Manila, Philippines – The National Museum is now finalizing the declaration of Apu Mamalu Burial in the tribal Barangay of Mikasili, Damulog, Bukidnon as a National Cultural Treasure. "It's on the 3rd of our list for approval after Maribojoc Church of Bohol, and Manila Metropolitan Theater in Manila" an update made by Angel Bautista, Curator from the National Museum today to LRC-KsK. Maribojoc Church and Metropolitan Theater are classified as important cultural property as enshrined in the R.A. 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 1999 which will protect cultural property against exportation, modification or demolition added by Bautista.
The recent industrial developments in areas of Mindanao have endangered the lives and the very existence of various tribes in Mindanao, especially for the Manobo tribe in Bukidnon. Located in the area of Barangay Mikasili, Damulog, Bukidnon, is the centuries old sacred burial site of Apu Mamalu, the supreme ancestor of the Menovu, T'duray and other Lumad tribes in Mindanao. He was the brother of Apo Tabunaway, the ancestor of the Moro tribes. The burial site is one of the sacred sites affected by the proposed Mega dam project in Bukidnon which will submerge at least 23 villages of the Menuvo tribe in Souther Bukidnon.
According to oral traditions, Tabunaway and Mamalu were Menovu brothers. The former being the skillful forest gatherer and recognized as the Datu while the latter led the fishing chores of the village. The Manobos occupied the lower valley of the Pulangi River in Central Mindanao, which is Cotabato City. In the 14th century, a Muslim missionary Shariff Kabungsuan, arrived and propagated Islam in Mindanao. Tabunaway was converted into the Islam faith while Mamalu remained with the Manobo tribe. Mamalu then moved into the highlands of the Pulangi river because he did not want to be converted. The Mamalu clan then became known as the Manobo, while the Tabunaway clan became the Maguindanaos.
The cause of deaths of Apo Mamalu and Apo Tabunaway were unknown. But tribal leaders from then up to now, believe that Apo Mamalu was buried in a Stonehenge-like formation, with hundreds of burial rocks and located near the riverbank of the Pulangi River.
The Manobo tribe considers this site sacred, the root of their existence and the foundation of their culture. Recently, the tribal communities initiated a tribal declaration to publicly announce the cultural and historical importance of this site. Moreover, such public declaration established the fact that the Manobo tribe has considered the site as a sacred ground, the need to protect the root of their culture and existence is essential.
The LRC-KsK/Foe, being a strong advocate for the Indigenous Peoples rights and welfare believes that such conditions mentioned above will not only be detrimental and tragic to the at least 23 communities but will also annihilate beyond point, the culture, ancestry and homeland of the Manobo tribe.
Wilmar Ampuan, chair of NATABUK, inc (Federation of Southern Menuvu Tribe) said "This is what our traditional leaders have been longing for, such declaration from the government agency would greatly help in preserving the Menovu way of life, our root culture and our home. As the Apo Mamalu burial site is sacred and is forbidden in our culture from being transferred or desecrated, the declaration is one way recognition and protection our heritage as the proponent of the Mega Dam is now fast-tracking the social preparation of the project without respecting the traditional consent process of the IP in the areas".