Our culture is not a joke: Bukidnon lumad tells hecklers over ritual for Robredo

Mar. 01, 2022

Photo: VP Leni Media Handout

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines — An indigenous group in Sumilao, Bukidnon responded to hecklers in social media who mocked their ritual to presidential candidate and incumbent Vice President Leni Robredo last week.

Their statement came after some netizens reacted on a photo of their ritual where they placed a plate of dressed chicken over the vice-president’s head during her visit to Sumilao.

Some of the comments, which have targeted Robredo a lot of times, called this ritual “katangahan” and “canceled” Catholic tradition.

But the Panaw-Sumilao Multipurpose Cooperative, the group that led the ritual said their was nothing wrong as this has been their tradition ever since.

“The ritual offered on Feb. 23, 2022 for VP Leni Robredo was to ask Apu Magbabaya to bless the VP and to give her protection in all of her travels, endeavors, and that people will listen to her wherever she visits,” said Cheril Lorenza, vice chairperson of the group in a statement posted on social media February 25.

Lorenza added the ritual was based on the Higaonon culture which is a traditional welcome to the tribe’s guest in the form of prayer to “Apu Magbabaya,” or supreme being, that all is well in her travels, wherever she goes.

The indigenous peoples’ group said they have decided to conduct the prayer ritual for Robredo as she has continually visited their community and helped the farmers in their struggle for their land claim over a decade ago.

“As Sumilao farmers, we do not simply see the VP as a politician. She is our companion, a partner of farmers, and above all, a mother to us,” she said.

It can be recalled that before Robredo entered politics, she was a public interest lawyer who engaged the Sumilao farmers when they marched in 2007 from Bukidnon to Manila to protest the government inaction on their claim to their ancestral domain.

Video clips circulated on social media showed Robredo and her late husband, Naga mayor and interior government undersecretary Jessie marching with the farmers.

Because of this, Lorenza said they no longer consider Robredo as an outsider but as someone close to their hearts.

The group appealed to the public to understand their rituals.

One netizen criticized those who mocked the Lumad culture.

“BBM supporter or VP LENI supporter, if you’re from Bukidnon, please spread awareness. This is a sacred ritual. Do not let those uneducated imbeciles laugh at our culture. Do not let our culture be a joke to anyone!,” her post reads.

“We may have different prayers or rituals based on our respective cultures and traditions. However, we hope that you will respect our traditions and beliefs. We pray that you respect our ways in the same way that we respect your beliefs,” Lorenza said. (davaotoday.com)

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