KAPALONG, Davao del Norte (PIA) -- Thirty-one members of the Ata-Manobo tribe who reportedly ran away from the Haran compound in Davao City last Saturday (May 18) have returned home, arriving on Tuesday (May 21) afternoon.
Taking almost a three-hour trip on a dump-truck of the local government of Kapalong, and riding through winding roads with concreted and rough portions, the 31 reached their homeland at Sitio Tiabong in Barangay Gupitan, an upland village in Kapalong.
They were accompanied by Kapalong Indigenous People's Mandatory Representative Datu Arturo Dabao, representatives from the Municipal Information Office of Kapalong and from the Municipal Social Welfare Development Office, the Department of Education Kapalong District, the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Davao del Norte Information Center, and the 60th Infantry Battalion.
The homecoming of the 31, who comprised six families with 21 children and 10 adults, ignited cheers from their fellow tribesmen as they passed through Sitio Lunoluno whose residents had been informed of the return of their neighbors.
Datu Dabao revealed that a ritual was held earlier on the same day of the homecoming, at Sitio Lunoluno to appease the spirit of a tribal chieftain who was allegedly killed by members of the New People's Army due to his refusal to go with the "bakwits" of the nearby sitio.
"Sila man gud tong nahimong hinungdan nganong gipatay tong datu. (They were the reason why that datu was killed)," Datu Dabao told PIA while on the way to Sitio Tiabong.
"Aron makalabang sila sa dapit, kinahanglan naay ritwal nga pagahimoon agig pakig-uli. (So they could pass through the place, a ritual needed to be performed for reconciliation)," he added identifying the datu as Datu Binandao Maugan.
Upon reaching Sitio Tiabong, the 31 were greeted by fellow villagers led by Datu Lambid Tiklunay who thanked Kapalong Mayor Ma. Theresa Timbol for facilitating the safe return of his tribe folk.
Tribal elders and other community leaders then banded together along the road where the 31 disembarked from the dump-truck, and they grouped around the visitors.
Datu Dabao relayed Timbol's jubilation for the homecoming of the tribe members from Haran in Davao City, and asked community leaders to accommodate those who were returning home.
DepEd Kapalong District representative, Leigh Jay Cubar, brought them the news that DepEd will be setting up two makeshift school buildings for kinder pupils, and for Grade I to Grade IV students.
"Naa nay klase dinhi karong June 3. (Classes will start here on June 3), " he said.
Datu Tiklunay assured the visitors accompanying his tribe members that the leaders and elders will make sure that community members won't fall prey again as "bakwit" recruits. (PIA-XI)