 Subanon Summer Youth Camp: a summer to remember.

TVIRD’s Community Relations and Development Office (CReDO) organized the youth camp, which was replete with Subanon-inspired art and cultural workshops: from rattan-weaving on bottles (using uway or rattan strips) and painting, to panggasi-making (native wine of indigenous ingredients) and Subano dancing. Workshop facilitators included renowned local artists Don Gurrea and Vicente Laput, president and vice-president, respectively of the Zamboanga del Norte Federation of Visual Artists, Inc. (ZANFEVAI). Meanwhile, Anabel Combi, president of Siocon Subanon Women Association; and Lydia Dandana, Zenaida Dandana and Susana Davi, all members of the Subanon Council of Elders, shared with their younger kinsfolk their knowledge about their rich culture.

“We initiated the Subanon Summer Youth Camp to help prevent the erosion of their culture among today’s Subanon youths,” Feliece Yeban, TVIRD Vice President for Social Commitment, said. “We hope this activity will help them grow and succeed in this modern world, even as they remain ever mindful of their roots. We also sought to empower them in decision making, to assist in developing their talent in the field of culture and arts, and to boost their self-confidence.”

Youth campers participate in a team building activity at the Canatuan Falls near the mine.

The Balabag youth delegation, led by John Lapar, chairman of Batan-ong Lihok Alang sa Yutang Kabilin (Youth Movement for Ancestral Domain) or BALAY KO (“My Home”), related: “Nindot ang activity nga gipasiugdahan sa TVI(RD). Dinhi, maila-ila namo ang mga kaubang lumad ug makita gayud nga nagkahiusa ug mibarog ang mga kabatan-onan sa ilang katungod. Dako kaayo among pasalamat nga gihatagan sa pagtagad sa TVI(RD) nga masilsil sa among huna-huna ug kasing-kasing ang among kagikan (The activity initiated by TVIRD is very good. Here, we get to meet our fellow IPs and you could really see that we are united and standing up for our rights. We deeply appreciate the fact that TVIRD is giving importance to the need for our roots and culture to be instilled in our hearts and minds).”

TVIRD Operations Metallurgist Shiela Arlenda (in white hat) tells the summer campers how gold and silver are extracted from rocks. “We are very happy that we joined the summer camp for us, Subanos. We learned to love our own culture,” Cheryl Tigon of the Tamarok contingent said during the Solidarity Night on the second day of the three-day event.

“We learned so much from the experience,” Guia dela Fuente of Canatuan added.

The encampment was made more memorable with the inclusion of other activities: mountain trekking to the Canatuan Falls, a Mine Tour, and the planting of 276 Acacia Manguim seedlings within the Canatuan ancestral domain.

Participants listen to TVIRD Junior Safety Engineer Deyn Sandiko (in white hat) as she tours the group at the open pit mine.

Lectures on the Philippine Indigenous Peoples Rights Act, on the Mining Act of 1995, and on Youth Organizing were conducted on the third day. Inspired by what they learned, the Subano youths decided to organize themselves as Subanon Youth Caucus for Responsible Mining. Yeban pledged the Company’s support for the youth group’s activities.

The camp ended with a fitting finale: a Subanon Cultural Night where the participants danced to the beating of drums and gongs – a sight and sound their ancestors would have truly loved. (Rene Patangan)

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