PUERTO PRINCESA CITY-- Five Indigenous Peoples' (IP) groups participated in the first Roxas Indigenous Peoples Tribal Games held in northern Palawan Friday in an effort to preserve their traditional games and bring them closer to the government.
Representatives of the Batak, Tagbanua Tandulanen, Cagayanen, Agutaynen, and Cuyunon peoples, all residing in Roxas town in the northern part of the province, joined the Games that featured archery in an assault course and recreational tree climbing using rattan fibers.
Guest of honor, the Western Command's (WESCOM) Maj. Gen. Raul del Rosario, said their support for the IPs of Palawan is part of their mandate to help preserve cultural and traditional recreational games.
"We are happy with the success of this event. Our utmost support to our Indigenous Peoples is part of our mandate to help them maintain and continue the customary games that are part of how their everyday life was shaped," del Rosario told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
Lt. Col. Danilo Facundo, commanding officer of the 4th Marine Battalion Landing Team (MBLT 4) that facilitated the tribal games, said the customary sports and games activity also hopes to "create a condition for the IPs where they will feel the services of the local government, bring them closer to the mainstream of the community, and get them far from being prone to exploitation".
From morning to afternoon, the five IP groups played traditional games and presented cultural songs and dances.
The Cuyunons, an indigenous group sometimes referred to as the "elite class among the hierarchy of native PalaweAos", rendered the 'pinundo-pondo' dance to music supplied by a flute-and-drum ensemble.
The Batak mountain people likewise presented a cultural dance done on smoldering pieces of chopped wood.
These traditional activities, which are not often seen, are what makes the event distinctive, said Mayor Angela Sabando.
"The municipal government of Roxas is very supportive of any activity that would bring our IPs closer to the consciousness of the rest of the people here. We need to support them, make them feel they are not separated, and give them the services they need so they would continue caring for their culture and traditions," Sabando said.
Batak resident Antonia Analo, 53, who resides in the neighborhood of Tagnipa in Roxas, was unable to contain her excitement upon seeing a relative join the archery competition.
The game called for the use of a handmade bow and arrow, which the contestants had to land on a round, yellow mark on a target stand.
Analo, who wore a hair band with tiny pink and white plastic tied to it, was calling out to her relative in their Batak dialect.
"Don't fail! Hit that yellow mark! Get a good grip on your bow!" she cried out amid the spectators and members of the MBLT 4 who were assisting the IP participants.
Analo said she was happy to visit the People's Park, the venue of the tribal games, as she and her family seldom go there to join the merriment.
"This is a happy place, and we are happy to come down and join," she told PNA.
Come June, when the Baragatan Festival 2017 is celebrated again, they will once more participate in a province-wide tribal games, said del Rosario.
"We will join them with other IPs from southern Palawan in the Baragatan (Festival)," he said.
The Tribal Games was jointly organized and supported by the WESCOM through the MBLT 4 stationed in Roxas, the 3rd Marine Brigade, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the local government of Roxas, and the provincial government of Palawan.
The town of Roxas is located more than 86 km. from Puerto Princesa on the eastern coast of the island of Palawan. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency