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Rico C. Ancog, Prima R. Silvestre, Carmelita M. Rebancos, and Dazzle R. Labapis

Historical analysis on the impacts of institutional support provided for by a
religious group in collaboration with a foreign-funded non-governmental
organization to the Sepuyo Alangan-Mangyan of Mindoro was conducted to
evaluate its effects and impacts in relation to the improvement of their capability
towards environmental management. Data were obtained from the Alangan-
Mangyan community using key informant interviews and participant observation.
Alangan-Mangyans have rich indigenous knowledge, beliefs, practices, and
rituals in relation to their way of living, farming systems and in managing the
environment long before any attention was given to them by various institutions.
The external institutional support given by those organizations led to major
cultural changes to the Mangyan community. It not only resulted to favorable
impacts, but also brought up unintended negative effects that changed the
community’s way of living, specifically in managing their environment. What we
have learned was that any assistance or support from outside institutions, GO’s
and NGO’s given to the Mangyans must be done in a sensitive manner and must
be granted with vision—in the framework of true understanding of indigenous
people’s culture; ensuring its preservation, and giving them benefits that they
truly need and deserve.


Background of the study

Institutions’ support is a packaged of materials and services that are

afforded to a certain group for them to be able to achieve a certain set of

objectives. It can be in a form of material gifts, technology transfer, technical and

financial assistance, and others. The objectives of these support is wide-ranging

but many of which is for the improvement of local capacity specifically for

environmental management as a strategy for contributing towards sustainable

development. These supports and multilateral agreements will also help to meet

the collective obligations of both the recipients and the implementers.

Specifically, in the Philippines setting, the Indigenous peoples have been

the focus of several institutional supports particularly on poverty alleviation and

in enhancing their resource base. Several programs and projects were created for

the IP’s in relation to their way of living and conserving the environment,

believing that these supports can further help these peoples in developing the

needs to conserve indigenous knowledge systems and practices related to

biodiversity. Recognizing and supporting the crucial role of indigenous peoples in

biodiversity conservation, significant policies, agreements and regulatory

frameworks were crafted and institutionalized at the international level, such as

the: Convention on Biodiversity, Agenda 21, International Labor Organization

169, Intellectual Property Law, and UN Draft Declaration on the Rights of

Indigenous Peoples.

Although these people can be seen in the areas where there are rich

resources and policies were created for them by the government, different and

continuing problematic issues of powerlessness, deprivation from access to their

land and resources, lack of knowledge due to lack of education, insufficient

income, and alienation from kin/clan and their culture --- some of the key

indicators of poverty, were continuously being faced by indigenous peoples.

Castro (2003) reported that many Protected Area Superintendents (PASUs) have

failed to recognize the role of indigenous peoples in biodiversity conservation. It

can possibly be due to the fact these foresters do not have the full understanding

on the way IP’s live their life. They know how to manage flora and fauna but they

were not able to fully obtain the right way and the sensitivity to deal with these

indigenous peoples.

Abadiano (2004) emphasizes how indigenous people chart their own progress

in which the problems confronting IPs have become more complex, such that it has

now become more than just a matter of developing and giving the right kind of

education program to benefit them. Other issues that bear upon IP life, culture, and

survival have sprung up in recent years as a result of national and global

developments. Land rights, security of tenure, and access to resources appeared to be

essential variables affecting biodiversity conservation when indigenous peoples and

communities are concerned. Cairns’ (1995) study (as cited in the Capacity

Assessment for the Preservation and Maintenance of Biodiversity-Related Knowledge

of Indigenous and Local Communities) yielded empirical evidence that indigenous

communities’ participation in protected areas is an effective strategy in the protection

of national parks. “Granting their ancestral land claims, contingent to conservation-

related activities, would provide a rallying point for their revived sense of ethnic

identity and empowerment, and harness their initiative towards park protection.”

Generally, these are issues that require the immediate and concerted

attention of both government and civil society if IPs are to progress in their quest

for peace, justice, and development. Thus, external support is considered by many

as necessary.

Indigenous communities, contrary to what people think of them, have a

deep and intimate knowledge: their indigenous knowledge, born out of centuries

of constant interaction with the environment and handed down from generation to

generation. Ulluwishewa (1993) defined this knowledge as:

“Indigenous knowledge (IK) is local knowledge that is unique to a given

culture or society. It is the basis for agriculture, health care, food preparation,
education, environmental conservation and a host of other activities. Much of
such knowledge is passed down from generation to generation, usually verbally.
IK is the knowledge that people have gained through inheritance from their
ancestors. It is a people-derived science, and it represents people’s creativity,
innovations and skills.”

