Lagawe, Ifugao. Last July 2, 2016, more than 34 church leaders of Lagawe and other parts of Ifugao attended a seminar workshop on “Valuing Indigenous Earth Wisdom”, held in the Parish Hall of the Diocese of Lagawe. The workshop was organized by the Lagawe Parish in partnership with the Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary of Baguio City.
Fr. John Habawel welcomed the participants and pointed out the relevance of the workshop in line with the Catholic church’ s concern for the environment and as a response to Pope Francis XVI’s encyclical letter Laudato Si- “On Care For Our Common Home”. In the encyclical, Pope Francis recognized indigenous people’s contributions in caring for the earth.
The workshop started with Ms. Vicky Macay’s story of her experiences of how the Ibaloy of Loakan lived and took care of their land and the present day changes and challenges they encountered to keep their lands.
After this, the participants talked about how this story resonated with their personal experiences in Ifugao. To further focus their discussions they divided themselves into four groups to discuss the topics of land, unseen spirits, community, and values. The results of their discussions were shared through songs and dramatic presentations.
The participants, who were mostly Ifugao elders, realized that there are many Ifugao cultural practices that they would like the younger generation to continue. They hoped that customary laws on the care of the land would continue. They also place great value on the many different forms of traditional cooperation practices such as dang-a for building a house and bringing the harvest home; baddang for harvesting rice, accompanying relatives of deceased home after burial, and soliciting help for a neighbor who is sick or in trouble; ubbu which is working together by turns; hablag or giving material assistance to relatives of the deceased by the in-laws such as pigs, carabaos, rice, drinks and native blanket. Appreciation was also expressed for the traditional justice system and practices, such as mediation or amicable settlement for cases such as oral defamation, marital problems, stealing, and slight physical injuries. Other valuable traditional practices include the honga, the gathering of relatives and community in thanksgiving celebrations; bogwa, secondary burial and cleaning of remains of ancestors or family members to show their love, respect, gratitude and honor their memory; and the recognition of the existence of good unseen nature spirits.
To summarize the lessons from the workshop, the facilitators Len Regpala and Lucy Ruiz presented a powerpoint presentation on Cordillera People’s Cosmology.
A highlight of the workshop was the participants’ interest in the research technique that was discussed which they can use in their research projects. The researches that they planned were on Ifugao family life and values; historical accounts of the lands where the Lagawe mission chapels and churches are located; and historical accounts of how the lay associates started. Another highlight is Lucy Ruiz ‘s presentation of Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary’s publication on “Indigenous Earth Wisdom”.