Land Use and Management System - Indigenous People's Notion of Land

Land Use and Management System

A.1. INDIGENOUS PEOPLE’S NOTION OF LANDIndigenous people believe that land was granted to them by Kabunyan and entrusted to them to harness, to cultivate and develop, to take care, sustain and patronize. To them, private property is non existent because they adhere to the value of collectivism. In fact peaceful co-existence and harmonious relationship with nature defined the peoples role as stewards or guardians of the land.Since time Immemorial the indigenous peoples has been occupying the territory that they are presently in. Historical accounts show that even before the coming of the colonizers, the people were already in possession of the land. They have developed systems of how to exploit the resources within the land. They have built their permanent settlements, constructed their rice terraces, identified their territories from boundary to boundaries, and they were living peacefully. They have developed a culture that defined their actions, their behaviors, in order to survive.The IPs have already a notion of territoriality, a concept of land rights or what we now call as ancestral domain. They believed that the land was bequeathed to them by their ancestors and by Kabunyan.The Spaniards came and brought with them the Regalian Doctrine, i.e the land belong to the King, and the IPs were disenfranchised. The Americans came and introduced public land and resources laws that declared all lands in the Philippines as a public land. All the lands belonging to the Ips have become virtually alienable and disposable. Because they have no concept of land ownership, except that the land is communal, the Ips became squatters of the public land because they have no paper titles to prove their ownership. Their native titles recognized by their ancestral law is not recognized by the government.An IP territory and land rights is defined according to the extent of development that an IP has exerted into a particular resource, i.e. the extent to which one community had built their rice fields, set up their permanent hunting traps and the frequency in the hunting area, the first to tap water from a mountain spring to irrigate their ricefields, the extent to which pasture land were used continuously by the community, and the improvements made by the same community in swidden gardens in the forest. All these give the people prior rights to the territory that they have traditionally occupied and exploited.Territorial boundaries (beddeng) take the form of mountain ridges, rivers, creeks, ditches, stone wallings, trees that are intentionally planted to serve as boundaries. It is along such territorial markers that conflicts arise when other groups try to interfere with the use of these resources. Recent cases of conflicts among people has been recorded, especially those that are related to boundaries in the exploitation of pasture land, water sources for irrigation, mineral resources, arable lands, etc.In the upland communities, natural resources that are recognized as functional to the welfare and survival of the village include, among others, the following:forest and forest productswater from mountain springs for irrigation and household needsrives for fishing, rituals sites, and tapped for irrigationswidden land for food productionpasture land for grazing carabao and cows and horsesmineral land for the extraction of gold, copper and silverclay for local potteriesterraced land for rice productionresidential land.Of these resources available, agricultural land and water vital for household consumption and irrigation of the rice terraces and fields, are of important consideration by the IPs. Water from a mountain spring is a free commodity but subject to certain tenurial rules prescribe by the people. Such tenurial rules are patterns of behavior that specifically serve to control a society’s use of environmental resources (Brett; Crocombe).There are three classification of land rights (Brett), namely: (1) communal land rights, (2) corporate land right, and (3) individual land rights. In communal land rights, all members of a village have equal right to exploit the forest for lumber, firewood, forest products, and to hunt, subject to customary communal law. Corporate rights are those rights to common land belonging to a descent group, a family or to a ward. (e.g. muyong, tayan, pinugo, etc.). Individual rights are those rights which have been devolved to individuals such as rice terraces, residential lots, and hillside tree lots.A.2. Traditional uses of landThe indigenous people of Atok have different uses of buday, land. They used the land as pan-umaan (kainginngarden), panduktu-an (camotal land), panpageyan or panpayewan (rice land), panbedeyan/panbe-eyan (residential land), panpastolan (pastureland), dovok (burial ground), pan-anupan (hunting ground), pangaiwan or kidjowan (lumber source for firewood and house construction materials), and many other uses.A.3. Concept of ownershipThere are different notions or ways of acquiring possession to a piece of land in Atok. One acquires the land by tawid, inheritance, i.e. he inherits a piece of lot from his parents or grandparents. These types of land are usually binalyan or saad, residential lots or farm lots like uma or the payew. Kinaba ja inub-obdam is another way of acquiring land if one works and improves a piece of land. The purchase of land (bakal ni buday) can be done when one buys the land improvement or claim of another. It can also be by barter when one exchanges or swaps his property with animals to be used as ritual requirements in offerings to the ancestors.When one acquires a piece of land as a tawid, i.e. an inheritance, the person is expected to work on it and then pass it on as inheritance to his next of kin. Never will he sell or dispose of it freely on his own lest he will be chastised for not observing the tradition. Some of the Ibalois still believed that this belief still operates among the older folks of the community. However, many claimed that there are inherited properties or other properties for that matter that are being transferred to other individuals or institutions when these are the subject of collateral in the securing loans. Possession of an inherited rice field was transferred to another after a long time of not being able to repay a pig that was used during a lado or life crisis ritual. Likewise, the inability to repay a loan from the bank caused the foreclosure of an inherited property that was used as collateral.A.4. Conservation strategies employedThe natives of atok have different traditional ways of maintaining, conserving, or improving their land resources. The most common ways of conserving or improving their properties could be by planting trees in sloping areas to prevent erosion, or by making panad (terraces) with tuping (riprap), kadkad or baok (lot boundaries), or the installation of alad (fence). Others plant maguey, kawayan (bamboo) or grass paleng; others place atol or boundaries. For still others, they make kulukol (aqueducts) to prevent water from washing off the topsoil.A.5. Rituals involved related to land use The ibalois and kankanaeys of atok believed that the land they intend to occupy or develop may be occupied by spirits, particularly the ampasit. For this reason the people performed some rituals before cultivating the land, building a house, or doing any improvement in an area. The most common ritual performed is the buton or divination. This can be done by butchering a chicken and making an augury of its liver and gall bladder to find out if the proposed activity is favored or not by the spirit, otherwise the activity is abandoned. One may just simply recite a madmad (prayer) asking for permission to perform the acitivity. Others resort to the offering of pig sacrifice, esapuan das busaang, to gain the favor of the spirits. In Naguey, Pasdong and Poblacion, some informants mentioned that for newly improved rice fields, pigs are butchered and sometimes the gongs are played so that the pagey (rice) will always be robust and mabsil, i.e. laden with grains.

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