In view of the incredible complexity, diversity and specificity of plants

and animal’ habitats, such knowledge and skills are indispensable in evolving

responses to changing material conditions to preserve and enhance environmental

quality. Castro (2003) revealed that many policies, programs, and plans on

biodiversity conservation that are implemented by the government are based on

foreign models or those developed by technical experts. On the other hand, the

indigenous knowledge and practices on biodiversity conservation and

management have not been studied and documented nor have they been integrated

into existing programs and projects. It is for this reason that few of the

interventions from the national and international agencies respond to the social

need of the local people and often end up by doing more harm than good (Ghai,


However, though these supports is seen to bring in benefits to the recipient

community, it is worthwhile to analyze its impacts as to whether or not it

contributed towards the improvement of environmental management in the long-

run. This is of particular importance especially among indigenous peoples

community which has inherent cultural attributes that must be given careful

consideration in the determination, approaches and strategies of any projects or

programs to be implemented that directly concern them. Historical Analysis can

be one of the useful tools in tracing the possible cause(s) of these unintended

negative impacts. Historical analysis is a less separate analytical framework or

approach than it is an element that should be present in any kind of analysis.

Observing and analyzing changes over time is essential to understanding why an

event is the way it is. We cannot understand our present without understanding

our past. And we cannot fully imagine change without a sense of how our culture

has changed over time.

This paper aims to provide a historical analysis on the impacts of the

institutional support provided for by a religious group in collaboration with a

foreign-funded non-governmental organization to the Sepuyo Alangan-Mangyan

of Mindoro in relation to the improvement of their capability towards

environmental management.

Objectives of the study

The paper seeks to provide a historical analysis on the impacts of the

institutional support that has been extended by a religious organization (MIC

sisters) in collaboration with a foreign NGO (21st Century Association) to the

Alangan Mangyans in Sepuyo, Sta. Cruz, Occidental Mindoro. It specifically aims

to provide an overview on the belief systems, rituals, and other cultural practices

of the Alangan Mangyans in relation to their indigenous farming system (Kaingin

System) and to describe the resulting changes after the conventional and non-

conventional indigenous farming practices has been introduced.

Description of the study area

Occidental Mindoro is a province of the Philippines located in the

MIMAROPA region (Region IV-B). It is the western part of Mindoro with a total

land area of 5,879.8 sq. km. composing of 11 towns. Its capital is Mamburao and

occupies the western half of the island of Mindoro. Oriental Mindoro is at the

eastern half. The South China Sea is to the west of the province and Palawan is

located to the southwest, across Mindoro Strait. Batangas is to the North,

separated by the Verde Island Passage.

Figure 1. Location Map of Occidental, Mindoro Philippines

Occidental Mindoro has two distinct weather types: rainy season and dry

season. Rains begin to fall in the province in late May, intensifying through June,

July, August, September and October, and then gradually subside in November.

The months of August and September is the wettest period, with storms directly

passing through the area. On the other hand, dry season starts in November, with

rainfall subsiding in intensity, and altogether ceasing in January, February, March

and April. March and April are the driest period, with cloudless skies and parched

earth characterizing the general area.

Agriculture is basically the major industry in Occidental Mindoro,

holding the record of being the Southern Tagalog Region's leading rice producer.

Other major agricultural products that are likewise exported from the province

include coconut, corn, tobacco, garlic, mango, banana and peanut. Most of the

residents are also engaged in cattle and poultry raising, logging and fishing. The

famous "Mindoro Bangus" is produced in many fresh-water ponds, while its

offshore water teems with tuna, grouper and octopus.

There are also light industries like processing fruits, fish, prawns and

nuts, feed milling, gemstone and marble finishing, handicrafts, toys and gifts,

which make use of the province’s profuse and accessible resources

(, 2009).

