Historic Gathering of All Tribal Groups in Davao Oriental to Foster Understanding, Preservation of Rich Culture and Tradition

PGO Chief of Staff Ednar Dayanghirang represents Gov. Dayanghirang during the opening of the event on June 27 at the Capitol Tennis Court.

City of Mati, Davao Oriental — In time of the province’s Golden Anniversary celebration, all of Davao Oriental’s tribal groups garbed in their colorful and unique traditional clothes have gathered at the Capitol for the historic “Pongon Para sa Pagreserba ng Kultura aw Tradisyon,” which was a huge gathering of all tribal groups in Davao Oriental.

“This is a historic first,” says Ednar Dayanghirang, executive assistant of Davao Oriental Governor Nelson Dayanghirang. “Everyone is happy to be part of this historic huge gathering of all tribal groups in the province. Nobody is left behind. This is a huge celebration for our strong unity and understanding. All the tribes are one in celebrating our rich cultural diversity, and let us all preserve them,” says Ednar Dayanghirang.

The ethnic groups in Davao Oriental are the dominant Mandaya tribe, and the Islamized tribes of Kagan and Kalagan. “I am happy that the Muslim people are now being included in a huge gathering, a huge celebration such as this. Let us strengthen even more our strong unity in the province,” says Sultan Allan manuel, the chief Sultan in Davao Oriental who spoke in behalf of the Islamized tribes in the province. Eleuterio Manaytay, the provincial chieftain of the Mandaya natives, has thanked the provincial government for hosting the historic gathering of all tribal groups in the province. “Each of us was able to showcase our rich culture and tradition. Each of us is very proud of our cultural identity,” says Mandaya leader Manaytay. All the leaders of tribal groups in the province have expressed optimism that such event would further strengthen their “strong unity and peaceful coexistence,” and they vowed to “work for peace and participate in other peace intervention programs of the government.”

Davao Oriental Governor Nelson Dayanghirang says it was an “honor and privilege” to host the Pongon, adding that it is one of the “peace intervention programs” of the provincial government. In a message read for him by his executive assistant, the governor says: “This kind of endeavor will surely help us in our steadfast advocacy to protect the rights and interests of our beloved indigenous peoples in Davao Oriental. This would guarantee your meaningful involvement and participation in all government development interventions for your welfare. We have always prioritized the indigenous people and Muslim communities in our Provincial Development and Physical framework Plan so they will have budget allocation and develop new programs and services for their communities. I am extremely happy to help you in asserting your cultural identity as it is the basis of empowerment. Identity is power. Having no identity is like having no name. If a person or thing has no name, it is as if it does not exist. Thus, we feel slighted if somebody forgets our name. To suppress the cultural identity of a people and successfully impose an alien culture is to reduce them into a passive, docile mass subservient to the power wielders of the alien culture. They lose their originality, and treasure troves of knowledge, accumulated wisdom, and creativity.”

The governor adds: “The primary source of soft power, whether of an individual, group or nation is a strong, distinct cultural identity. A definite notion of who we are, gives us a basis for determining our direction in life, or vision for the future, organizing our priorities, making commitments, knowing our responsibilities and defining our place in the world. Our minds are in full command of what is native to us. Relying on our indigenous heritage thus can produce superior and creative results, unlike when we think with a borrowed mind. Harnessing the strengths of our traditional culture is the best guarantee of sustainable development and social well-being.” By Ferdinand Zuasola




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