For almost five years, MPI has been deeply involved with the Higaunon and Subanen Indigenous Peoples for Northwestern Mindanao. Over that period, the two tribes learned much from one another. In April of 2017, this was brought to another level with the Higaunon & Subanen Cross-Sharing, Learning Reflection & Integration for Peace and Solidarity activities. As the MPI will be completing its part in the Resource-Based Conflict and Peacebuilding Training Program by the end of this year, one participant said, “it is a beautiful way to end the project.”
The seven-‐day cross-‐sharing activity covered the wide ranging learning exchanges. A visit to the far-‐flung village of Kumalarang was perfectly timed for the season enabling the participants to observe indigenous farming practices. The participants visted sacred places in Bayug, Iligan. Thye also had the opportunity to visit a freshwater lake of Lakewood.
Together, they observed a policy legislation session of the City Council of Iligan City, where Datu Diamla serves as an Indigenous People’s Mandatory Representative (IPMR). The participants had the opportunity to listen to a Community Relation Officer (ComRel) at the exploratory camp site of TVI Mining company in Balabag, Bayog and in the City of Cagayan de Oro, where they visited the IP Affairs Office. Participants also interacted with the Indigenous Peoples (IP) leaders who had become squatters in their own land because of huge transnational palm plantations. They heard from a city officer who is also a tribal leader who handles the city’s IP affairs office.
By the end, the activity was able to surface narratives about commonalities and uniqueness of the Higaunon and Subanen tribes in relation to their customs and traditions. They learned and shared about IP governance and leadership and preservation and management of their rich natural resources. The cross-sharing contributed to the strengthening of IP governance and leadership as key to asserting the struggle for Indigenous Peoples' right to self-‐determination.