Field Data Collection and Analysis

The main goal of this paper is the historical analysis on the impacts of the

institutional support that has been extended by a religious organization in

collaboration with a foreign NGO to the Alangan Mangyans in Sepuyo, Sta. Cruz,

Occidental Mindoro. The study employed the use of Historical Analysis as its

framework for data collection and analysis. Historical relevant information on the

environmental changes that have occurred in the area was gathered through the

use of key informant interview and participant observation. Key informant

interviews was used for the Sepuyo community household heads and community

leaders to determine their belief systems and rituals on their environment, their

farming practices and other economic activities were also solicited, as well as

cultural practices and perceptions on the environment. Castro (1994) defined

Participant Observation as a research technique of direct observation of family

and village live where the researcher stays in the community being studied for a

relatively long period of time. The aforementioned technique was used by the

researchers to gather majority of the data and observation from 1994-1997 and

data on the current situation of Sepuyo was gathered on February 2009 via

revisiting to the area.

Background on the Institutions’ Support Provider

Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (MIC)

The Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (MIC) is a religious

missionary institute which is Marian in character. The spirituality of the institute

bequeathed by their foundress Venerable Delia Tetreault is thanksgiving. The

MIC Sisters express their thanksgiving for the love of God through their

missionary apostolate. Based on an article written by Louise (2002) of the M.I.C.

Mission News, MIC started its mission in the Philippines when the first

missionaries of the Institute who left Canada went to China in l9O9. They

undertook services in the field of health care and education where their zeal and

dedication soon became widely known. In 1921, Dr Jose Tee Han Kee, a close

collaborator in their mission work, was named Director of the Chinese General

Hospital of Manila. He then requested the Archbishop of Manila to send M.I.C.

Sisters to assume the administration of the hospital. This facility was serving the

Chinese community which at that time numbered nearly 40,000.

Délia Tétreault responded favorably to the request. This newly found

mission was in line with her vision and missionary zeal particularly that of

reaching out first to those who had never known Christ and of serving the poor.

Five Sisters were assigned for this first mission in the Philippines. The friendship

that developed between the Sisters and the families of the patients initiated their

social work ministry. Home visitations and catechetical instruction brought about

a number of conversions.

The presence of the MIC Sisters in the Sepuyo community is through the

Vicariate Indigenous Peoples Apostolate (VIPA) or Mangyan Mission Apostolate

which was established in 1987. IPA’s prime role was to support the Mangyans in

the diocese, guide them in their growth as persons and believers, and assist them

in improving their livelihood. A team of Mangyan workers (MIC Sisters and lay

persons) are assigned to selected Mangyan communities in the parish and one of

these is Sepuyo.

The MIC Sisters in cooperation with the Holy Cross Parish and the

Provincial Government of Occidental Mindoro proposed a project to uplift the

economic well being of the Alangan Mangyans in Sepuyo by introducing

sustainable farming and livelihood activities. Under this scheme, Mangyan

farmers will be provided with proper farming techniques such as inter-cropping

and crop diversification methods to provide then additional income/livelihood.

This will make them stay in their lands and avoid the intrusion of lowlanders

(Tagalog) in their territory.

The 21st Century Association

The 21st Century Association is a non-government organization in 1990 at

Tokyo, Japan. It’s a charitable organization that promotes educational self-

sufficiency by providing financial support to children. The organization also

provides agricultural training and other educational programs.

In the province of Mindoro, its mission is to help the Mangyans through

education and human development activities. This association assists the MIC

Sisters in their missionary apostolate activities in Sta. Cruz, Occidental Mindoro

including Sepuyo.


The Sepuyo Alangan Mangyan Community

Mangyans belonging to the Alangan tribe inhabit the settlement site of

Sitio Sepuyo, Pinagturilan, Sta.Cruz, Occidental Mindoro and were said to be

long time residents of the said place. Sta. Cruz is one of the

municipalities of Occidental Mindoro. It has eleven barrages and

has an area of 48.41 square kilometres. The population as of

year 2000 is 26,887 and its income class is Class 3.

The community came from the interior mountains near Sepuyo and they

settled to Sepuyo. Formerly, they lived in a Mangyan community house (balay

lakoy), a barong-barong type that is made of indigenous materials. There were

more or less 20 families in the big house and they are arranged in a way that they

share an area (3x3 square meters) where they, eat, cook and sleep. One corner is

their cooking area and they call it ‘apuyan’ (fireplace) where there is a burning

wood in times that it is cold. There is a small pathway in the middle where hay

could pass. There is only one stair where they climb. Their house is made up of

local timber and cogon grass. Subsistence farming is the primary occupation of

the community. Bayabasan inhabitants cultivate an estimated 25 hectares of

farmlands. Occasionally, handicraft making is resorted to as a source of

livelihood. In summer, they revert to the traditional gathering of root crops in the

mountains. Their main food consists of rice, sweet potato, cassava, banana, and

wild yam (nami). Their source of drinking water is the nearby Sepuyo River.

