Talaingod through the years

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Collaboration with government agencies.

Libayao is grateful that the National Housing Authority granted the town some P80-million for the establishment of three  IP Village namely: Balai Lupowanan in Sitio Nasilaban (P20-Million); Balai Ugpaan in Sitio Gatong (P20-Million)  — all in  Barangay Palma  and Balai Pig Inim in Sitio Misolong, Barangay Sto. Niño, while another P20-million was allotted for an IP  dormitory  which will be constructed within the vicinity of Datu Jose Libayao memorial High School at Barangay Tiibi-tibi.

Marcelino P. Escalada, the NHA general Manager said that his agency provided the support to Talaingod in consonance with the President’s vision to end insurgency  under EO 70. He also reiterated full support to Talaingod by saying that such intervention is  “not just a compliance but a dedication to uplift the lives of the IPs and develop their communities.”

Escalada elaborated, “When people live in a comfortable house, they live in harmony with each other and discussions for the community development runs smoothly.”

Aside from the NHA, Libayao said that the Office of Davao del Norte Second District Representative Pantaleon D. Alvarez is providing support in various infrastructure projects. “Atty. Ana Alvarez is coordinating with us in all the plans and projects of the Congressman in my town, from roads to women development.”

The department of health, according to Libayao has outlined programs and services for the women and children in his town. “Death due to illness and dying while en route to the hospital has been one of our problems, but slowly we are getting closer to resolve this because I am personally attending to this concern, I move around communities and make sure that I listen to the needs of my people,” he stressed.

In the field of education, Libayao said that the Education Department included in their curriculum a lumad module to ensure that learners are well-grounded to the cultural practices and tradition.

“Students wear their traditional lumad outfit one day in a week, to inculcate in their minds that despite any development, they keep some symbols of the lumad lifestyle such as clothing, and, they must be proud of it,” Libayao emphasized.

Oplan Tabang

The comprehensive development approach adopted by the neophyte Davao del Norte Governor Edwin I. Jubahib, according to Libayao provides the town a stronger and wider support from agricultural to tourism development but most importantly, the delivery of health services.

In Davao del Norte, Jubahib laid out “Oplan Tabang” or “OPLAN TABANG” (Tabang sa Barangay Alang sa Nanginahanglan ug Galisod), that is being implemented under the auspices of EO 70, in which government agencies emerge in communities to provide corresponding support to their identified local problems.

“It brings government right at the heart of the people,” Jubahib  explained. The province, according to Jubahib “Is trying to reach out to all peace stakeholders, because I believe, we cannot attain genuine peace if people live in the pangs of poverty, that is why, I make sure that there is a strong economic component in every project that my administration introduces in the community.”

Talaingod Mayor Jonnie A. Libayao receives the latest crown of his town.-Photo Courtesy: Clifford Libayao

Talaingod 2019 and beyond

Despite the outpouring of support for development, Libayao emphasized that “the culture and tradition of talaingod is preserved.” 

In the execution and implementation of major policies and setting directions, Libayao expressed having all the support from the Municipal Council led by Vice Mayor Francisco J. Gepulla Jr. as well as his office under the care of his  wife Leny as personal assistant. His son Clifford, a teacher by profession also work as the municipal administrator who also sits as the concurrent tourism officer of the town.

Clifford Libayao said, “the Mayor spend no time for his family. He goes around  communities during weekend, spends time with our people to listen to them as  he is so attached to his work.”

In the tourism development plan, Clifford said that he makes sure that the culture and tradition is preserved. “We need to preserve our culture, tourism development and promotion starts with our distinct identity as Ata-Manobo, we are hard working and dedicated people,” he added.

“We  have many natural tourism destinations, that is God-given destinations. We have the Uraya’s Peak where one can see sunrise and sunset over a sea of clouds, and our waterfalls and springs with crystal-clear water,” Clifford boasted.

Though rapid development is at hand, Libayao said, “we need to stay strong and must hold on to our culture and identity,” as he cited an example that some Lumads now accept motorbikes as dowry instead of the traditional horse, agong “Gong” or pig. But when one marries a daughter of a tribal chieftain, he must offer either a horse, a gong or pig or all of those.”

“One day, in the future, if God allows it, I do not want to see a lumad just wandering along the road, I want to see them travelling around our town comfortably riding a motorbike with a good road and having good health. But their identity as lumads should remain not just in their traditional outfit but also inside their heart. A lumad must keep the essence of what Manama/God has instilled as a people,” Libayao envisioned.-Editha Z. Caduaya

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