Posted by: austronesia | December 29, 2008

In Workshop, Benguet Pupils Learn Pride in Cultural Identity

In Workshop, Benguet Pupils Learn Pride in Cultural Identity
PUBLISHED ON September 16, 2008 AT 5:08 PM

“They may be young but they are capable of recognizing the value of their culture this early so as to preserve and take pride in their identity as indigenous peoples,” said Sammy Pulido,  cultural training coordinator.

Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 32, September 14-20, 2008

TUBA, BENGUET — “They may be young but they are capable of recognizing the value of their culture this early so as to preserve and take pride in their identity as indigenous peoples,” said Sammy Pulido,  cultural training coordinator.

Kabuyao Elementary School (KES) and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts graduated 18 out of more than 50 interested elementary pupils chosen as trainees at the School for Living Traditions on Kankanaey Performing Arts, a 36-day intensive training set for children to learn more of the culture and traditions of their ancestors.

Barangay Kagawad (village councilman) Felix Siplat, one of five community elders who helped teach the children clarified that the community is now a mixture of the original Ibaloi residents, Kankanaey settlers from central and north Benguet; Kalanguyas from the boundary of Ifugao and Benguet; and Ilocanos.

“Inter-marriages have resulted in mestizos among our children,” Siplat said adding that his children resulted from a Kankanaey-Ibaloi union.  Although the training was for Kankanaey performing arts, this could not be divorced from Ibaloi practices.

Siplat saw to it that he interpreted native terms in both Kankanaey and Ibaloi languages. He also annotated the presentations seeing to it that he incorporated the dominant cultures of the co-existing Cordillera tribes.

The training, administered by both teachers and elders of Sitio (sub-village) Kabuyao in Poblacion, Tuba ran from May 28 to Sept. 10. Among the elders who acted as cultural trainers are Bairo Patalek, Wangkay Billit, Joseph Tayabes, Kagawad Felix Siplat, and Delia Pakipak.

Beyond music and dance, a way of life

In a closing and recognition program for the first part of the four-phase training, which may run for four consecutive years, one of the trainees said they learned about discipline, cooperation, humility, patience and assertion besides having been introduced to traditional music and dances.

“Nasuruanak ti saan a panagbabain babaen iti rehearsals” (I learned not to be shy through the rehearsals), proclaimed 10-year-old Maryrose Domingo, also a trainee.

“Naadalak a no adda ti aramiden ti grupo, madi ti agpa-importante” (I learned that when the group does one activity, it is not good for anyone to waste other people’s time waiting), added 9-year-old Luzviminda Litawen. She also said she was reminded that before young people would make a decision, they had to consult their elders.

In the program, Litawen portrayed the role of a young woman who consulted her aunts when she had to choose from three young men who all wanted to marry her.

KES Teacher-in-charge Edgar Vicente looked forward to replicating the training for all children in Kabuyao. He observed that during the trainings and rehearsals, many pupils showed interest and they had been indirect beneficiaries of the training program.

“It is a community endeavor,” he said as he acknowledged the role of parents and elders in transferring to the youth the values and good aspects of the indigenous culture.


Vicente realized through the training that culture is something that children learn simultaneously.  As the boys play the tallak, solibao, takik, pinsak and gangza, the girls learn to dance to the rhythm.

“Any wrong note or timing makes the whole thing a disaster,” Vicente said.

Cony Dangpa-Subagan, one of the project implementers, added that values are incorporated in the workshops, where children learn to work with a group and move as one.

In their highest performance level, the children acted as naturally as possible as they portrayed adult roles like that of a native priest (mansip-ok in the Ibaloi and Kankanaey languages), or community elders or the mananakem, men and women who are carriers of wisdom and are therefore consulted.  


Benguet Gov. Nestor Fongwan, Tuba Mayor Florencio Bentrez, local education and elected officials were among those who have extended support and appreciation to the efforts at preserving the indigenous culture by teaching boys and girls.

Fongwan recalled an anecdote when as a young pupil he had to miss classes due to an ailment, which doctors could not heal. “If I only knew then, I should have consulted a mansip-ok so I did not have to miss school,” he told the audience.

