Faced with the concrete realities of the times which confront the Indigenous People of South Cotabato, Sarangani Province and General Santos City (SOCSARGEN), the Catholic Mission to the Indigenous People (CMIP – Assumption Mission) envisions to bring fullness of life to the IPs (having organized themselves, enjoying relevant education and good health, economically sufficient, culturally enhanced, inherent right respected, spiritually nourished in an ecologically balance community) which befits their dignity as children of God.


In order to realize our vision, we commit ourselves to proclaim and witness the Good News of total Liberation and Salvation geared towards a transformed community which is

Life's lesson: You're a river before you become a sea
By: Gualberto B. Lumauig
Philippine Daily Inquirer
1:18 am | Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Having descended from an indigenous race, I am often asked, "How did you do it, carve a career that saw you hobnobbing with the high and the mighty?"

I cringe a little when asked this question. It makes me feel as though I had been asked by some uppity Westerner, when and how did you climb down from the trees?

Sadly, the attitude of most towards the indigenous people, which is at best condescending, persists. The prevailing mind-set is that nothing requiring the use of brains can come from the people whose God-given and preferred habitat is the forests and the mountains.

And so the indigenous people continue to suffer discrimination and exploitation. The abuse and injustice have sometimes become not only unbearable but also become threats to their way of life and culture such that the indigenous people are left no option but to futilely take up arms to defend their rights and freedom.

I am reminded of martyr-hero Macli-ing Dulag.

Macli-ing Dulag was a respected pangat (tribal chieftain) of the Butbut tribe whose home is a remote village deep in the fastnesses of my native land, the Cordillera. Dulag led the Cordillera natives in blocking the despoliation of their ancestral lands by a city capitalist who wanted to build a manufacturing plant in the area, and by the government itself, which was proposing to build a huge dam in the Chico River.

Dulag was resolute in his stand against the plant and the dam, declaring the plant would defoliate the forest, the dam would obliterate tribal settlements, and both would wreak ecological havoc on the Cordillera.

Proponents of the plant and the dam ran out of patience with Dulag. One night, while the pangat was in his hut all set to call it a day, assassins sprayed the hut with bullets. He was killed instantly.

Bullets shortened the life of Dulag. Did they also kill his hopes for an end to the iniquities and degradation endured by the indigenous people? Put in positive terms, would Dulag's supreme sacrifice usher in a new day of nobler treatment of his people, a better life for them?

Lifeblood of the nation

These questions are disturbing to me as they are to my fellow Cordillerans (the Ibaloys and Kankanays of Benguet, the Igorots of Bontoc or the Mountain Province, the Tingyans of Abra, the Isnegs of Apayao and Kalinga and the Tuwalis, Ayangans and Gaddangs of Ifugao).

In my interaction with them, conversations center mostly on the miserable way the indigenous people are regarded and exploited by the lowlanders, how our lands continue to be grabbed, our forests raped, and our wealth beneath the earth exploited, extracted and spirited away.

But what hurts more is the attitude by many that the indigenous people are remnants of the Glacial Age, more of wards of the state than contributors to national progress. Nothing can be further from the truth.

The resources of the indigenous people are the lifeblood of the nation.

The waters that fill the dams (Ambuklao, Binga, Magat, San Roque, Pantabangan), which irrigate the lowland farmlands and produce electric power for multinational industrial plants, come from the indigenous people's rivers and streams; the trees that shield the country from the heat and wind, and the plants and shrubs from which come extracts for drugs and medicines are those of the indigenous people's.

And the gold, silver, copper, and other minerals that bring billions of dollars into the country are dug from the bowels of the indigenous people's mountain-homes.

Can any one group of people in the country make a grander claim?

Kiangan patriarch

The indigenous people are the most marginalized in the whole land—despite sitting literally on the nation's natural wealth. Why? And what do we do about the problem?

I once had a lengthy discussion on this paradox with Apo Balajo, a revered Kiangan patriarch.

"You know, son," he said, "You are a river before you became a sea. We, people of the mountains, will remain insignificant rivulets, ignored and stepped on until we stir and strive to become part of the mainstream."

"Which means, Apo?" I asked.

"Which means we must acquire education, become as smart as, if not more than those who exploit us, who rob us of our patrimony, who consider us as no better than their footstool. That's the only way we can be their equal, entitled to life similar to theirs."

The Apo hit the nail on the head. Numerous attempts have been made to do right by the indigenous people. Legislations granting them one form of benefits or another have been passed by a succession of Congresses. A plethora of NGOs have arisen all formed ostensibly to help bring better life for them. But none of these efforts seemed to have worked in a dramatic way.

