education in the Philippines

Bukidnon tribe builds school to preserve way of life

Froilan Gallardo
Bukidnon tribe builds school to preserve way of life

TRIBAL DANCE. Talaandig children perform during the Talaandig Day in Songco, Lantapan town, Bukidnon on Friday, October 14.

Froilan Gallardo/Rappler

Talaandig elders are faced with the challenge of preserving and promoting their customs, beliefs, and practices which are threatened by modernization. They found one way to do it. 

BUKIDNON, Philippines – Talaandig elders sat on the sidelines and watched as their young performed a tribal dance and played instruments at the foot of the majestic Mount Kitanglad in Lantapan town in Bukidnon.

The gathering was on the occasion of Talaandig Day in Bukidnon on Friday, October 14, to celebrate the rich history, culture, and tradition of one of Bukidnon province’s several tribes.

They gathered at the School of Indigenous Living Traditions in the village of Songco, which opened on Friday to impart the tribal group’s tradition, culture, and history to young Talaandigs.

TRIBAL SCHOOL. The Talaandig tribe’s School of Living Traditions opens to the public during the Talaandig Day in Songco, Lantapan town, Bukidnon on Friday, October 14.

Aduna Llesis Saway, who is overseeing the project, said the school was built to teach Talaandig children as young as five years about their culture and history before they start their formal education, and help families who cannot afford to send their children to grade school.

The Talaandig people are one of 110 groups of indigenous peoples in the country, and one of Bukidnon’s seven tribes who live around the Kitanglad Mountain Range.

The mountain range, a government-protected area, has one of the highest mountains in the country – Mount Dulang-Dulang, or simply Mount Kitanglad – which stands at more than 9,600 feet.

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) said there are at least 100,000 Talaandigs, mostly living in Northern Mindanao.

Like the Higaonons, Bukidnons, Umayamnons, Matigsalugs, Manobos, and Tigwahanons, the Talaandigs have seen modernization and technology threatening their way of life.

The Talaandig elders are faced with the challenge of preserving and promoting their customs, beliefs, and practices. 

“We have found a way of handing down our traditional way of life to our children,” Saway said.

At the newly-opened Talaandig school, children would be taught how to play indigenous musical instruments such as drums, and tribal dance for starters.

The group received support from Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, a former Bukidnon congressman whose family established a political bailiwick in the landlocked province.

Saway said it was Zubiri who gave their tribe a P5-million fund for the construction of the two-story building in the Talaandig village of Songco.

The Lantapan town government also provided support for the Talaandig group, taking care of funds so the school could hire its first teachers for the children.

“This is a space for the Talaandig tribe to learn our culture, history, our poems, and art,” Saway said. – Rappler.com

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