BUNAWAN, Agusan del Sur - If any ethnic group would claim that their life has started to reap the fruits of their sacrifices, it is the estimated 7,000 Manobo tribesmen in this town and neighboring areas of Agusan del Sur.
The Manobo couple-members of the Bunawan Manobo Ancestral Domain Management Council, Inc. (BMADMCI) have started to earn a living, and have become productive in their highland communities.
The men already received training on how to increase their farm and agricultural production, starting a sago business, animal dispersal and other livelihood projects such as serving as guides for the tourists, both foreign and local, who are on tour at the amazing and majestic Agusan Marsh.
Some Manobo tribesmen are also producing fish nets and street light posts.
While the wives of the BMADMCI male members also have separate livelihood programs.
They are mostly into making bags, sandals, tissue holders, headbands, money and jewelry boxes, customized boxes, and several household needs made of water lilies.
They are also into making beads and other handicraft.
The tribal leaders of the BMADMCI, who are closely supervised and guided by the councils' adviser, Elvira G. Catuburan, the chief of the Technical Management Services Division of the National Communities on Indigenous People (NCIP), are still looking for other income-generating projects like social services, livelihood potentials, and forest development and management.
It was learned that two of the tribal Manobo leaders recently arrived a study tour in Honan Province, China, just to secure vital ideas for additional livelihood projects.
Practically, the royalty share of the ancestral domain claims given to them by the PhilSaga Mining Corporation (PSMC) here is very vital in the tribe's new way of life.
As this developed, Manobo tribal leaders expressed their heartfelt gratitude to PSMC President (Retired) Army Colonel Samuel G. Afdal for his untiring support to them.
"Ms. Catuburan helped us a lot, and in fact, we can now send our children to school," said Mambalili Manobo tribal chieftain Crispin A. Barrios Jr. in the vernacular.
The eight-man tribal leaders of the BMADMCI are eyeing to have a Manobo heritage hospital here for their medical needs, likewise schools for the tribal kids where they can accommodate the indigenous curriculum.
Meanwhile, the recently completed P10.2 million two-storey Bayoy Tigumanan Tu Mango Manobo (Bunawan Manobo Heritage Center) at Purok 7 in Barangay San Teodoro here is also a big help to the tribes' income generating project.