Education: Key to liberation

The indigenous people continue to wallow in poverty, they continue to be victimized by con artists, exploiters and vultures. Pitiful, for example, is the lot of our countrymen, the Aetas and the Dumagats, who descend to the cities every Christmastime not to share in the festivities but to beg.

Education, as the Apo suggested, is the key to liberation of the indigenous people from poverty and exploitation—massive and sustained education to create pockets of intelligentsia or intellectual elite in our people's strongholds. The intellectual elite will defend our communities against schemers and speculators.

I am passionate about creating a collection of educated men and women among the indigenous people because for as long as they mostly comprise individuals unacquainted with book learning, bringing progress to them will remain a formidable challenge, a tall mountain to climb.

Time is now

Education, it may be argued, is a long-term proposition, its fruits to be enjoyed only in the far-off future while the needs of the indigenous people are now. True. Which is why I propose that stakeholders look into the following initiatives which definitely will have immediate impact:

Increase the excise tax on extracted or produced minerals in the indigenous people's ancestral domain from the present 2 percent to 5 percent. The present tax yields only P390 million. Raising the tax to 5 percent will generate a revenue of P6.9 billion to P7 billion. Which means more money to share by the government with the people from whose land the minerals are extracted;

Strict implementation of the Pasture Land Act—which prohibits granting of pasture land or lease on areas occupied by the indigenous people—and the Public Land Act, which provides that tracts of lands occupied by indigenous people, whether disposable or not, since July 4, 1955, shall be entitled to free patent;

Allowing duly constituted government agencies to exercise full and exclusive supervision of all concerns and interests of the indigenous people and not placing them under the control of offices not created by Congress.

The effort to uplift the lot of the indigenous people is a tedious process requiring patience, sensitivity and creativity. It cannot be accomplished in a snap. But it must be done.

To paraphrase US President John F. Kennedy: "The gift of equality for all men comes not from the generosity of the State, it comes from the hands of God."


We congratulate Ms Analene Diata for being one of the 13,125 secondary teachers, out of 41,729 examinees, who passed the Licensure Examination for Teachers (L.E.T) given on September 25, the Professional Regulation Commission announced Thursday. We are proud of you. DEO GRATIAS!


October 17, 2011. We congratulate Chris, one of our CMIP & HANDS educational beneficiaries, who made it in the very recent board examination for Certified Public Accountants. Considering that there were only 4,066 board passers out of 8,525 who passed the said Licensure Examination, (which was given just a couple of days ago),it is indeed a great achievement for Chris! And together with your beloved parents, brothers and sisters, friendS and relatives, and your very own school, we say joyfully and gratefully - WE ARE PROUD OF YOU! CONGRATULATIONS!!!



This is a portion of that special two-hour ABS-CBN documentary "Bayaning Pilipino: Ako ang Simula ng Pagbabago" which was aired last Feb 28, 2010. Erlinda Cabañal, who works with the Catholic Mission to the Indigenous People (CMIP), is the Bayaning Pilipino Awardee for 2003. She has been working tirelessly and selflessly for the indigenous people of Southern Mindanao, particularly, the B'laans.

Assumption Mission (CMIP) is committed to support indigenous people's initiative for self-determination and empowerment.This diocesan IP apostolate is being run by the Passionist Fathers and Brothers of the Province of the Passion of Christ.  Its main office is located at St. Paul of the Cross Novitiate, Lagao, Gen Santos City, Philippines.  DAD BULOL in the B'laan dialect literally means "the mountains"  These are the places where most of the indigenous people under this apostolate live.

It was in February of 1958 when a nine-man delegation of American Passionist missionaries arrived in this southern part of the Philippines.  At that time, the high migration influx of settlers from the northern and central parts of the country gradually drove the indigenous people away from the lowlands.  Responding then to the latter's plea "to come and help our people" these Passionist pioneers, pretty soon, chose IP ministry as one of their treasured apostolates.

Presently, the Filipino Passionists continue to carry on what the original missionaries had begun.  And the scope of this apostolate has even expanded quite significantly through the years - from the original two IP communities in the early 1960's to the more than fifty (50) mission communities scattered all over the mountains of South Cotabato and Sarangani provinces.

Together with its mission partner,HANDS (Health Assistance and Neighborhood Development Support), Assumption Mission has been engaged in the following concerns in one way or another:

  • evangelization
  • IPs education both formal (thru its mission schools) and non-formal
  • livelihood programs
  • provision of potable drinking water
  • medical and health programs
  • promotion of sustainable agricultural practices
  • environmental protection
  • preservation of IP culture
  • scholarship program for deserving IP students - elementary, high school and college levels

For your comments and suggestions, do write us at Mâ Bleelá