The Mangyans in Sepuyo are incapable of providing themselves with

work animals, farm implements and other farming inputs. Sepuyo is not

accessible since road network is not available. The site can only be reached by

foot through a two hours hike from Amnay Bridge during summer. During rainy

season, the place can be reached by hiking through the mountain for four hours.

In terms of their clothing preferences, the male members of the Alangan

community wear their traditional dress which consists of a loincloth as a lower

garment. The women wear yakis and loin cloth used as wrap-around matched with

an upper garment made of bark of a tree just enough to cover the breasts. Their

Mangyan leaders strongly believe that their forefathers were the rightful owners

of the land and they want it to be awarded to them as rightful heirs. The

minorities, being closely interrelated with each other, prefer communal ownership

of the land to individual ownership.

Overview of the Alangan Mangyans

Figure 2. A typical Mangyan family.
Source: ( Silvestre, 2009)

Mangyan is a general term that refers to eight ethnolinguistic groups of

proto-malay origin: the Alangan, Bangon, Buhid, Hanunuo, Iraya, Ratagnon,

Tadyawan and Tau-buid, that occupies the mountainous region of Mindoro.

The Mangyans are the original inhabitants of Mindoro. Mindoro, being the

seventh largest Island in the Philippines, with two Provinces, Oriental and

Occidental, has a total population of one million. The Mangyan population is

estimated to be 10% of the total population or 100,000 Mangyans (Mangyan

Heritage Center, 2009). They are the indigenous peoples of Mindoro. Indigenous

Cultural Communities/ Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs) refer to a group of people

or homogenous societies identified by self ascription and ascription by others,

who have continuously lived as organized community on communally bounded

and defined territory, and who have, under claims of ownership since time

immemorial, occupied, possessed, and utilized such territories, sharing common

bonds of language, customs, traditions and other distinctive cultural traits, or who

have, through resistance to political, social, and cultural inroads of colonization,

non-indigenous religions and cultures or the establishment of present state

boundaries, who retain some or all of their own social, economic, cultural and

political institutions, but who may have been displaced from their traditional

domains or who may have resettled outside their ancestral domains. (NCIP

Administrative Order No. 3, Series of 2002). This definition further strengthens

how IP’s was defined in the IPRA law.

Mangyans, with its eight different languages and cultural traditions,

possess a rich and distinctive cultural and literary heritage. The Hanunuo

Mangyans inscribe notes and poems on bamboo trees in the forests or on bamboo

slats with the use of a pointed knife. These ambahans—written or recited in

poetic language—allegorically express situations or characteristics.

The Hanunuo and Buhid Mangyans make use of their artistic and creative

mind by weaving and embroidering their own traditional attire. The Iraya and

Alangan Mangyans skillfully weave nito and rattan into elaborate baskets. The

other groups also produce baskets, bags, hats, hammocks and other crafts made of

forest vines, and all the eight tribes practice beadwork. These are their main

source of livelihood (, 2007).

The Alangans, one of the Mangyan Ethnic groups, live in a wide area

around Mt. Halcon, occupying the northern part of both Occidental and Oriental

Mindoro provinces. Their population is estimated at approximately 47,580

(OSCC, 1987). The name “Alangan” is derived from a name of a river and

mountain slopes in the upper Alangan valley. The people in this group are

medium-built, round face and straight and long hair (for both men and women).

Their complexion is dark and their teeth are blackened because of their practice of

chewing betel nuts. Their economic life is primarily based on the upland

agriculture or kaingin system. They cut open the forest every year or two to make

new swidden sites. The term gado or "together" characterizes the local group.

These can be observe with their tradionally big houses called balay lakoy, each

composed of 3 to 20 nuclear families. It is the smallest socio-economic unit of the

Alangan society ruguoan. Property for the Alangan consists of the clothes,

necklaces, bolo, hatchet, medicine box, betel nut box, pigs, chickens, bananas etc.

The Alangan move every few years and the idea of private ownership of the land

have not emerged yet.

