The Higaunons’ Sayuda daw Buntola

by Kalayaan Anjuli D. Gatuslao

Sayuda daw Buntola is a Higaunon term that refers to a gathering of the Higaunons in order to discuss concerns, resolve issues and conflicts. For the past year, three gatherings were conducted in the areas of Sangalan in Gingoog City, Simbalan in Agusan del Norte and Pulangui Talugan in Bukidnon. The get together of Higaunons from different gaops and talugans signifies camaraderie that despite the political division amongst them, they still want to strengthen their tribe.

The Sayuda daw Buntola gathering in Amosig Talugan on August 15-18, 2007 at San Luis, Malitbog, Bukidnon was requested by Datu Manbayda Lipanta of Impahanong, Malitbog, Bukidnon amidst the insurgency and the presence of mining companies in the area. Previous research about the Higaunons corroborate that because of the various interest groups present among the tribal communities, it created a divide and conflict among them.

Invited guests Datu Limpukawan Ansihagan of Baliguihan, Datu Manlindahay Mandahinog of Kalipay, Datu Kalasi Mandahinog of Hinangdayan and Datu Duko Lidanhog of Sinakungan did a Pangagda, an act asking the host if they are permitted to come in, through a monologue, usually a medium employed when tracing the origin, called Dasang.

The Panubaga (response) comprising of Datu Mantangkilan Cumatang of Mintapod-Kilaang, Datu Mansampiton Sawalan of Siloo-Amosig and Datu Amomahan Pinaandel of Impadiding was executed by Datu Manggomboyan of Impahanong, Malitbog, Bukidnon (Amosig talugan) expressing that Amosig talugan was reigned by their ancestor Kasagayan. But to the present generation’s dismay, the rich Higaunon culture cannot be witnessed by the guests and tribal elders from other talugans because they did not practice nor upheld it. Symbols like manggad, a fine or a gift levied against a party, bungkatol ha bulawan, a golden rule where one should have a golden heart, or the unity of self to others, are seldom observed unlike before.

Singampo was done the next morning outside the grounds of San Luis Barangay Hall. It is a ritual invoking intercession of the Magbabaya and the spirits. Two pigs and five chickens were offered to the spirits. One ritual called Panlitub was performed wherein one chicken was offered (“Gilituban” o “Gibilango”) to the evil spirits in such a way that it is killed and buried. It signifies that bad elements or offenses of the ancestors before were pardoned so as not to affect the proceedings of the Sayuda daw Buntola.

Women, on the other hand, helped in the preparation. One was washing the plates in time for lunch, while the woman in the center was almost ready to cook rice. Although these women are not Higaunons but dumagats (coastal dwellers or migrants) but they also share their plight since they are living in the same territories.

The Mayor of Malitbog gave encouraging words to the Higaunons to continue these kinds of gatherings so as to strengthen their tribe. For the past nine years in government, he shared that he gives proper representation to the Higaunons. In fact, the Tribal Chieftain of Malitbog has been recognized in Bukidnon especially if there are cultural gatherings. He also hoped that the support given by Balay Mindanaw to MIHICU will not wane as he also cited his disappointment to some NGOs who used to work in the area and just disappeared after the project implementation has been done.

After the Mayor’s visitation, the Panampulot took place. Higaunons gathered around the mat filled with cooked chickens, pigs and rice along with ritual paraphernalias.

The pigs which were contributed by BMFI and RCED as part of the Sangka were offered to Amosig talugan as they carry the laws and customs of their ancestor Lumabyong, covering the area of Mt. Kimangkil and Kilaang. They cited that there were no conflicts before, just now. Felix Vergara also shared the beginnings and roots of the Mindanao Higaunon Cumadon (MIHICU), which was declared during the Dumalongdong held at Kiudto, Hagpa, Impasugong, Bukidnon. The objectives of the MIHICU are:

  •     To strengthen Higaunon ties among the 4 provinces and 8 talugans
  •     To gradually resolve conflicts
  •     To improve relationships among the tribal council in the barangay and municipal level
  •     To support livelihood
  •     To strengthen the support of the support groups and different agencies, both the government and NGOs

If you are a datu, you have to have the four elements which are: gaop (equivalent to barangays), people and territory.

