GETTING TO KNOW THE DUMAGATS IN DINAPIGUE, ISABELA

The Dumagats/Agtasin Dinapigue, Isabela is one of the 110 indigenous tribes in the Philippines.

The household and population count of Dumagats cannot be ascertained by local government agencies due to apparent absence of public documents connected to them. A number of them are nomads- finding their way to the remotest lands in themountainous part of northern Isabela. Some of them find livelihood through hunting and fishing. The total land area of Dinapigue covers 97000 hectares. 98% of which is forest land while the rest is residential. As such, it houses a wide variety of wildlife, both flora and fauna.

As nomads, Dumagats return to their respective home of origin whenever they feel the need to. Thiscycle of moving in and moving out often takes years. They construct their temporary dwellings in cooler or near water sources.  Due to the extreme drought brought about by El Nino, many Dumagats went out of the villages. Some have returned to claim their royalty and quarterly rice subsidy from Geogen Corporation.

Quarterly Rice Subsidy for Dumagats provided by Geogen Corporation

There are also some Dumagats who chose to live in cluster of homes isolated in the outskirts of villages. Houses are mainly built oneither concrete, or semi-concrete and light materials. Due to readily available and affordable home appliances, it is not a surprise to know that even the Dumagats own mobile phones, fishing boats as well as motorcycles. Men who used to wear the traditionalbahag are now sporting their pants and t-shirts.

There are three (3) Dumagats Organizations in Dinapigue; the Anggo group, which has 15 households, Dumagats in Barangay Dibulo have 15 househols, and Dumagats in Barangay Digumasedhave17 households. Each group is headed by a Chieftain. Majority of the Dumagats’ adult population are undereducated. Those whowere able to attend literacy classes can now write their names and affix their signatures. They have their own language but all of them can speak and understand both Tagalog and Ilocano.

 (AmayPilinganSanghay – Chieftain DibuloDumagats)

The schoolchildren from Barangay Ayod have to endure a five kilometer walk to reach the nearest primary school in BarangayBucal Sur. A school building donated by an NGO in partnership with the municipal government,is still yet to be completed.

( Dumagats schoolchildren from Barangay Ayod)

Scarcity on the availability of access to social services in Dinapigue is evident. It takes two and a half hours travel to Casiguran, Aurora taking into account the rough terrain just to get to the nearest hospital, pharmacy and bank- necessities for a developing community. As often as it may occur, one Dumagat mother asked assistance for a ritual for her sick child, believing doctor’s prescription will not suffice. The ritual required two candles, nine pieces of candies, six pieces of bread, two native chickens and a kilo of sticky rice amounting to Php 355.00. She wanted this amount deducted from her monthly Royalty. Respecting such Indigenous practice, the company decided to give what she requested.

Learning and appreciating the Dumagats indigenous knowledge, systems and practices (IKSP), and working, befriending and building partnership with them is imperative to say the least. Geogen Corporation is planning to conduct participatory workshop which aims to define the IP’s Development agenda in line with the RA 8371 or the Indigenous People’s Rights Act of 1997. Programs such as this shall be of utmost priority as the growing partnership between the Dumagats and Geogen Corporation continues to unfold.