The ICCs/ IPs of Tublay Domain

The Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs) have a long significant interdependence with the lands and environments in which they live. These lands and environments are vital for their survival, providing a wide display of essence for food, shelter and other livelihood equipment, as well as provide for various sources for a variety of subjects for both rituals for economic, psychosocial, political, and cultural systems for the ICCs/IPs everyday use.

These ICCs/IPs are guardians and keepers of their lands and environments, and have been assigned by ancestral bonds to care for these through consecutive generations. These lands and its features, characteristics and uniqueness are anchored on the Tublay ICCs/IPs belief systems that are interwoven by an integrated and holistic cultural system that gives meaning to their indigenous knowledge, systems and practices.

As far as the IPs/ICCs can remember the following IKSP have been practiced and is still being practiced today. However with the incursion of “development trends” these may have been diluted along the process of said development.

Indigenous ecological knowledge is expressed in many ways. Some particular important expressions are customary practices such as hunting, fishing and gathering. Since these activities require knowledge of customary ways to procure these resources, the exercise by Indigenous peoples of their rights to carry out these activities in accordance with their laws and customs may be regarded as a demonstration of assertion of their rights to their traditional knowledge systems. Indigenous customary hunting, fishing and gathering practices may therefore be considered aspects of rights relating to land.

A. Land Use and Management System

The culture of the community is the same with other indigenous peoples whose lives and traditions is a land-based culture. They build rice fields along creeks and river. A rice field owner is considered part owner of the watershed and has all the right and responsibility to protect the watershed. Firewood and building construction materials can only be taken from an identified village forest, which is communally owned. Land for grazing of animals may either be private or communal.

As in other traditional societies, subsistence agriculture enabled the ibadoys and kankanaeys to produce their food requirements. Root crop cultivation in the “uma” (swiden farms) yielded “dokto” (camote- sweet potatoes) “gabi” (taro) and “ube” (yam). As cattle became the base of the ibaloy economic system, gradually replacing gold mining and trading estancias (grazing land) emerged as a new type of landed property.

Traditional landmarks for boundaries utilized are “atoll” (stonewalls) “alad” (fencing), “shontog” (mountains), “kulukol” (ditch) naturally planted big stones and creeks. Another old tradition of boundary delineation is the “baoc” (soil walling - a sort of stonewall however using specific earthen soils and is built like a mound).

As for the kankanaey, a “pakde” (ceremonial rites attended to by able-bodied male members from each HH, believed to ward off death and any evil calamity that may befall the community.) identifies territorial boundary of the community identified by a “pakedlen” as central monument and pairs of “sipitan” is constructed along pathways that serves as boundary monuments.  

However, as per oral accounts, the preeminence of the ibaloy culture is cattle raising (“pastol”) and due to its high risk, these activity has waned and only limited to some few “baknangs” (rich).

But as cash economy invaded the community, the ICCs turned into commercial agriculture. There was a massive land conversion to chayote production which to date is a lucrative business.

B. Land Ownership Systems

Traditional land ownership involved a sharing system between the “baknangs” and their kin that guaranteed mutual responsibilities for the land, the produce and the animals. (Footnote the cultural fallout by Ruth Alcantara).

Under the Ibaloy custom, the land was the property of the person who worked it first, except forestland, which though restricted in certain areas, was communally owned. (Discussed in detail in forest management). Under the kankanaey custom, accounts related that an ibadoy in palew, pointed out a parcel of land to which they (kankanaey) would inhabit, which is located in Ambassador, of which to date, their populace increased.

For the Ibaloys, “tawid” (inheritance) is the common distribution of property to the children. A bigger portion is given to the youngest child with the condition that he/she is expected to stay with the parents and take care of them. “Ita-kem sha si nanang tan tatang sha”. Same with the Kankanaeys.

It is true with the kankanaeys in tubday, “tawid “ (inheritance) is the manner of ownership. However, land transfer within the family follows some specific form. The eldest and the youngest members of the family get a wider portion of the land. The educated member of the family gets lesser part of the inheritance than the uneducated.

For the Ibaloys, modes of acquisition is in any of the following:

Dagbo – a form of payment for labor.

Daho – lots are being sold to relatives or to the other residents of the barangay.

Salsha or Salsha-tungkal – a form of acquiring land through an agreement with the involvement of money. The first agreement is through “salsha”, after sometime, it will be considered sold if the borrower was not able to pay back the amount on the time frame agreed.

Sa-dat ni nay uhat - Form of land acquisition, in cases of death where in the family concern cannot provide animals or materials to be used in performing the rituals, a family kin or any individual within the community is asked to give what is needed (“mangi uhat”) such as animals to be butchered or any other materials to be used for the death ritual, with the lot of the dead person as payment.

“Sinadat” (Barter) – expensive farming equipment like “bareta”, “pala”, “arasho” and animals are being bartered with a piece of land.

