Baytalabay Sungun: CSFI And IPMS Student’s Encounter

May 3, 2018 | ASCLA East, Fr. Rhoel Gallardo, Indigenous peoples

Maluso, Philippines. On April 21 to 25, 2018, with the joint effort of the IPMS (Indigenous People Mission in Saranggani) and the CSFI (Claret Samal Foundation Incorporated), the Summer Camp entitled Baytalabay Sungun (“Youth Encounter” in the Samal and Tagakaulo Dialect) between three different tribes, cultures, and religions became possible and took place in Maluso, in the island of Basilan.

The program begun with a Eucharistic Celebration followed by a Duwa’a – a beautiful symbol that reminds the participants that each encounter is an encounter with God. The entire day one focused on the introduction between the different tribes present and followed by an open forum where the pre-conceived ideas and stereotypes between the different cultures were raised and laid down to promote a deeper encounter. The second day was dedicated to the appreciation of one’s personhood. The two mountain tribes had their chance to know the real-life situation of the Bajaus through an immersion with the different Bajau families. The third aimed at the development of camaraderie between the tribes through an Amazing Race. The fourth day focused on the development of each participant’s self-esteem and confidence through Theater Arts, which also served as a preparation for the Cultural Night. The last day was spent at the beach the island of Taikila.

It was very symbolic that the people from the mountains (Blaan & Tagakaulo) came down and the people of the sea (Bajau) went back to shore to encounter each other. The summer camp did not focus on the differences. It has focused on strengthening one’s identity as a Tagakaulo, Blaan and Bajau and paved the way to the realization that other tribes exist, and they can learn many things from each other, and discover unity amidst diversity. The camp was a continuous reminder of the richness of our world – there is not a single culture that dominates it – it is composed of many cultures that are meant to complement each other. In our world today, soiled by the blood of many people who died because of tribal wars, of indifference between religions, of the idea that one’s culture and religion is best and all else is in error, our Congregation hopes that the Camp has created a ripple.




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