Tribes folk call on ancestors’ spirits for help vs logging firm

LANUZA, Surigao del Sur—The Mamanwa and Manobo tribes in Surigao del Sur are leaving no stones unturned in an effort to stop a logging company from cutting trees in their ancestral domain.

The tribes have petitioned the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and even performed rituals to “awaken” the spirits of their ancestors and God to stop the encroachment on their ancestral lands.

Datu Bidao, the Manobo tribe’s chieftain and babaylan (spiritual leader/high priest) recently performed the “pangapog,” a ritual asking the spirits of their ancestors and Magbabaya (God) to curse those who are logging in their lands.

Bidao strongly believes that Magbabaya and their ancestors will intervene on their behalf.

Following the ritual, it was reported that a member of the tribe who helped the loggers in exchange for a job identified as Ronnie Montenegro, was hit by a falling tree branch that pierced his back through the right side of his body.

Last December, after hearing of the application for an Integrated Forest Management Agreement (IFMA), the tribe performed another ritual asking the spirits to lead them what to do.

In that ritual, the tribe slaughtered a pig to offer to the spirits and Magbabaya.

“The pig did not bleed. Not even a single drop of blood from the bolo, which was bloodied, was seen. God’s and the spirits’ message is clear.
They don’t want the cutting of trees on our ancestral lands,” Bidao said in the native dialect.

This same phenomenon also happened to Montenegro, he added: “There was also no blood that gushed from his wound.”

Last week hundreds of members of Kahugpongan sa Tribung Mamanwa—Manobo (Katrimma) trooped to the NCIP provincial office in Tandag and even barricaded the headquarters of the Ventura Timber Corporation (VTC) in Barangay Sibahay, this municipality and demanded the immediate stoppage of the logging operation.  Bong D. Fabe


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