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The Municipality of San Vicente celebrated the Indigenous People’s Month last October 30 and 31, dubbed as “Tarabidan Ong Banwa,” an Agutaynen word for “get together in the town.”
It aims to unite three major tribes—-Agutaynen, Cuyunon and Tagbanua or Tandulanen—-in a two-day event.
The program opened with a symbolic Tiki torch parade headed by San Vicente Mayor Amy Roa Alvarez and all the tribal chieftains of the three tribes.
They marched in a group bearing a burning torch that signifies their intention to be one that evening. It was followed by a boodle-fight session and a cultural show showcasing different dances and songs of the participating tribes.
The second day was full of fun-filled activities as the three tribes competed in different traditional games such as Kadang-Kadang and Lakad sa Bao, which were done in the middle of a muddy arena due to the fact that San Vicente is known for Malagnang (mud) Festival, the annual biggest festivity of the town honouring their rich soil. Craftsmanship contests were also held like Pawid-making.
“Itong event na to para sa aming mga Agutaynen ay importante, kasi parang reconcillation po, masaya kami na nandito sila, sobrang saya at nakakataba ng puso, kasi dati rin kaming magkakaibigan na mga tribu, sana mawala yung mga nabuong sama ng loob at simulan namin dito,” Pinky Leido Evio-Dela Cruz of Agutyanen Tribe said.
Preparing for “Tarabidan Ong Banwa” took only two weeks.
Mayor Alvarez is looking forward in making it a big and grand event in the coming years.
“This is a momentous occasion, I want to revive culture here, I’ve been in Palawan for few years, and now I am living here in San Vicente permanently and there are four tribes pala here, and that’s amazing, I want to revive this and keep the culture alive, I even plan actually for the tourist to come and see them, I want to even build a sort of tribal village for them to visit, that’s actually my plan,” Alvarez said.
Tarabidan, a venue of IP issues
The said festival also became a venue for IP’s to raise their voices in many issues that they feel were not answered by the local or even the national government. Before the formal program started, a press conference was held that was attended by tribal chieftains from different barangays in San Vicente along with Lydia Rodriguez, the current Municipal Administrator.
Some of this issues were the missing funds for the construction of their tribal hall that was promised and never built until now, issues on getting permits for their livelihood such as Rattan and Almiciga raisins gathering, and some water supply problems.
The IP’s also called out on National Commission on Indigenous Peoples-Palawan to give action to their request to have Indigenous People’s Mandated Representative (IPMR) to be their voice in the local government of San Vicente.
The administration of Alvarez promised to look into these issues to help the IP’s of her town. It was the first time she heard those issues, she said, and will deal with these accordingly.
“I just heard about that. I’m always in my office and was never brought up to me about this situation. I’m only in the office for 100 days. These are the problems of the past administrations and we will address this for sure,” Alvarez said in closing.
The said celebration is mandated under Presidential Proclamation No.1906 declaring October as Indigenous People’s month in the Philippines, it’s also a way of commemorating the passing of Republic Act 8271 also known as the Indigenous People’s Right Act (IPRA).