12-13 October 2019, Talaandig Ancestral Territory — It was a blessing to be a participant in a series of Talaandig rituals, a gathering together as a people before the Creator for worship. It was a time to ask for the Creator’s mercy, grace, forgiveness, and blessings to the people and to the land. It was a time to affirm, as one people, the harmonious relationship between the Creator, the people, and the whole creation — wherein the spiritual and the physical realities interplay in the same realm.
The highlight of our participation was Naming and Baptism Ritual. I’m so grateful to my Brother, Datu Migketay Saway, who took time to explain to me the meaning of the segments of the celebration. During the breakfast before the mid-morning ceremony, Datu Saway graciously shared with my team the meaning of the said ritual.
In my humble and beginner’s understanding, their worldview starts with the Creator who created all that exists. In this reality, the spiritual and the physical interplay in the same realm. The Creator also assigned spiritual stewards of various territories and elements in this spiritual-physical reality. This is the reality-context where the newly-named and baptized member of the tribe will live her or his life.
The tribal community, through baptism, prepares the members of the tribe for the spiritual-physical dynamics and experiences she or he will encounter in this world. The naming, using native character-describing names, provides and seals the identity of the person, equipping the member of the tribe to avoid identity crises she or he would face through life.
We are thankful to the Creator for this opportunity to understand our Talaandig kins. By allowing us to understand their worldview, their value system, and their customary practices, we feel embraced and deeply received by these indigenous sisters and brothers.
There’s a very special, unforgettable moment that I truly appreciate while enjoying this series of activities. During the first day of this indigenous celebration, a visiting tribal leader jokingly referred to our teams at PeaceBuilders Community and Coffee for Peace as “PBCI-CFP Tribe” and we love it!
I told her I’ll take that suggestion with respect, honor, and gratitude. Now, I always refer to us as “PBCI-CFP Tribe.”
P.S. I’m writing this primarily for my fellow Christians. Let us listen to the worldview, value systems, and customary practices of the various Indigenous Peoples in our land. Let’s listen with open hearts and minds, not with condescending attitudes, but with love and respect. Listening with open hearts and minds is the first act of love. A love-energized listening heart and mind would help us see the Creator-given wisdom of the Indigenous Peoples. Their wisdom would help us see how they seek, in a very deep sense, a life that is in harmony with the Creator, with their being, with their community and larger circle of fellow human beings, and with the creation.