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Original Zamboangueños

Updated on September 23, 2015

by Rev. Berlie G. Yap

September 23, 2015

Some folks from the Ateneo de Zamboanga University (AdZU) came to Baranggay eMedia yesterday, September 23, to the morning primetime program of “Combersa, Quosa Ba” at 8-9AM as guests, to discuss some important matters of the Ecozone estate with the Subanon people around and inside the complex.

The one-hour discussion was very informative and very encouraging for the deemed original Zamboangueños, who for now, as most of them, are still considered as has been “left-out” of the development of our time. For the rest of those who do not know, before the Spaniards came to the shores of La Bella, there was already an existing civilization which had thrived with its own sovereignty here, they were the Subanon people.

They are called Subanon because they live and make their homes beside rivers. Historically, the Mt. Pulumbato was the seat of government to this antiquated independence, until intermarriages and assimilation took place, when the foreign influence of the Spaniards settled and colonized Zamboanga as their outpost in the South.

However, before the first Caucasian set foot in La Bella, there was already an existing healthy exchange of different people groups here, who were the Tausugs from Sulu, the Sama people along the seacoasts of the peninsula and from the neighboring islands, and few other tribes from several proximate places.

Another evidence of the Subanon’s active life, with the rest of the ethnic groups, in the peninsula is the present existence of the Kalibugan people in many parts of Zamboanga del Norte. These are the original Subanon groups who intermarried with other local ethnic groups, whom in the process have produced another unique people group and a hybrid dialect which you can see now in some towns in Zamboanga del Norte.

Written history, in fact, confirms that when Zamboanga was discovered by the Spaniards, folks here were not brute or barbarous, but had already a degree of system and modernity, in their own way. With the advent of the “Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997”, or is commonly known as the IPRA Law, the Subanon are given more importance in the territory of the Zamboanga Peninsula.

With regards to their existence, the State gave them the preference on some public lands by virtue of the doctrine that their very presence in the peninsula is traceable since way beyond or time immemorial. The law acknowledges them as one of the original owners of the vast lands of the Republic.

Thus, in the Ecozone complex, the Subanon people are given the privilege to build homes and cultivate crops or some agriculture, so long as the manner which they may undertake will not destroy the environment, like kaingin, and the natural resources of the entire territory. Though, the privilege is strictly governed by the authorities as will apply exclusively to the Subanon people only, because others may use the idea to take advantage the State.

By all logic, it is just but worth it that this people group will be given more preference, and we guys are not to ignore that probably, part of our blood carries some percent of Subanon traces. Notably also, there are certain personalities in some high places of our society, at present, who are openly acknowledging their ethnicity as Subanon, few of them are the former Mayor Caling Lobregat’s spokesperson and columnist Mike Apostol, and SSS Manager, Pagadian Branch James Buckly, whose residence is in Guiwan.

And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.” (Acts 17:26-27, NIV)

Courtesy of Barangay eMedia

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