NCCA provided P50,000 ($1,067.81 at the Sept. 12 exchange rate of $1:P46.86) for the first phase and is set to extend some P500,000 ($10,670.08) more for the next three phases, according to Vicente. Northern Dispatch / Posted by Bulatlat

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Posted by: austronesia | December 29, 2008

Mabtad as Told by a Kalinga Warrior

Mabtad as Told by a Kalinga Warrior
PUBLISHED ON December 20, 2008 AT 4:30 PM   

In his uggayam, or traditional chant, Ama Julio Longan, 68, of the Taloctoc sub-tribe of Kalinga urged his audience in a human rights rally to join mabtad, where Cordillera communities and groups are urged to collectively act in searching for James Balao, an activist missing since September 17.

Northern Dispatch
Posted by Bulatlat

BAGUIO CITY (246 kms. north of Manila) – In his uggayam, or traditional chant, Ama Julio Longan, 68, of the Taloctoc sub-tribe of Kalinga urged his audience in a human rights rally to join mabtad, where Cordillera communities and groups are urged to collectively act in searching for James Balao, an activist missing since September 17.

Mabtad is a traditional call and practice in Kalinga and Mountain Province, particularly in binodngan or bodong (peace pact) practicing areas. Members of communities are mobilized during calamities or in times of dire need – whether it is due to man made acts or natural ones, explained Longan, a veteran of restoring broken peace pacts in Kalinga.

“If a community member who went to hunt failed to return, mabtad is used to call the people to look for the missing person. The same when someone is allegedly taken by their enemy tribe, the able-bodied men in the community are called to conduct war with their enemy,” he explained in Ilocano.

Mabtad is characterized by sadness. Hence in the gathering, gongs, which reflect happiness, are not used. Instead, people used kalasag (shields), pakipak (bamboo instruments), and gayang (spear) in producing sounds, Longan pointed out.

Mabtad is being adopted in the case of James Balao, whose mother hails from Mountain Province, he said. It is not only in the case of Balao, a founding member of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), that mabtad was used.

Earlier in October 1987, Ama Daniel Ngayaan, of Tanglag was abducted by members of the late Conrado Balweg’s Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA), a para-military group, at the Cagaluan Gate in Lubuagan, related Ama Longan.

Ngayaan’s tribe mates, members of the peace pact holders’ organization Cordillera Bodong Association (CBA), and the CPA were called for a mabtad, to look for Ngayaan, then CBA chairman and CPA vice-chairperson.

“We went to look for Ngayaan in different places, including forests, rivers, military camps, among others,” explained Longan, present president of the Cordillera Elders Association (CEA).

The family of Ngayaan filed a habeas corpus petition, a legal remedy filed with the court to ask it to order the person or group holding him to produce his person. The petition was filed after Balweg admitted in an interview that his group abducted Ngayaan. The court however denied the said petition.

Balao’s family and friends filed a petition for a writ of amparo to compel the military to resurface the abducted Balao. The writ of amparo has been adopted by the Supreme Court to compel a person or entity to produce a missing person, and if the person is not in their custody, to exert efforts to seek information on the whereabouts of the missing person.

The Regional Trial Court of Benguet is expected to issue its decision on the Balao family’s petition for a writ of amparo. Balao’s case is the first writ of amparo filed in the region.

Unselfish indigenous rights advocate

Longan said he knew James since the time they were lobbying for the inclusion of indigenous peoples’ rights in the 1987 Constitution, which was then being drafted by members of a Constitutional Commission appointed by President Corazon Aquino in 1986.

“He was a staff of Commissioner Ponciano Bennagen, who was endorsed by indigenous peoples,” Longan added.

Longan said Balao, who was already a staff of the CPA then, helped Bennagen in introducing provisions in the 1987 Constitution that recognizes indigenous peoples’ rights to their culture, tradition and ancestral lands. He clarified though that those were outputs of indigenous peoples’ and their technical know-how.

Under Section 22, Article II of the 1987 Constitution, the State is mandated to recognize and promote the rights of indigenous cultural communities while Section 1, Article X mandates the creation of autonomous regions in Muslim Mindanao and the Cordilleras.

Longan claimed that these provisions on indigenous peoples were not at all included in past constitutions.

“Here is an unselfish person who served the people without expecting anything in return. It is high time for us to pay in return by joining the mabtad,” Longan said.

His uggayam reverberates: “Uggayam, o gayaman, bareng no maawatan, turay a kadakdaksan, tapno miruar ida no ayanat nangipupukan, ta saan met a masida wenno makan (I hope it will be understood, by this worst administration, to tell us where they had imprisoned (James), as he (James) is not a viand or a food.) Northern Dispatch/ Posted

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‘Philippine Gov’t Lacks Political Will to Solve Human Rights Problems’
PUBLISHED ON December 20, 2008 AT 3:02 PM  


An independent regional non-government organization said the Philippine government lacks the political will to solve the human rights problems of the country.

In its report on the Philippines, the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) said, “Many of the human rights problems facing the Philippines are well-known. At the heart of the problem is a lack of political will to implement solutions to problems, even though there are many recommendations about how to bring about these solutions.”

The AHRC cited the recommendations by members of the United Nations Human Rights Committee through the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The Philippines was subjected to the UPR process in April this year. Among the recommendations accepted by the Philippine government are: to carry out investigations and prosecutions on extrajudicial killings and punish those responsible, to strengthen the witness protection program, and to address the root causes of this issue. The government was also urged to take into account the recommendations of United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Prof. Philip Alston.

Alston visited the Philippines in February 2007 to investigate cases of extrajudicial killings. Among his recommendations are: that extrajudicial executions be eliminated from counterinsurgency operations; that the principle of command responsibility be ensured as basis for criminal liability to prosecute military officers; and, that the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG) be abolished.

The AHRC noted that the UPR’s outcome also reaffirmed the findings of the Melo Commission. The Melo Commission was created by the President in 2007 in response to local and international pressures to put a stop to media and activist killings. The Commission called on the government to investigate complaints of killings against the military.

In 2007, the AHRC described as urgent the recommendations of the Melo Commission and Alston. The group noted, “However, one year later, the lack of progress illustrates the government’s inability and unwillingness to implement them.”

The group said further, “While there has been a welcome drop in the number of killings, there have been no effective prosecutions of those responsible, who continue to enjoy impunity, threatening the enjoyment of human rights at present and in the future.”

The AHRC recommended the creation of an independent mechanism to monitor and evaluate the actual implementation of the recommendations made by the concerned international and local agencies.

Writ of amparo

While the AHRC welcomed the Supreme Court’s adoption of the writ of amparo and the writ of habeas data, the group noted that there have been strong reservations as to how judges are dealing with petitions. The group said, “…They [judges] are ignoring the fact that these writs are designed to provide urgent relief and not lead to exhaustive and lengthy procedures before decisions are issued. These are tools designed to protect the lives and security of persons.

The AHRC lamented that five petitions for writs have been rejected on the premise that the petitioners have failed to produce clear evidence of apparent or visible threats to their lives in recent times. “The courts’ decisions have run contrary to the writ’s intent as they cast the burden of proof concerning threats on the complainants,” it said.

Arming civilians

The AHRC also expressed alarm over the ‘re-emergence and strengthening of the government’s long-standing policy of arming civilians.’ The group cited the creation of the Police Auxiliaries (PAX) by the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The AHRC said, “The policy to arm civilians has given legitimacy to vigilantism and exposed civilians to greater risk of being caught in the armed conflict.” It said that vigilante groups reign in General Santos and Davao in Mindanao and Cebu in Visayas.

The group called on the government to abandon its policy of arming civilians and to disband the Citizens Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU), Civilian Volunteer Organization (CVO) and the Police Auxiliaries (PAX). “The continued existence and operations of these armed militias have already obscured the notion of state responsibility, permitting abuses of authority and rights while enabling impunity,” the AHRC deemed.

Domestic laws

The AHRC also called for the enactment of proposed laws regarding the criminalization of torture and enforced disappearance.

The group also said that no legislation concerning the principle of command responsibility with respect to extrajudicial killings has been enacted. The principle of command responsibility holds the higher ranking government official, military or otherwise, liable if he or she encourages, incites, tolerates or ignores any extrajudicial killing committed by a subordinate.
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Posted by: austronesia | December 29, 2008

Movie Review: Noho Hewa

Hawaiian wake-up call

By T. Ilihia Gionson / Ka Wai Ola

You know that feeling that you get in your na’au when you drive past ‘Iolani Palace or when you hear Kaulana Nā Pua? That chicken-skin feeling that comes over you and lets you know that your kūpuna have been disturbed? That intrinsic sense that wrong has been done?

