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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

BSWA marks 2nd founding anniversary

By Alma L. Tingcang

BUUG, Zamboanga Sibugay - Everyone was in a festive mood. The Subanen community, guests, local folks had a reason to celebrate because September 30 was the 2nd founding anniversary of the Buug Subanen Workers Association (BSWA).

No less than Congresswoman Nancy Alaan Catamco of North Cotabato’s 2nd District, Indigenous Peoples (IPs) committee chairman who is a Bagobo/Manobo descendant was the keynote speaker of the occasion.

Catamco was supposed to attend an LP convention but asked to be excused to give way to the invitation of the IPs in Buug. “We need to unite as a people, the Lumads. If we are not united, our culture and race will die. This is a great challenge for us to stand as one,” she said.

The lady lawmaker recommended a census of all Subanen in the area to have a baseline data so that whenever government interventions are available, IPs could be easily located and identified and they will be given immediate assistance.

Before the celebration started, the Daga ritual was observed led by the tribal leaders and witnessed by Catamco, which signifies blessings for everyone who joined and supported the celebration.

Ms. Jocelyn M. Chua, president of the BSWA cited the overwhelming support of tribal leaders, local official, IPs, national government agencies and other stakeholders making the celebration memorable and enjoyable.

“I would like to thank all of you for your untiring efforts. You have given me inspiration, and without your support, I would not have done this on my own,” Ms. Chua said passionately.

“It is not easy to lead this organization. They started out with nothing, only their hearts and minds. They had no capital. From there they moved on, with the support of government agencies and their efforts were not in vain. The hard work really paid off,” said  Ms. Margie Baya, chief administrative  officer of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) representing RD Timuey Lim P. Wong.

“These products represent our tribe. I salute your president, Ms. Jocelyn  Chua for spearheading the BSWA,” Baya said.

She is looking forward to the day that these products will be on display at the duty free shop in international airports. “Maybe a few years from now, we could see Americans or foreigners buying our products here in Zamboanga Sibugay,” she said positively.

“This way, I could say that the Subanen people have not remained primitive, as believed and perceived by some people. We are moving forward and we are proud to say that our clients have not remained in the mountains,” Baya went on to say.

She encouraged the IPs to continue improving their product with the support of government and partner agencies.

Meanwhile, The BSWA president Joy Chua said she is grateful for the government support in putting up a wine and vinegar factory in barangay Manlin, this town. To date, there are already 100 officers and members of the association and currently producing  pangase wine, special spicy vinegar, adlai wine and corn wine.

“This is a rare occasion that we are visited by the IPs committee chair in Congress,” Board member Boyet Yambao said. He acknowledged that the first settlers of Zamboanga Sibugay were Subanen so they have a right to govern the province.

Yambao recalled that when he was a board member in 2005, when the selection process was not systematized yet, the SP allocated funds so that there will be an IP representative who will sit as board member. “We were the first to implement it, nauna pa tayo sa ibang probinsiya,” Yambao quoted.

“Our province is already 15 years old and we aim to make the province the center of sustainable agri-industrial growth and model of good governance in the Zamboanga Peninsula. Let us all ponder on this and think what have we done to reach this goal,” Yambao challenged.

Yambao called on all IPs to first unite themselves and all local officials will be there to help and support their endeavors.

Other guests who witnessed the celebration were Mayor Jonam Lagas, local officials, heads of government agencies: DOLE, DOST, DAR, TESDA, PIA, NCCA, Princess Sunita Ryde and Subanen leaders from the different towns of the province.

Over 200 patients availed free medical/dental services, circumcision (Tuli), medicines, free haircut and feeding of pre-school children. Ms. Chua expressed her gratefulness to the medical team of the 44th IB under Lt. Col. Tommy Crosby, to the PNP for ensuring peace and order and to all who contributed to make the 2nd BSWA Anniversary celebration a memorable success.