Dann & Joji (adopted members of the Talaandig Tribe), Dr. Maria Luisa Soliven (CMU President), Bae Liza and Datu Saway (Talaandig Spiritual Leaders) pose for a reconciliation photo. Both parties have a clear vision of where this long-term conflict-transformation process is going — peace, reconciliation, and development. (Photo courtesy: Salome Haldemann)

The conflict is about 3,000 hectares of rich, arable land around Mount Kalayo in the Province of Bukidnon. The parties are the Central Mindanao University (CMU) and the Talaandig Tribe.

CMU firmly takes the position that they legally own the land based on Torrens Title. The Talaandig Council of Elders insists they own the land as part of their ancestral domain based on Native Title. It’s a clash between colonial and native views of land ownership.

For the past 50 years, these two parties have been fighting over this land—through both legal and violent means. 35 people were killed during those years of conflict. 25 of them were from the Talaandig Tribe. 10 were from the migrants who fought for the University. Both parties deny responsibility for the killings. Both parties blame the other side for deaths of people from among their respective ranks.

Three months ago, a group of scientists and researchers from CMU entered Mount Kitanglad to study certain plants for medicinal purposes. The Cultural Guards of the Talaandig Tribe patrolling the forests arrested the researchers who entered the tribal territory without permission from the tribal council. Past issues and deep wounds immediately re-surfaced.

Meanwhile, the Bukidnon Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Team have been working with the Talaandig Tribe for the past five years in the areas of peacebuilding, cross-cultural understanding, coffee growing, and fair trade. The same PAR Team is one among various organizations working with CMU in developing an academic program to train social entrepreneurs in the context of building just-peace in Mindanao.

Both the Talaandig Tribe and CMU invited our Bukidnon PAR Team to facilitate a conflict transformation process between them. Both parties have a clear vision of where this long-term process is going. Reconciliation.


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