New genesis for a Manobo-Pulanguihon community

A fresh beginning is up for the Manobo Pulanguihon community members organized under the Tribal Indigenous Oppressed Group Association (TINDOGA) with the launching of the initiative entitled, ‘Project New Genesis.’

The project, initiated by the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao Sub-Region (RMP-NMR) and supported by the Catholic Mission Australia (CMA), seeks to support the socio-economic rehabilitation of the members of TINDOGA in their reclaimed ancestral lands in Butong, Quezon, Bukidnon.

Composed of 107 families, TINDOGA members’ access to food is expected to improve and their income increased through the installation of a communal farm and a poultry, goat and swine-raising ventures under the initiative.

“Our collective dream to implement our own development plan for our ancestral domain is now gradually being realized,” said community leader Datu Santiano Agdahan.

After a long campaign and legal assertion of their right to ancestral domain, 423 hectares of the disputed land was awarded to them by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples through the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) number R10-QUE-0712-159.

However, their domain continues to be locked in a web of land dispute. A landlord, a known pineapple contract grower, refuses to loosen his grip on the land by demanding a leaseback after the title was awarded. Members of TINDOGA refused the scheme. Since then, the community has been put through attacks and harassments from the landlord’s guards.  In their struggle, they have lost not only some of their meager properties but also lives of their kin. Only recently, the secretary general of TINDOGA, Renato Anglao, was shot dead on his way home by goons the community suspects were hired by the landlord.

Despite all they are being subjected to, the community is persistent in establishing their lives as a people in their reclaimed territory. “The project is very timely as we are proving that our community can survive without having to give up our lands,” said Datu Santiano. “We can make this small piece of domain productive, and at the same retain our identity as a people – a Lumad people whose lives are still one with our land.”

The project also includes health trainings for women to address community health issues, and literacy and numeracy sessions for children who were forced to stop schooling because of recurrent displacement and poverty. Beadworks and traditional dressmaking businesses are also foreseen to improve the income of community members with disability.

CMA is an agency of the International Pontifical Mission Societies in Australia. Locally and globally, Catholic Mission answers the call to love God and love our neighbor, and work to establish the Reign of God through building communities of missionary disciples of Jesus Christ who share their faith by proclaiming the Word, serving people in need, acting for justice and creation, and adopting child-focused development programs.

Project New Genesis forms part of the 4-year jointly-agreed framework partnership agreement between CMA and RMP-NMR that will end in January 2019. Under the said agreement, the two organizations are to engage together in a range of activities, including but not limited to partnership development, program management, financial management, capacity building, advocacy, formation, and fund-raising.

In 2015, CMA also funded RMP-NMR’s rehabilitation initiative for the farmers of Mayorga, Leyte affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

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