By Jessica M. Bacud
NAGTIPUNAN, Quirino – Almost two thousand indigenous people (IP) from the provinces of Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, and Aurora gathered to mark the 1st Bugkalot /Ilongot Day Celebration at Landingan Gymnasium on July 23 here.
With its theme, “Strengthening Unity Among the Bugkalot/Ilongot Ancestral Domain Holders,” the event focused on boosting unity among the IP tribes.
Rosario Camma, chieftain of the Bugkalot tribe, said they are pushing forward their rights in their Ancestral Domain in self-governance, protection, and conservation of their resources that are importantly linked to their culture and traditions.
He said that the government in 2016 recognized their rights of possession and ownership of 212,773.47 hectares of ancestral domain land (Lupang Ninuno) in Nagtipunan, Quirino; Maria Aurora and Dipaculao in Aurora Province; and Dupax Del Norte, Kasibu, Dupax Del Sur and Alfonso Castaneda in Nueva Vizcaya province.
Meanwhile, former Nagtipunan Mayor Nieverose Meneses said: “Let us be reminded of our ancestors who fought so hard for us that paved the way for the recognition of our rights.”
“Today is another milestone because we are making our official and first Bugkalot Day in celebration of the birth of our first Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT),” she said.
“This eventually led to the numerous opportunities that have helped alleviate the lives of our fellow Bugkalot in the aspect of tourism,” Meneses said, citing the Landingan Viewpoint as their own ancestral domain tourist destination that now has 81 Bugkalots employed.
The earlier part of the celebration was a motorcade demonstrating the Bugkalots’ rich mixture of their beautiful traditional costumes interwoven with embroidery, jewelry pieces, beading, and accessories.
Former and current chieftains (Tengeg) were acknowledged, like Alfredo Ordinario (Tepdeg) of Bitnong, Dupax Del Norte, Nueva Vizcaya; Salvador Molina (Badung) of Bayanihan, Maria Aurora, Aurora; and former Nagtipunan Mayor Rosario K. Camma (Keseggan) of Kakiduguen , Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya and Nagtipunan.
They were recognized for “their boundless contributions in maintaining groups of solidarity, identity, and preserving their distinct concepts of property.”
Alongside the presentation of “Tagem” or post-headhunting dance done with set arm, body, and foot movements, the visitors and villagers enjoyed with excitement.
Furthermore, Meneses emphasized: “We already took the first step into making our ancestral domain as an area of special interest in eco-tourism and cultural tourism. All that we need to do is to explore more, create more, and further enhance it.”
“Of course, we will be facing a lot of challenges along the way, either coming from outside forces or maybe even from our tribe. But I know we can surpass them all because of our unity,” she added.
“Let this be our one mission as one tribe, to make our Ancestral Domain a world of peace, love, harmony, and equal opportunity. Live long and prosper my fellow Bugkalot/Ilongot. See you again on our next, next, next, and next Bugkalot Day,” the former mayor ended.