On January 23, 2015, we received the sad news from Lakewood, one of the Ancestral Domains with which MPI is working, that Timuay Ansiman Gumandal Balabag passed away due to a heart attack. He died at the age of 56 in his house at Barangay Baking, Lakewood, in the province of Zamboanga del Sur, Philippines.
As an MPI scholar, Timuay (Tribal Chieftain) Ansiman actively participated in most of MPI’s activities, including a recent activity in their tribal hall where he acted as a key informant in the Indigenous Political Structure (IPS) documentation for Lakewood. During the activity, he encouraged his fellow Timuays to intensely collaborate in sharing information and doing the genealogy because one will never know when Magbabaya beckons one home. Indeed, death comes like a thief in the night.
Aside from being a respected Timuay, he was also a Bhelyan (shaman) and was serving in his second-term as Barangay Captain in Baking, where he ran unopposed in the local barangay election. He earned the name Dibudo (serenader) among the IP Scholars when he sang a lullaby of courtship to which Bae(Tribal Chieftess) Maalingasa gamely responded gracefully with a Higaunon dance during the Solidarity Night of Course 2 – Conflict Resolution Skills and Facilitation Enhancement Training in Iligan City. He was, in fact, friendly among and beyond his tribe.
His knowledge, information and wisdom will be written and treasured in the IPS documents of the Lakewood Ancestral Domain. As MPI in-house consultant and training facilitator Rockrock Antequisa shared, we felt we “lost an ancient library!” This will be his legacy and contribution for the future generations of his people.
May his soul rest in peace with Magbabaya.