Ang Tagbanwa


A Tribute: One Man Cut Above The Rest

Posted by tagbanwa on January 21, 2009 at 1:27 AM

         He looked especially ordinary on his camiso de chino and slacks. His hair, combed neatly like a ‘70s hippie, was white with streaks of grey. Sitting cross-legged on his favorite chair, he looked like a transcendental mogul deciding on the fate of the world. He was a refined, well-mannered man who started his career as a teacher during the American invasion of the country. A gadabout, he frequented a lot of places during his hunting expeditions. With his salary, he started buying cattles and put up his ranch when everyone else was gnawing in hunger. He was short of stature, but he was a sharp and astute leader. He was brilliant, decisive and outgoing. A womanizer during his early days, he earned a reputation for himself. Love and the glory of youth- he lived that with such passion. I remembered him to be a man who would bathe three to 4 times in a day- Whew! spiffy guy. A lot of people would visit his house asking for advice, for money, for food and for his attendance. He was a man of few words, a man who plans things carefully and works through it with temerity. It was told that he feared nothing, stood by his principles and a strong advocate of the Tagbanwa culture. Under his rule, the Tagbanwa tribe had their identity. He stood by the Tagbanwa through thick and thin. Sacrificing so much for the tribe, he wished, while dying on his bed, for his sons to take care of the tribe. Nothing was as important as seeing his tribe survive the centuries to come. I grew up in his castle, ate on his lavish parties and saw how vast his kingdom was. The irony of that is I barely know him. Yet, if he still walks this earth today, I am sure that he will hold the Tagbanwa culture and traditions, the “adat”, more dearly and strongly in his heart.
      Masicampo Ignacio “Am Pun” Joya, that is his name. He was one of the great Masicampos who ever lived and ruled the Tagbanwa tribe of Palawan. It is an honor for me to have a grandfather like him. Nothing fills me more with pride. I am proud of being a Tagbanwa.

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12:06 PM on October 16, 2009 

Bachelor of Science in Environmental Management
Western Philippines University

A famous philosopher once posited that the only thing permanent is change. Indeed, with the wheels of time turning, this constant flow of change has created a significant impact in the lives of every human being. It did not spare anyone from its grasp including the Indigenous People of this humble country.
Change is one issue that somehow stunned the once isolated and dormant sector of the Philippines- the Indigenous People. This change is multi-faceted in nature affecting every dimension of the so-called ?tribo?. Yet, one thing is very clear, this change is inevitable and a subsequent response is required for the members of the tribe to survive. One aspect of change is brought about by the evolution of technology. Nowadays, an indigent person is most likely to hold a mobile phone as much as his non-indigent counterparts. You can see, not one, but a multitude of people displaying a variety of the trendiest mobile phone money can buy these days- Nokia, Samsung and sleek PDA?s. This has changed the way indigenous people interact with the members of the society. Clearly, the ?tribo? has somehow ?arrived? and adapted to this change. Another example that can be cited is the predominant use of the Internet nowadays. Eons ago, the members of the ?tribo? were stereotyped into beings totally devoid of technical knowledge, ignorant and ?wild?. Often, you would hear people saying, ? Ay! Tiga-bundok yan. Walang alam.? Translated :( Oh! An ignorant man from the mountain). With the passage of time, the ?tribo? can be seen surfing the Internet in conspicuous cafes and coffee shops amongst his peers. The ?tribo? conquered the Web and emerged a victor time and again. Aside from technology, the Indigenous People has been assailed by emerging political systems in the province of Palawan. The ?tribo? is no longer viewed as a passive spectator of the political arena, but a force to be reckoned with. Members of the local tribe rose to positions that effect major changes not only in the local community but province-wide. In retrospective, the people who were once on the sides are now brushing elbows with the powers-that-be. They are no longer looked down and underestimated but cajoled to get political favors from. Those who won seats in the local arena spun a web of change too complicated for a political fledgling to decipher. The once ruled now started to rule the society. They are vehicles and authors of change.
The change brought by the new era is larger than life with the economic aspect taking a toll on the Indigenous People. Poverty is a disease that has plagued Third-World countries and its bloody hands reached far-flung societies including the ?tribo?. It is an issue that cannot be taken for granted or lightly because it altered the face of the Indigenous People?s culture and beliefs. In lieu with this, the ?tribo? is not spared from the lurking evil head of poverty and its sisters, hunger and greed. One case that is related and imminent is the proliferation of mining companies in Palawan. The offer of a good life, however temporary and surreal it may seem, blinded the members of the ?tribo?. In exchange for a few bucks and a heap of rice, the ?tribo? affixes their signature on the so-called ?agreement?- a word too deep to fathom for the common man himself. As they enjoy their short-lived pleasure, the ?tribo? watches from afar even as their domain is being devoured and raped by guiltless denizens. As they cook the last cup of ?goodwill rice? and puffed the last stick of cheap cigar, the reality dawns on them that they lost not only their lands but also their lives. This is the typical example of somebody selling his soul to the devil- the Faust that is the ?tribo?. Traditions are lost slowly but on a daily basis. Dignities are shattered like a mirror to smithereens. The Indigenous People carries on with a burden so heavy it breaks their back with every day. It is like cancer eating through the deepest core of their humanity. The ?tribo? fettered by poverty and shackled by hunger and greed counts the remaining days of their lives. They bite their tongues, grind their teeth and shed bloody tears yearning for a glimpse of hope. The question that lingers is, ?Is there hope??. Can there be a balm in Gilead for this present malady? Every ?tribo? clamors for an answer. Today is the day when change becomes a necessity. This is one change that the ?tribo? needs to claim victory over with. The ?tribo? hopes for the constancy of change. They hope for change that will save them from a sure demise. A change that will tip the balance on their side. Is there hope? The answer is eluding, but change is inevitable. The ?tribo? will stand waiting.
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