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Indigenous Peoples: Their Identity and Skills for Economic Sustainability

MAMANWA

Their Identity, Brief History and Reality

The Mamanwa tribe is the only Indigenous group in Surigao and is the most disadvantaged and seems or nearly extinct. According to the survey, they are the number one in illiteracy among the 110 tribes in the country. They are not more than five thousand in Surigao del Norte living in 15 Mamanwa Communities in the province. They are mostly farmers who view land as their ancestors’ property even if each family tills a parcel of land. They are poor in many aspects yet they are intelligent people given the chance for schooling. Due to their high illiteracy, they are voiceless and easily taken into illegal activities and abuses even among themselves. They become victims of injustice and discrimination among the lowlanders They too are caught between forces: the military and the rebels aside from the group of bandits.

Originally, the Mamanwas live in huts far from each other, due to their way of living: hunting and gathering foods from the forest. However, their once virgin forest as source of their livelihood is depleted due to mining and logging thus, they are experiencing hunger. Much as they wanted to settle down and cultivate their land, continuous encroachment of the lowlanders and investors made them feel insecure in their own territory.

They have traditional leaders and justice system but are also weakened by the influence of the lowlanders and mining companies.

Culturally, the richness of it is still expressed in rituals, dances, and in their spoken dialect. Until this time, there is minimal written document about their culture. One reason is because of illiteracy. There is a fear of loosing their culture because the young generation are very fast

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in assimilating the culture of the lowlanders. Aside from these, their indigenous skills, musical instruments, knowledge and practices are pirated by the outsiders.

 

Ecologically, the forest cover is thinning which causes erosion, floods, and the dramatic changes of the topography of the land. Non IPs took advantage of the bounty of the forest, depriving them of the main source of livelihood, their ancestral domain. They plant bananas and crops like camote, carlang, and other crops which sometimes failed to produce and that they have no choice except to give in to mining and logging companies as cheap labour for their ‘daily fare’.

Skills for Economic Sustainabilty

· Able to weave baskets and mats.

· Can produce abaca from the forest.

· Able to plant root crops together as a community and able to harvest enough for the whole year round.

· Very good in hunting wild animals like pig, deer, rats, and wild cats and can gather vegetables and fruits from the forest.

· Carry heavy logs / woods in a long distance walk just to get an amount of money as a source for living..

· Initiative and creative in searching to fulfil their physical needs especially in getting foods.

Services of the Sisters

The IP Apostolate of the Diocese of Surigao considers it foremost to help them in their development with priorities like education and livelihood. The Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit(SSpS) were tasked to carry this ministry four (7) years ago. With the help of mission funds and funding agencies funded the projects which include Literacy and Numeracy for children and adults, sending pupils and students in formal school, providing assistance and guidance to the formal school students who stay in the dormitory, sustainable agriculture training for adults, medical assistance which limit only in the pilot communities. Feeding programs to the malnourished children in various IP communities. Formation of Youth and Women.

Links and collaboration with other organization

· The Episcopal Commission on Indigenous Peoples (ECIP-National office and regional (ECIP-Mindanao)

· Assisi Development Foundation (ADF) help in the seminars of IPA workers and para-teachers.

· Collaboration with the Local Government Unit (LGUs) to counterpart in building construction.

· The HAPAG ASA who provides sacks of rice for feeding program every class days.

· The Parish in each municipality may also extent their services in terms of food assistance (limited).