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From left to right, up to down, Jannette (Chief’s daughter from first marriage), Vilma (first school teacher in Biao and fourth wife of Chief Duma), Chief Duma, son of Duma (from first marriage), youngest daughter Andrea (from Vilma) and youngest daughter of his first wife. 

When PASALI asked Chief Duma in 2007 what he wanted for his people, he said: food, education for our children, and we want to earn our own incomes. Duma, also referred to as Double 2 or Commander, had been chosen by the tribe several years earlier not because of blood but because the tribe council found in him a fierce defender of their people. He had led his young men into the logging practice, being paid a few pennies by a foreign financed logging company to chop down trees of their own ancestral land. But this practice was limited, and his people had to hunt and plant some cassave for food. None of his tribe members, including himself ever went to school nor could they read and write. They can however calculate the price a piece of wood could fetch, and buy goods at a food store.

But since 2007, many things have changed. They are no longer starving, because they grow food for consumption and sale, taught by PASALI farm technicians. They started two women- led markets for that purpose and sell their corn to local traders. Duma and his son  works at these farms run by four cooperatives and 1 village group, milling the corn at the corn mill designed and fabricated by PASALI in their village. They grow rice with the System of Rice Intensification and have boosted the harvest average in upland Palimbang from 40 sacks (about 2 tons) to 60 sacks (about 3 tons). His son played basket ball when a basketball tournament was organized in their village with players from the valley. Five years ago, this was unthinkable: nobody went up to be with the Manobos, and nobody thought well of a Manobo in Palimbang. Andrea will go to school soon to the day care and elementary school which is approved by the Department of Social Welfare and Development and recently, the Department of Education – the status of which the village lobbied directly to the respected agencies with PASALI’s help. The other sisters go to highschool in the valley below because they stay at host families who are part of PASALI’s extended network of volunteers. PASALI recently helped their village elders to submit their Claim for Ancestral Domain Title, so at least the land they live on which is rightfully theirs could be legally theirs in the future.

Duma no longer logs. None of his men or young men do anymore. Instead they plant trees. Their village recently planted 1 hectare of rubber tree seedling, and another 10 hectares is on its way. Maybe someday, the girls’ kids, or Chief’s grandchildren will be running under those trees to play.

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2 thoughts on “The life of Duma Bonifacio

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