Manobo tribesmen making a difference

Manobo tribesmen making a difference

By Anthony S. Allada

Palm oil, Jatropha, high-valued timber specie and mongo plants abound in the homeland of Manobo tribesmen in La Paz and Talacogon municipalities in Agusan del Sur.

These places were once forested areas surrounded by hilly ridges and rivers with only some trees and basic crops existed in the past.

This time, thousands of palm oil trees with a multi-cropping of high-valued timber specie, mongo and Jatropha, are making the place a productive one, improving the lives of the indigenous peoples there.

Datu Bunanat Francisco O. Hernandez, Manobo Tribe Administrator, said their efforts and initiatives are long-term and that they are not only doing it simply for livelihood purpose but to “secure our people and preserve our culture and rich natural resources.”

Hernandez, who married Bae Merlin Coguit, the heir of the legendary Manobo leader Datu Hawadon Tagleong Coguit, is taking things in the right place as he is now applying what he has learned from his studies abroad.

He established diplomatic ties with foreign investors whom he was able to convince to partner with the Datu Tagleong Group of Companies in doing business in their place.

“We have our vast farm lands and our foreign counterparts will provide the technical aspect. The very good thing here is we have established the trust between us,” he said, adding the entire Manobo tribe living in the area would benefit such healthy partnership.

Hernandez cited their new project scheme where their company will provide mango seedlings to be planted to the farm lands tilled by their fellow Manobo tribesmen. These people will not be relocated but they would still stay there until those mango trees matured and bear fruits. “They themselves are the ones who can harvest them.”

While it is into international business involving high-value crops, the Tagleong company remains to be environmentally-responsible, assures Hernandez.

Aside from this, the Datu Tagleong Group of Companies is never remiss of practicing its corporate social responsibility since it built a school for day-care pupils and has student scholars in college, high school and elementary levels.

“This is our way of educating more Manobo tribesmen,” Hernandez said.

Barangay Captain Rosendo Tagleong, Bae Merlin’s nephew, is also there to see to it that they have the pertinent documents in complying the requirements of government agencies like the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), local government unit, among others. (ASA)



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