March 8, 2017 is the celebration of the International Women’s Day. This is to commemorate the struggle for women’s rights and celebrate the political, social, economic and cultural achievement of women throughout history.
Today, I’m also in a celebration of love, joy, peace, unity and renewal of commitment. I’m here at the Ancestral Territories of the Talaandig Tribe, with other tribal representatives from all over Mindanao. We are celebrating the Fifth Reaffirmation of Moro-IP and Settlers Kinship. This years’ celebration highlighted the “Pamalas” — a blessing of IP and Settlers marriage bond as an expanded effort to attain peace and solidarity among the tri-people in Mindanao; this matrimony between a member of Talaandig tribe and a Settler will serve as a living covenant of peace.
This event is a celebration of living-in-harmony with others and the continuing effort to achieve genuine peace in Mindanao.
Being part of this yearly celebration is an eye opener for me, as one among young generation, to really understand the true meaning of having a good relationship with Mindanao’s Tri-People. It is also a way of looking back at the history of our ancestors and for me to feel and be proud of being a member of an Indigenous People. It is an opportunity also to appreciate the effort of groups who really work in achieving genuine peace and making it into reality.
This kinship affirmation also helps me understand deeper the efforts of June and Clay Rojo, the PeaceBuilders Community, Inc. (PBCI) staff in Bukidnon. This PBCI team has been working with the Talaandig tribe to attain sustainable community development. The tribal community was able to produce quality coffee with the help of Kapeyapaan, the local name of Coffee for Peace, Inc. The local distributor of the Talaandig Coffee is done through Sir Clay’s Café. You guessed it right! This is owned by, and named after, Clay Rojo.
“Strengthening the relationship and having a deeper connection with the tribe are two of our strengths in working with the Talaandig people as they appreciate how sincere we are in partnering with them,” June said. The Rojos have been working among the Talaandig tribe for the past 7 years. “I am happy,” June continues, “that we are now 75% of our vision with them. The challenge is now for us, to help them realize and own their achievements in producing quality coffee”.
Indeed, my Bukidnon trip has been a wonderful learning experience! It boosted me to dream more for my own tribe — the Erumanen ne Menuvu — and to encourage other tribes to preserve and protect their culture.
I am happy to meet new friends from different organizations who are also working and dreaming for a sustainable peace and development in Mindanao.