By ALDWIN QUITASOL
SAGADA, Mountain Province — Town officials and elders called a special town council meeting to confront widespread reaction to the implications and issues arising from an alleged bodong (peace-pact) forged between this town and a Kalinga village.
Issues raised included: prior information, transparency to the information, representation, that Sagada was not binodngan or in the circle of bodong holding villages, several cultural issues and nuances of the two tribes thought to be involved in the forging of the alleged bodong.
Former Sagada Mayor and Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) consultant Thomas Killip explained and clarified that what transpired between him and Bangad peace-pact holder Engineer Andres Ngao-i with 80 members of his tribe was a form of an “Aluyos” or the beginning of a process towards building friendly relations but not yet a “Sipat” or the symbolic exchanging of tokens in the traditional forging of a bodong between two tribes.
He explained further that it was only a return favor of receiving visitors as a goodwill measure as he continued to explain the different levels considered in building friendly relations. A first level, he said is personal where the families or clan of two people forging a friendship pact are included. The second one he said is when two communities are covered. He added that friendship between two “ili” (communities) is established “to improve community ties and not necessarily to enter into a bodong,” he said.
Killip said he and Ngao-i as friends can be instruments in resolving problems and issues involving their town mates.
Sagada elder Jaime Tigan-o sees the purpose of the understanding is to avoid conflicts between the Sagada people and the members of the Bangad tribe. “We want peaceful resolutions to whatever problem that may arise between our communities and sway away from any violence that may occur in retaliatory actions from any of the parties involved in a misunderstanding,” Tigan-o stressed.
Engineer Andres ‘Andy’ Ngao-i is a member of the Regional Development Council representing the private sector and as a member of the Cordillera Bodong Administration (CBAd), he is also a member of the Cordillera People’s Liberation Army (CPLA) and a recognized peace-pact holder of the Bangad community.
Sagada Vice Mayor and Sangguniang Bayan presiding chair Richard Yodong said they welcome the friendship that was established between Killip and the Bangad tribe. He said however that it is not necessary that the whole people of Sagada partake in that understanding between Killip and Ngao-i. He explained that the culture of the Sagada people is that they respect whoever their “kailyan” (village mate) befriend and they accept it also as their friend.
Yodong said further that the Sagada people had no involvement in what happened last August 26 between Killip and Ngao-i where they held a program in the town’s capital. He added they understand that the agreement of Killip and Ngao-i, and he hopes it will serve as a bridge in preserving and sustaining peace and camaraderie and the prevention of conflicts.
According to Yodong, the Sagada SB committee on peace and order will have to study the possibility of entering into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) but said that the contents should be more of Sagada’s way of defining the pact.
Sagada Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) president Joseph Aclupen raised the idea of adopting Ngao-i as a son of Sagada instead of involving the whole tribe. But he and other Sagada elders noted that they can not just adopt any outsider without knowing their background or established reputation.
According to Gwendolyn Gaongen of the Tangguyub Peoples Center, the entry of the traditional bodong system is not practical and is not appropriate at present. She said it is best for the people of Sagada and the Bangad tribe people to enter into such peace agreement provided it will adjust to the present situation and understanding of the people. She stressed that it is time that certain cultural practices be adjusted for it to flourish and fit the actual conditions of the times and some impractical practices be corrected if not removed.
She said that the issue should be presented to the people to gather feedback and insights and incorporated into whatever agreement should there be one made. # nordis.net