Land Ownership

The locals believe that lands, like the water, are gifts from the gods. Therefore, everybody has the equal right to its ownership. However, in order to prevent quarrels over lands, the basic rule on land ownership is that the first ones to occupy a land will be recognized as its rightful owner. Once a land is occupied, the owner decides on what to do with it or how to protect it. Since most transactions held were unwritten, the statements of the nankadakay/nankedahay are the proofs of ownership. They ascertain the improvements or developments made by a person or persons in a piece of land. With regard to the boundaries, large rocks or trees are usually used as markers.

Certain instances would result in the transfer of the land ownership. Among the known manners by which land are through pinanad/inobla, inbalitantan/insukat, lan-ed/dan-ed/gasita, tawid, benben/salda and pugo/lako.

Pinanad or inobla literally means “worked on”. As the terms imply, anyone who has worked on a certain piece of land earns the right to its ownership. For instance, if developments (such as putting up fences, digging up canals or utilizing it for cultivation) on the land have been made. Insukat orinbalitan literally means “exchanged or traded for something”. Others trade their lands for an animal or another piece of land. The lan-ed involves using lands have as collateral for an amount borrowed. Once the money is not returned, the land ownership is then transferred to the person who loaned the amount. Tawid (inheritance) happens when the piece of land is passed on as inheritance. Unlike in the modern times, inheritance back then was unwritten. Lako or pugo (selling) involves selling the land for cash. Lastly, salda or benben is another unwritten agreement (but with the need for a witness) in which the land is loaned, usually to the nearest kin or neighbor.

There are customs being followed with regard to land transfer within a family. For instance, the eldest and the youngest inherit more. The reason being that the eldest has done more labor than anyone of his/her siblings. On the other hand, the youngest will be the one to take care of the parents as they age. The youngest child usually inherits the family house. Furthermore, the educated children will receive lesser since they have incurred expenses during their schooling.

In the past, there were instances when lands were traded for pork fat or namit/lamit. The story being that the old folks believe that mothers who had just given birth may only eat pork fat. But when the family runs out of pork fat, they exchange their lands for namit.

There are also instances when one owns a land not near from his home. In these cases, he/she would ask someone to watch over his land in exchange for something which may be arranged. Also, in cases when the owner is not able to work on his land, for instance plow the field, he can ask someone to do the job for him. The payment will also have to be agreed upon by both parties.

During the Commonwealth Government, under President Manuel L. Quezon, laws on the registration of lands were passed. However, due to lack of education, only a few of the Kapangan folks were able to declare their land ownership.