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Enthronement at Natangcopan-Jardin, Kiwalan, Iligan City

ECOWEB Executive Director, Regina Salvador-Antequisa, delivered her inspirational message to the newly enthroned traditional leaders of the Royale House of the Sultanate of Tagoloan last May 25, 2015 at Natangcopan-Jardin, Kiwalan, Iligan City. The Sultanate traced its historical roots from the place with the centuries-old cemetery (noted since 15th century) as proof of their rich historical past. Sultan Macasalong Sarip who officiated the enthronement shared the relevance of Natangcopan to their history and their continued struggle to protect their right over the land their clan is owning. The enthronement is an expression of preservation their tradition while expressing their desire to embrace the opportunities that the current context is bringing in the name of peace and sustainable development.

Wisdom Weaving: Defending Ancestral Domains Through Integrating Indigenous People’s Practices with Philippine Laws

For too long, the traditional decision-making practices of the Indigenous People (IP) have come into direct conflict with the governing laws of the Philippines, especially when it comes to determining their rights with respect to and the use of their lands. Despite much talk of having control over their Ancestral Domain, mining companies and other extractive industries and agribusiness used existing laws to encroach upon and exploit the lands and resources of the Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines, often leading to violent confrontation.

On February 28, 2014, tribal leaders, advocates, government officials and friends from Northwestern Mindanao, Philippines, celebrated a sign of hope upon completing  a two-year Resource-Based Conflict and Peacebuilding Training Program of the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute Foundation, Incorporated (MPI) conducted in partnership withEcosystems Works for Essential Benefits, Inc. (EcoWEB) and Pikhumpongan Dlibon Subanen, Inc. (PDSI). Fifty tribal leaders and advocates, including 26 Subanen and 23 Higaonon men and women leaders gathered together for a graduation ceremony of this two-year program (watch a video of the MPI, EcoWeb, PDSI Training Program above). The Subanen leaders who completed the program came from the Ancestral Domains in Bayog, Kumalarang and Lakewood in Zamboanga del Sur and Sindangan in Zamboanga del Norte.  The Higaonon leaders were from the Ancestral Domains of Bayug Iligan in Lanao del Norte and Dulangan in Misamis Oriental (click here to see a map).

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Mapping their Ancestral Domain

With funding support from the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI), Inc. and the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), the Ecosystems Work for Essential Benefits (EcoWEB) Inc. embarked in facilitating the participatory construction of the 3 dimensional map of the Dulangan Ancestral Domain. The Dulangan Ancestral Domain is constituted by 7 barangays of which five (5) are situated in the municipality of Opol and two (2) in the municipality of Manticao, all in the province of Misamis Oriental. It has an estimated land area of more than 20,000 hectares. EcoWEB, CAFOD and MPI has been in partnership with the Higaonon tribal council and communities of Dulangan in the latter's efforts to acquire their ancestral domain's certificate of title as mandated in the Indigenous People's Rights Act (IPRA).

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Unveiling of 3D Map of Bayug Ancestral Domain

A 3D map of the Bayug, Iligan ancestral domain was unveiled and showed to the pubic at Iligan City plaza. The ancestral domain comprising 31,000 hectares land located in barangays Rogongon, Kalilangan, Panoroganan and Mainit in the hinterlands of Iligan. It is about 40% of the land area of Iligan City and contains valued resources such as forests where sacred, burial and hunting grounds of the Higaonon tribal community, vast agricultural lands (although yet to be fully harnessed), caves, falls, rivers and spring water resources, minerals, among others.

Hosting the remaining big forest area of Iligan, tribal community in the Bayug ancestral domain proved to have very important role in conserving and rehabilitating the forest resources of Iligan that is critical to reduce disaster risks.

Thus, EcoWEB with the IP partners also launched its Save the Forest: Reduce Disaster Risk campaign that aims to mobilize support from everybody. Indeed, some participants and observers of the event started to donate for the campaign that EcoWEB hopes sustain.