One of the concrete highlights in this activity was the organization and identification of important matters in the conduct of the activity as it gives guidance and discipline to key players and support groups alike. Balaud are part of the social control mechanism for the maintenance of order and harmony in the Higaunon society, it is also chiefly a religious law.


  1.     Do not be envious amongst your fellow Higaunons.
  2.     Obey and Respect the ininay and inamay.
  3.     The host should be prepared always when there are Sayuda daw Buntola gatherings.
  4.     It is the obligation of the parents to teach their children the ways of the tribe.
  5.     One should show an act of generosity or goodness of heart when someone seeks your help. (Shared inner mobility)
  6.     Sumpuon ug tagaan sa pagtagad ang kasukwahi sa karaan nga gisabutan.
  7.     Be united.
  8.     Proper invitation should be given by the host to those who would join the gathering.
  9.     Conflict resolution practices should be practiced or continued in each talugan.
  10.     Laws (Balaud) should have corresponding punishments if not conformed to.
  11.     Tamdan ang gipamigolan ug ang namigol, ipahibalo ngadto sa ginsakopan.
  12.     Avoid inter-gaop conflicts, especially boundary conflicts.
  13.     Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages.
  14.     Let alone the ininay and inamay speak. Do not interrupt.
  15.     A datu or tribal leader/elder should practice humility.
  16.     Second liners should be trained to be adept and conscious in upholding their culture.
  17.     A resolution should be passed protecting Mt. Kimangkil, considered holy and sacred for the Higaunon, from various interest groups.
  18.     Guests during the gathering should come on time.
  19.     Respect the values, symbols, and Balaud [culture] of the Higaunon. Those who will not conform will be rebuked.
  20.     xxx. Sangka should not be blamed in the proceedings during the Sayuda daw Buntola.

The talugan situationer among tribal elders was also a major highlight which was shared after the ritual. Among the talugans present were the Amosig, Baliguihan and Sinakungan. In Amosig alone, CADT application is still pending because of some disagreements between Datu Bukinda and Datu Mansaysayan. Meanwhile, the ongoing CADT application of Datu Balitongtonga is still experiencing problems of its own since he didn’t undergo a consensus with the people of Amosig. Also, a certain Man-iyanan was in hiding because of a theft case filed against him. He was asked to report to the municipal hall monthly but he wasn’t able to do so, thus he was labeled as a wanted fugitive of the law.

In Baliguihan, Datu Limpukawan Ansihagan expressed dismay over the land conflict confronting some people in the area. Although it has not resulted into killings, there is a deep and silent conflict among them. He shared that the ancestors before didn’t experience land conflict, and he is wondering why it is happening now.

In Sinakungan, Datu Duko Lidanhug articulated the political rivalry between Mankombati Manpatilan and Lilang. They all agreed that they will not take sides if one asks support from the elders.

At the end of the third day, Felix Vergara and Benny Cumatang presented the territorial map for validation which was plotted out during the IP OP Kors! early this year at the Balay Mindanaw Peace Center. Almost all datus agreed to discuss further the territories except Tatay Meloy who contradicted since this is not the right place and right time to disclose it. He suggested that it should be done in Sinakungan, Esperanza, Agusan del Sur.

Because of the constant divide, datus alike expressed their disappointment during the Sayuda daw Buntola over the issue on the waning of cultural awareness, that some datus disregard the ways of the tribe, how their tribe resolves conflicts, maintain peace, conducts rituals and other cultural practices. The key leaders urged everybody to unite and to continue strengthening the ties and build relationships among each talugan. With the situation at hand, the elders and leaders foresee the need to train second liners to be adept and conscious in upholding their culture and creating a peaceful community. In this way, second liners will be ready for the challenges that are awaiting them and for the tribe in the near future.