The women traditionally wear a lingeb. This is a kind of skirt made of

long strips of woven nito, and is wound around the abdomen. This is worn

together with a g-string cloth called abayen. The upper covering is called ulango,

made from the leaf of the wild buri palm. Sometimes, a red handkerchief or

bandana called limbutong is worn over the ulango. On the other hand, men wear

g-strings with fringes in front. Betel nut chewing, as mentioned earlier, is also

noted among the Alangans, like all other Mangyan tribes. This they chew with

great fervour from morning to night, saying that they do not feel hunger as long as

they chew betel nut. Exchange of betel chew ingredients is also a sign of social


Belief Systems and Rituals on the Environment Practiced by the

Alangan Mangyans

The Mangyans of Sepuyo believe in Divine Presence/God (“Kantam

Agalapet”) who is the source of all. They believe that rivers, trees and mountains

have their own spirits and have to be cared for and respected. For them, God is the

source of all, the provider of their needs and one who takes care of them. They see

life as something very precious and priceless. God gave them land for their

survival. Land and all its resources are owned by God and they only have the right

to use the land and its resources based on residence and kinship. They do not

understand the idea of private land ownership.

The Alangan Mangyans like other indigenous peoples practice rituals.

They have rituals before planting invoking for a good harvest as well as

thanksgiving for a good harvest. They have also rituals to know if a certain place

is good to build their house. This means that they will have no misfortune or


It is important for the Alangan Mangyans to pray by offering a pig or

chicken so that God will have mercy on them and will help them in any of their

problems and sickness. They make an offering at least once a year and call on

God for a bountiful harvest.

“Land is given to us by God that we may live. Do not quarrel about the

land. Do not be fierce because God will get angry. Work in your land for you to

live. Love your life. Have a big respect for the land. If others will steal from your

land, the land will not be productive. To remedy this, make an offering by

butchering a pig or chicken.”

The Alangan Mangyans are closely connected with their natural

environment. Their rituals are always accompanied by signs coming from the

environment. An example is if they have a poor harvest, they have to make an

offering by butchering a pig or chicken. They will use these as offerings in their

prayers led by their kuyay or elderly.

Environmental Management

Indigenous knowledge is a systematic body of knowledge acquired by

local people through accumulation of experiences, informal experiments and

intimate understanding of environment of a given culture. It includes a system of

classification and management that governs resource use. It is embedded in

community practices, institutions, relationships and rituals (Macandog, 2009).

People’s view of their relationship with nature is one of the most

important aspects of any strategy for environmental management. The Alangan

Mangyans have a unique way of relating to nature as shown in their beliefs and


Colby (1989) theorized that all human activity, economic and socio-

cultural take place in the context of certain types of relationships with the

biophysical world. Development necessarily involves a transformation of this

relationship. For instance, agriculture is a form of environmental management,

but the types of agriculture implemented may reflect very different underlying

conceptions of the relationship between nature and humans and what

environmental management means. As societies have evolved or developed so has

this relationship. Sometimes it evolved in ways that might be construed as

mutually beneficial and ecologically sustainable, at other times or places, people

extracted benefits by attempting to manage nature to improve their chances of

survival and quality of life, in ways which have reduced the ecological values and

capacities of local ecosystems to provide them in the future.

It is utmost important for the Alangan Mangyan people to manage their

environment very well. They believe that “land is life” because this is where they

get their raw materials, food, and all that they need for their subsistence. From

their land emanates their distinct and rich culture. These are part of their

indigenous knowledge systems and practices.

The environmental management strategy that the Alangan Mangyans

adapted has been their traditional agricultural practices. They practice the

“kaingin system” of farming which they have learned from their ancestors and

which they in turn continue to pass on to their young generation. They have a very

close affinity with nature and they understand nature.

Environmental Management Activities: Kaingin Farming,

Fishing and Forest Care

The Alangan Mangyans practice the Kaingin system or swidden

farming system. The Alangan Mangyans practise swidden farming, which

consists of eleven stages. Two of which are the firebreak-making (Agait)

and the fallowing (Agpagamas). A firebreak is made so the fire will not go

beyond the swidden site where the vegetation is thoroughly dry and ready

for burning. And two years after clearing, cultivation of the swidden is

normally ceased and the site is allowed to revert back to forest (Quiaoit,

1997 as cited in Mangyan Heritage Center website). If one will compare

this to a typical Kaingin type of farming, a typical Kaingin system is a six-

step process which involves (1) clearing of undergrowth shrubs and

grasses (2) cutting and felling of trees (3) separation and collection of

twigs and other vegetation and spreading it over the entire field to be dried

before burning (4) burning where fire walls are delineated to control the

spreading of fire (5) collection of twigs, wood and other materials not

burned and setting them for another round of burning (6) planting. The

cycle starts in January, burning is done in April and planting starts in May

or when rainy season begins since most of the crops are rainfed. Weeding

and thinning is done throughout the growth cycle of the crop (Vasquez,


Crops that they grow in their kaingin include annual crops such as

rice and corn, and perennial crops such as banana, coconuts and citrus.

Root crops and vegetables are planted together with perennial crops. The

cropping pattern starts with planting rice, corn and vegetables. A second

crop corn may be planted in December. Root crops such as cassava, sweet

potato, and ubi are planted after the harvesting of rice and corn.

Harvesting of rice is done sometime in October while corn is done in

August. Root crops maybe harvested anytime of the year, while banana

maybe harvested a year after planting and thereafter. Other vegetable

crops are also planted like squash and pipino.

During summer, when the water in the river is clear, they also

gather shells and fish from the river. Their way of fish harvest is to divert

the water to another river so that there is a part of the river that will dry up.

All the members of the community help in making the dam to divert the

water. They place wood and soil to make the temporary dam. The men

gather and fix the wood and the children and women carry sand or soil.

When the water is at a very low level, they catch the fish using their

baskets or woven containers. They just use their hands to catch the fish if

the water in the river is almost empty. They do not get the small fishes or

the pregnant ones. This is a happy time for them. There is a fiesta

atmosphere in the river where everyone enjoys a good catch. They do not

advocate the use of electric fishing which kills even the small and

pregnant fishes.

The Mangyans consider the mountains and the rivers as source of

their food. As long as there are mountains, they said, they will always

have food to eat. Each family has its own mountain/s to plant using the

kaingin system. The entire family works in the kaingin farm. They have a

fallow period of five years or more. This allows time for the mountain to

grow shrubs, trees and grasses that will make the soil fertile again and can

be used for planting. Cutting of trees in the forest is limited to their needs.

The Mangyans do not want mining activities in their mountains because

according to their leaders, removing the mines would weaken the

mountain which is like removing the bones of a person which makes a

person weak or unable to stand.

During harvest time (October-November), other relatives from the

inner or more remote mountains come to help them. They stay with them

for some time. This is how they share their harvest to their relatives. Most

of them have many relatives. The rice that they harvested is not enough to

feed them until the next cropping season. When there is no more rice they

eat other crops like banana, gabi, ube, kalabasa, kamote and nami(wild

yam). They continued to plant root crops in their ‘kaingin’ areas that could

not be used for plow farming. These are the hilly parts which were also

planted with upland rice before they were introduced to lowland farming.

Impacts of Institutional Support: Introducing the Lowland Farming

When lowland plow farming was introduced, there were some changes in

that took place in their practice of the kaingin system that they know. First, they

decreased the areas used for kaingin farming because they have concentrated in

their lowland farming. Their lifestyle also changed because most of their cultural

practices are integrated in their kaingin farming system. Their practices in a

communal house that they carry with them in their kaingin were also changed.

They now also started to build their own houses which are more or less permanent

and they have their own lands to till also. As time passed, the frequency of their

ritual practices also decreased.

Table 1 shows the chronological sequence of events that led to the

introduction of Institutions’ support in the Alangan Mangyan Community with its

corresponding impacts. It was not visualized that in the long run, lowland farming

practice that was handed down as Insitutions’ support by the MIC Sisters together

with the 21st Century Association, will eventually leave an unintended negative

impact in the farming system as well as in the livelihood of the Alangan Mangyan

tribe due to its unsustainable characteristic.

Table 1. Introduction of Institutions’ Support in the Sepuyo Alangan Mangyan Community

Year Major event(s) Major impacts

1989 • Five (5) Mangyan families from near by municipalities started to • Clearing of land for Kaingin started.
settle in Sitio Sepuyo Sta. Cruz, Occidental Mindoro.
• The Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (MIC) • Indigenous People Apostolate was created.
started their Mangyan apostolate in Sepuyo as part of the
Mangyan Mission areas of their vicariate.

• Additional funds were provided by the 21st Century Association, • Integrated agriculture projects were created such as
a Japan-based organization, to the MIC in support to their construction of windmill and purchasing of carabind
mission. and farm implements.
• The church through the Indigenous People Apostolate reached • The Mangyans were introduced to lowland farming in
out to the Mangyans in Sitio Sepuyo. the lowland part of their Kaingin areas.

• The other members of the community (18 families) joined their • Integrated Pest Management (IPM) was introduced.
families in Sepuyo, comprising an estimated population of 92; • The population of the community increased.
1994 the land where they were situated was still fertile and was able to
produce even without applying inorganic fertilizer.
• Construction of irrigation canal was enabled, which the natives • Increases in the number of harvest by the natives
used to divert water from the Amnay River. were observed. From 100 cavans, to cavans, until it
increased into 500 cavans.

• After introducing IPM and different non – indigenous farming

1997 practices, the MIC Sisters together with their agriculturist left
Sitio Sepuyo and just occasionally visited the area.

1999 - 2005 • The Mangyans practiced natural farming, equipped with lowland
farming practice and technology.
• American Baptists regularly visited the Alangan Mangyan’s • Influenced by those preachers, a number of members
community. of the community stopped practicing their rituals and
become members of the Baptist Church instead.
2006 • The Mangyans started to use fertilizers because the land was not • They started to loan fertilizers from the non-
fertile anymore because of the continuous utilization of it. mangyans/’tagalogs(damuongs)’ and were asked to
pay three cavans for every sack of fertilizer, making
life more difficult for them as their harvest was used
for paying loans instead of consuming it.

This situation was somehow related the Dumagats that live near the Ipo

Watershed land. A study conducted in 2004 on the Ipo Watershed land which revealed

that only 30-40% of the Ipo Watershed land area has remaining forest cover. The original

open area or grassland was estimated to be 15% of the entire watershed while the area

estimated to be damaged by slash-and-burn farming or kaingin is 55%. From 2002 to

2005, the extent of forest destruction is very alarming. It is already 2007. If the

continuous rise in the rate of deforestation does not cease, we could be seeing in the next

five years another barren “Montalban Mountain” with lots of cogon grass and no forested

area. Furthermore, a UP Mountaineers member, Frederick Ochavo, cited in his article that

the indigenous people of Dumagat from the Sierra Madre Mountain Range already

established a Kaingin method of farming that is much better compared to the lowland

farming practice. The Dumagats live in harmony with nature for generations. They take

only what they need. Even though they employ kaingin, it is unlike the kaingin method of

lowlanders which covers a lot of ground. The kaingin sites of the Dumagats are small and

just enough to meet their seasonal needs. After some time, they move to another place

and leave their kaingin site to regenerate on its own. As much as possible, the Dumagats

do not cut trees that are more than 5 inches in diameter. Their method of farming is

already sustainable as the forest is given the chance to grow back. On the other hand, the

farming practices of lowland people do not give the forest a chance to heal itself. Unlike

the nomadic Dumagat families, lowlanders settle on tracts of land and expand their

property by cutting down trees and burning them. For them, farm lots are better than

forests. It can possibly be the same situation as for the Alangan Mangyans of Occidental

Mindoro. Analyzing the events occurred from 1989 to 2006, the productivity of the yields

of the Alangan Mangyan farmers increased but only for a short period of time. After

sacrificing their own way of living and their culture, different undesirable things

happened and will happen if they can revert back to their culture and further develop it

instead of changing it. Thus, there can be an unintended negative impact occurred long

after the Institutions’ supports given to this tribe were adapted by them.


The interrelationship among the Mangyans, MIC Sisters and Japanese NGO could

be described as harmonious. They have worked closely to make the land become more

productive through the use of lowland farming technology. But, contrary to what the

institutions normally think of the kaingin system, their type of kaingin system is far more

sustainable than reaching the point of continuous decline in the soil fertility of the area

and the usage of inorganic fertilizer used for the lowland farming until the point that it

needs to be supported by inorganic fertilizer. Yes, they decreased their kaingin farming

activities which could regenerate the forests, was able to increased their productivity, and

learned new ways of farming techniques but in the end, the gradual disintegration of the

traditional Mangyan culture due to the outside influences caused changes not only in the

economic system of the group, but also their way of conserving their land. Leading to

negative and unintended impacts resulted to a more difficult way of living for our

Alangan Mangyan group.


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