THE WAY I SEE IT | Susan Amoroso
The largest and oldest tribe existing in Boracay is rejoicing once more with the opening of Boracay as it awaits government recognition. The whole Tumandok Tribe, the largest indigenous tribe presently occupying the island in the municipality of Malay, Aklan hails its reopening as it awaits official recognition from the government.
Datu Katarungan, head of the Tumandok Tribe is optimistic the government will give them the recognition they deserve.
We are happy that Boracay is fast becoming the staycation of choice for those who want to enjoy the beauty and freshness of Boracay even as they combine leisure while working online.
“As the descendants of our Tumandok ancestors we celebrate the unique contribution of Boracay to national development and world tourism. However, we have an urgent message to our President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, please give the Tumandok Tribe the recognition it deserves under the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).’’
This is the cry of the Tumandok Tribe represented by Datu Katarungan.
“We lament the fact that government has failed to recognize us as the largest indigenous tribe existing in Boracay since we have been here since time immemorial. “ANG BUONG BORACAY ay pagmamay-ari ng Boracay Tumandok Tribe nung unang panahon at wala pang ibang tao kundi kami.”
This is the assertion of Cirilo Pelayo Casimero, a retired mariner and known by his Indigenous royal title as Datu Katarungan.
In an exclusive interview, Datu Katarungan said his ancestors settled in the islands since the 1600s with other Tumandoks and have lived in Boracay for centuries.
For years the tribe has wanted to assert their ancestral domain rights. In December 2019 year the Boracay Tumandok Tribe submitted a letter to the office of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) in Region VI asking for their official recognition as an Indigenous People whose ancestral domain is the entire Boracay island “since time immemorial.” The NCIP is the national government agency that is responsible for protecting the rights of the indigenous peoples of the Philippines.
The Boracay Tumandok Tribe, according to Datu Katarungan has about 4,440 members and he currently serves as the over-all datu of the three barangays of Manoc-Manoc, Balabag and Yapak in the municipality of Malay in Aklan province.
The Tumandok tribe operated as a cooperative/ foundation and organization rolled into one and called itself asBoracayTumandok Indigenous Cultural Communities Indigenous People’s Malay, Aklan, Inc. Recently the tribe was given permission to operate as such by Acting Municipal Mayor Frolibar S. Bautista.
Datu Katarungan said it is only just that the government recognizes Boracay as the ancestral domain of the Boracay Tumandok Tribe and be accorded with all the legal rights to protect and develop the island.
He said the Tumandok Tribe is hoping to get a favorable response from the NCIP Region VI. Casimero said the Tumandok Tribe is willing to cooperate with the government as provided by law under the NCIP to ensure the sustainability of Boracay.