It's sad that the Bagobo tribe, specifically the Tagabawa -- accordingly has been made an extinct tribe. The reason is that no one at this time and age has continued to uphold its culture and dialect. The current generation Bagobo Tagabawa has turned its back on its roots and origin.
Most young Bagobos today are embarrassed to admit their heritage. I don't understand because at every opportunity, I declare to all and sundry that I am of a Bagobo Tagabawa descent -- my mother is a full-bloodied Bagoba, the daughter of a Bagobo Tagabawa and a Bagoba Tagabawa.
Although my father is a pure-bred Kapampangan, I have spent a few years of my childhood in the midst of the Tagabawa tribe and I have a good grasp of their culture and I understand every bit of the dialect -- I may not be able to speak it through and through but I do understand.
When my mother died, I knew we all were gonna lose our connection with her roots -- we might even forget the dialect. So I would try to preserve the culture and dialect of the Bagobo Tagabawa by featuring them in this blog. Everything in here would be from my own experience growing up with the tribe and from the stories of my grandmother and my mother.
The first generation Bagobo Tagabawa are proud people, intelligent and courageous people -- ready to kill for their family and their honor.
I understand that there are other groups of Bagobos -- the Guiangans or Clatas, and the Ubos. Sad to say, we Tagabawas and the others, though under the same Bagobo tribe, cannot understand each other. There maybe a few common words in the dialect but not enough to completely understand one another. The truth is, I have no idea about the customs of the other Bagobo communities -- I have never met one of them. That is why, it would do all groups a lot of good if people do not call them Bagobo in general or if they tell people themselves that they belong to this particular Bagobo group.
I take umbrage with one particular episode of the show Maalaala Mo Kaya entitled "Gong" which featured the "Bagobo" tribe. I do not blame the show for the discrepancies in it, though they should have made a thorough research to get the facts right. And the letter-sender should have correctly identified the Bagobo community from which his wife comes from because just saying Bagobo is unfair to the other groups.
Why am I offended by the episode?
"Bumaba sa patag para magpalimos"
A Tagabawa never begs or resorts to mendicancy -- never namamalimos ang mga Bagobo Tagabawa! When someone says Bagobo, it embraces all groups so to say that the episode is about the Bagobos and they establish that these indigenous people ay namamalimos is offensive to us Tagabawas. The letter-sender is young -- his wife must be a 3rd generation Bagoba. If she does not know that there are other groups of Bagobo, then she does not know her tribe well.
Tagabawas are proud people. Even the slaves do not beg for food. My mother use to tell me about one al-lang (slave) -- the only living al-lang left after the war -- he lives in an obscure part of my uncle's large estate or my grandfather's large estate under the administration of my uncle. The al-lang bothers no one, he keeps to himself, and when kids happen to meet him on the road, he takes another route. He tills the land for his food... and never begs.
I was concerned that it was a Tagabawa who carelessly sent her "life story" to the show but upon intently listening to the "dialect" and did not understand a word (maybe because of the WORST accent ever), I knew it was not from a Tagabawa.
"Magpapakasal ka sa isang Bagobong babae! Paano mo maipagmamalaki ang Bagobong iyan?"
First of all -- our women are called BAGOBA.
Second -- if the problem of maipagmamalaki involves the physical look -- let me say here that the Bagobo Tagabawas I know are not plain and homely. Let's start with my mother. She has a flawless fair skin, wavy black hair, beautiful deep set eyes, and well-shaped nose. That is why a man from Luzon who has left behind pretty girlfriends in Pampanga becomes enamored with her and has opted to marry her.
My mother's eldest brother was tall and robust, with a handsomely chiseled features. Another brother broke so many hearts when he went to school in the city (patag -- as the show kept repeating). Yes... my uncle (a Bagobo Tagabawa) went to school in the city in the early 50's. And yes -- civilization had crept into the Bagobo Tagabawa tribe that early... and please -- weddings were no longer officiated by tribal chieftains even way back then!
Now -- if the problem is the "smart factor" -- let me tell you this. My mother was born and raised in the Bagobo Tagabawa environment and married a Kapampangan who did not speak any other dialect and who refused to learn the Bagobo dialect. To bridge the communication gap, she learned Kapampangan and in a few months, was speaking Kapampangan like a native speaker. If that is not smart, what is?
My cousin, as handsome as his father, became a sought-after bartender in a luxury ship before he retired. Another uncle topped his class in school but unfortunately died after the war. He would have become a good lawyer. Yes -- Bagobo Tagabawas have ambitions, too!
Again -- weddings as far back as 1950's are already officiated by priests in churches and licenses are applied for a few weeks before the ceremony -- much like what's required today. Hellooo...!!!
The letter-sender and his wife are a young couple. I assume they have gotten married somewhere in 80's or 90's? Married by a tribal chieftain? In full Bagobo regalia? I don't think the Guiangans or Ubos are that backward! Or are they still practicing their wedding customs?
Well.. as I said I have no idea how the other communities do their thing -- but it still is absurd! If we Tagabawas have moved on with the times, I would assume they too would have kept up.
The rice paddies
The characters keep saying "patag" and keep referring to their home as the "bundok." I may need to check on my geography because I might have missed something. What I know is that planting rice in the "bundok" does not involve rice paddies -- that is why the rice is called "upland rice" in contrast to "lowland rice" planted in rice paddies. And I know that Bagobo Tagabawas are indigenous people of Davao and where they inhabit, there are no rice paddies. But as I said, I'll have to check on that.
Well... I could go on and on and on -- but I get comfort from the fact that the show might be right for I am not exactly familiar with how the other Bagobo tribes live -- we may have similarities such as the custom of giving dowry for marriages -- but based on the MMK show, I hope the similarity ends there!
If some indigenous people want to showcase their culture on TV -- I hope they make sure they don't come off as second class citizens!!