“Kinaba” – a piece of land declared by an individual as his own hence he was the very first who introduced improvements and developments. These serve as proof of ownership. The more industrious the IP is, the more he can have “kinaba”.

As for the kankanaeys of Tubday, they acquire their lands through the following modes:

lnobla/pinanad. The first to work or settle on a vacant piece of land gets to own the land. And proofs of ownership are improvements and developments the owner has introduced into the land. These include fencing and building canals for a pastureland and terracing for rice fields.

lnsukat or lnbalintan. This is a barter system through which a piece of land may be exchanged for an animal or another piece of land.

Tawid. This is an unwritten customary law governing succession of properties. It is, in other words, an inheritance system.

Gisda/Gisseng. A lending agreement under which a piece of land becomes the collateral for an amount of money borrowed. Under the agreement, the land is considered sold if the borrower cannot return the money on the agreed time.

Pugo. This refers to selling lands in cash.

Salda/benben. This is a type of loan, which needs a witness. Both parties usually seal their transaction with a cup of tapey or rice wine. Priority for the loan is the nearest kin and neighbors if nobody from the kin will get it.

C. Forest and Watershed Management and Protection

The protection of the forests and watersheds are integral to the culture of the community. Their belief of the existence of the unseen or spirits “egma-sas” that resides in the forest prevents them from doing destructive activities in the forest and the watershed. Some terms for the “egma-sas” are “Bagbagisen” and “Ampasit”. The orders and rules set by the elders are well respected and observed.

There are no written ordinances governing them but the fear of punishment by nature and the spirits that exist in the forests and watersheds is the main factor for their discipline.

Before conducting any activity, a “mad-mad” (prayer) is said. Example – Before cutting trees, a “mad-mad” is said to ask permission and give time for the spirit to leave.

Trees are thoroughly protected especially those that are believed to be source of water (Tebbel and Sabdang). Trees can be gathered for lumber and used for house construction. The dried branches are allowed to be gathered for firewood. Some of the practices are the following:

  • Purong” leaves of “sapsap” is formed into a knot (esek-got), a sign that would indicate no trespassing. These are seen at the entrance of the restricted areas like for instance the protected forests and water sources.

This is also believed to be of a great help in guarding the farm from the destructive rats.

In some other cases, “purong” is placed around the house or rice fields, water source after a caño ceremony has done as a sign that the owners are having “Ngilin” (a two to three days’ rest of the concerned family to let the purpose of the ceremony effective). Nobody is allowed to enter the premises where the purong is placed.

  • Singal” little cross structure to be placed beside things that are prohibited example; trees that are prohibited to be cut.
  • “Tengshal” a manner of gathering fire woods by removing the branches of the matured trees and let it dry.

There are techniques applied by the IPs in gathering fauna. They hunt with the use of “apad”, “kati”, “da-bong”, “katig”, “solo”, “Kelteb”. These are made out of rope. Bolo ”pana” and “ pika” are used in hunting wild animals.

Hunting activity is usually done during “bu-kas” (rainy season) when the alumit, balete and other trees bear fruits.

D. Water Resources Management and Protection

The protection and management of water resources by the IPs in Tublay, both Ibaloys and the Kankanaeys are anchored on their belief that there are spirits (“egma- sas” or “tinmungaw” or “temengaw”) residing in all sources and bodies of water. This belief automatically prevents any body to do destructive activities that will menace the water source and the aquatic life within it. Nobody is allowed to wash acidic and salty maters within the water source hence, it is believed that these chemicals will drive away the spirits guarding the spring or water source and this could cause the drying up of the source.

Usually when an individual IP crosses bodies of water, he/she throws a piece of stone at the same time says a “madmad” (prayer) asking the spirits to get out from his/her path.

To give due respect to the unseen spirits that are believed to be residing in the sources and bodies of water, they are given “Betang” (a piece of meat with gabi) during cañao. An offering or share of the spirits guarding the springs or water source accompanied with “madmad” of giving thanks and asking for good health.

Fishing is allowed during tiagew (dry season) when the fish are not pregnant. Fishing techniques applied are “salep” (dry up portion of the river by diverting the water in one direction), “baniit”, “kapkap”(with use of hands), “doydoy/sagasha” (fish net), “tavukol” basket like that traps the fish) and “silag” (fishing during night time). The catch is only for home consumption.
For irrigation system, they use “kulukol” (ditch), “taroy”, or “talak” (bamboo). For potable water they use taroy or talak. Sources of potable water were usually surrounded by stonewalls with fence to protect it from stray animals and or from the “pastol” (pasture).

For both tribes in Tublay, the destruction of the trees, boulders and whatever is in the water resources would cause the spirits to dry up this water.

E. Marine Resource Management

Marine resources such as eels, river shrimps, frogs, shells and other small fishes are found in the domain resources. Due to changing environmental conflicts such as erosion, siltation, and western developmental strategies, these marine resources are facing their extinction. The ICCs/IPs believed that these are to be taken in small quantities and for home consumption, such that other marine resources can propagate.

F. Mineral Resource Management and Protection

Rivers are rich with minerals like gold. However, the only allowed form of gathering is through saludog/barkes/sayo/amsil. Gold panning is not allowed along riverbanks adjacent to rice fields or uma.

There are no penalties set for non-abiders but when somebody violates the rules, the elders will convene for tong-tong and set penalties for such.

As per data gathered, the existing mineral resource is copper of which the Sto. Nino mines have extracted. However this was closed in 1982. These are located in barangays Ambassador and Ba-ayan.

Pocket miners are found in some of the barangays. This activity is to augment their income. There is however restrictions to the location allowed as per rules of each barangays concerned.

The proceeds of the activity is only for the individual /private miner. There is no established cost sharing benefits/systems in place. It is however believed that these private individuals/miners perform their own “madmad” (prayer) such that their activity is blessed and that there will be no ill feeling of the spirits guarding these mineral resources. In cases where the private miner was able to obtain or acquire some proceeds, he/she performs a thanksgiving for the success of his/her labor.

G. Natural Health Practices

The uses of herbal and botanical plants for medicines were practiced since immemorial and it was carried up to the present. But due to the introduction of processed synthetic medicine, users are shifting to it. Nevertheless, the IPs of Tublay even up to the present practices some of these health practices being done before.

Uses of herbal, botanical plants and insects for medicine

  • Red ant (angiyawan) – for toothache. Fry and pulverize then put inside the aching tooth.
  • Bekkeng – for toothache.
  • Uling (Charcoal) – for stomach ache. Pulverized and mixed it with water and drink.
  • Coconut shell – for wounds or for those who are newly circumcised. Pulverized the dried coconut shell then apply to the wounds.
  • Kigis, guava shoots, sapsap shoots – for wounds.
  • Cogon grass roots – for kidney problems.

There were numbers of herbal and botanical plants used as medicines by the old IPs of Tublay, which are at present found in the book published as herbal medicines. Other natural health practices are the use of urine as disinfectant. It is applied directly to the open wounds. The mother breast milk is good for sore eyes. Hilot is usually done to hasten body or muscle pain.

During child bearing/birth, the mother is given boiled dried seeds of wing beans as coffee. Generally, a native chicken is butchered mixed with ginger and papaya is served to the mother to induce breast milk for the newly born baby. The IPs uses a piece of sharp bladed bamboo to cut the umbilical cord of the baby to avoid infection.

Several of the IPs shared their observation that people before have longer and healthier life. According to their testimonies, it is because foods before are chemical and pesticide free. No ingredients and preservatives mixed in their food. Medicines used were not synthetic.

H. Indigenous Protection Systems for Resources

The most effective resources protection system done by the IPs was the inculcation of respect and obedience to elders. It is because the elders in accordance with their norms, costumes and traditions were setting rules. Oral transmission of knowledge in accordance with well understood cultural principles, and rules regarding secrecy and sacredness that govern the management of knowledge were some of the strategies.

Development includes interalia, the provision of social and physical infrastructures, the provision of financial services and small medium enterprises activities as well as agriculture and natural resource management. The conclusion is that programs to reduce rural poverty must be anchored comprehensive and, must include the views of the ICCS/IPs and the actions of Local Government Units.

Taking into consideration a holistic approach to development, these relevant inputs from the stakeholders particularly the IPs/ICCs consultations, synthesizes a broad development network anchored on the prevailing IKSP of the IPS/ICCs of Tublay.

As the ICCs/IPs of Tubday are regarded as one of the vulnerable sector of society, they differ significantly in terms of culture, identity, economic systems, and social institutions, as a whole they most often reflect specific disadvantage in terms of social indicators, economic status, and quality of life. Indigenous peoples often are not able to participate equally in development processes and share in the benefits of development, and often are not adequately represented in national social, economic, and political processes that direct development.

As ICCs/ IPs of Tubday they have developmental aspirations. However, they may not benefit from development programs designed to meet the needs and aspirations of dominant populations, and may not be given the opportunity to participate in the planning of such development. It is in this context that this ADSDPP Formulation afforded the ICCs/IPs of Tubday to participate in and benefit from development equally with other fragments of society, and have a role and be able to participate in the design of development interventions that affect them.

This Development Plans and Programs addresses such dilemma in recognizing the conditions and issues of the ICCS/IPs and identifying measures toward satisfying their needs and aspirations. These Plans and Projects focuses on the ICCs/ IPs participation in development and mitigation of undesired effects of development. It is through this planning approach that empowered them to actively participate in the development process of the ADSDPP formulation.

Data Source - NCIP, Benguet