Noho Hewa: The Wrongful Occupation of Hawai’i captures that feeling on film.

Story photo

The film – the first feature-length project by filmmaker Anne Ke’ala Kelly – opens with a kanikau, or chant of mourning, after a fire sparked by Army munitions destroyed sacred sites and habitat for endangered species in Mākua Valley, O’ahu. The dirge sets the tone for the next 70 minutes, a stark reminder of the continual desecration of Hawaiian land and displacement of Native Hawaiians in the homeland. Auwē.

Five years ago, Noho Hewa began as a project looking at the militarization of Hawai’i. “But as a Hawaiian, I don’t look at anything as separate issues. Our collective issues are one narrative,” said Kelly, whose film premiered at this year’s Louis Vuitton Hawai’i International Film Festival and won the Halekūlani Golden Orchid Award for documentary feature.

Complete with interviews of noted Hawaiian scholars and activists and footage of various gatherings, arrests, protests and evictions, Noho Hewa touches upon military training on sacred grounds, the displacement of iwi kūpuna in the name of development, the fight for self-determination, homelessness and other symptoms of the imposition of foreign desires on native lands and people.

Noho Hewa is, depending on your awareness of the struggles facing our lāhui, either a crash course in modern Hawaiian history or a wake-up call to take action.

It’s a step in the right direction that more people are being exposed to the issues facing our people and our ‘āina. The more people know about something hewa, the less likely it is to happen again. Not without a fight, anyway.

As for me, I blasted Sudden Rush as soon as I got into the car. Kū’ē! Technorati Tags: , ,

Posted by: austronesia | December 29, 2008

Tongan pro-democracy movement slams intervention

Tongan pro-democracy movement slams intervention

November 19 2006
ABC News

The leaders of Tonga’s pro-democracy movement have condemned the intervention of Australian and New Zealand soldiers and police officers in the strife-torn Pacific island kingdom.

About 150 Australian and New Zealand peacekeepers arrived late yesterday to enforce martial law on the streets of the capital Nuku’alofa, after rioting on Thursday left eight people dead.

The movement says the intervention is further proof of the failure of Prime Minister Fred Sevele and his largely non-elected Government.

Pro-democracy movement MP Akilisi Pohiva says the Government failed to heed the warning signs of frustration among the people of Tonga, and its security apparatus failed to ensure law and order when trouble started on the streets of Nuku’alofa.

Mr Pohiva says the death and destruction caused during the riots is a regrettable part of the process of democratic change that is now sweeping the country.

He and his supporters have called on the King to dissolve Parliament and appoint an interim administration comprising the heads of government departments pending fresh fully democratic elections.

The civil unrest comes just two months after the generally unpopular Prince succeeded his father, King Taufa’ahau Tupou, as ruler of the Pacific’s last kingdom.

Quick withdrawal

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer says he hopes Australia will be able to withdraw its forces from Tonga soon.

He has told the ABC TV’s Insiders program the situation in Tonga has been quiet since the riots.

“We have around 50 Australian Defence Force personnel and 34 police there assisting with security,” he said.

“The New Zealanders have around 60 defence personnel and police so we judge that is an adequate number to keep the situation quiet and hopefully there won’t be any more problems.”

The parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs, Teresa Gambaro, says Australians in Tonga are being warned to stay indoors and avoid volatile situations.

Special flight

Ms Gambaro says a special flight has been arranged this afternoon for expatriates who want to leave.

“I can’t confirm how many people want to leave, but [a flight is] scheduled to leave today, and we’ll see what the demand for that is,” she said.

“We can’t guarantee to get everyone out that wants to leave, but we’re doing our very best.”

Tongan resident Anna Malolo says the country’s recovery will be slow because the main business centre of the Pacific nation has been destroyed.

“I think the future of Tonga will be a very slow economic one, because all the big supermarkets and hotels and … everything has been burned down,” she said.

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