In a complex society where technological advances is taking over, buildings replaces trees and mountains, and with everything going instant like food, gadgets, clothing and all other necessities in life, it is no wonder why people are constantly evolving with change.

This has been the case for the Subanon tribe of Barangay Tabayo in the Municipality of Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte. The barangay has a 99% population of Subanon.

The Subanon are known to be “peace-loving” people, which justify the reason why they move from one place to another. They move to areas far from noise. They cultivate crops, they are also known to raise livestock including pigs, chickens, cattle, and carabaos. Subanon houses are built along hillsides and ridges overlooking family fields.

The tribe is continuously confronted with complex societal challenges like globalization, arm struggle, threats from violent extremist and others.

According to Bonifacio Patoh, 54, BSPMC Chair and a resident of the Tabayo, as observed by the community elders of the tribe that the younger generations are losing their sense of appreciation of the richness of their culture. This somewhat contributes to losing their sense of identity which lies the very existence of their tribe.

Thus the proposal on the construction of the “Subanon Piglompokan Nog Baloy Nog Mokogulangan” sub-project was based on the fear among the tribal elders who perceives that the new generation is no longer practicing the Subanon Cultural processes handed over by their forefathers.


The Barangay experiences a lot of difficulties since Tabayo is located 8 kilometers away from Poblacion, problem on education, impassable roads, low income and cultural issues. During the 2nd Barangay Assembly, the people deemed it necessary to give importance to discuss and address the concerns of the IP’s. It cannot be denied that due to “Strong Social Influence” the IP issues were not given priority. And with continuous assemblies surface the agreement on the construction of the heritage village.

Through the Project Preparation Team (PPT) and the Barangay and Local Government Unit of Tabayo, help realized the creation of the IP Heritage Village.

The materials used in this particular sub-project were purely indigenous resources coming from the mountains of Siocon hand-picked by the Subanon community themselves which they believed fits perfectly for the design.

“Dili man ni makadaot sa kinaiya kay dili man ni gidaot namo ang mga kahoy. Selected lang man kung unsa lang ang mga gikinahanglan”, explained by Boni on the process of gathering the materials.

(This will not ruin the environment because we did not intend to destroy the trees for lumber. Only the selected ones which are enough for our needs”).

Unlike the usual western design of Kalahi-CIDSS Structure, the proposed look of the village was based on the historical structure built on specific purposes. Instead of using nails in building the houses made from indigenous materials, they preferred using twigs, for it is traditionally used in building Subanon structures in the past. The twigs were carefully wrapped around the pillars to hold firmly each structure.

The construction of each structure had undergone consultation with the Subanon Elders as respect to their tradition, to include consideration to working days, materials and rituals held before construction.

The IP Heritage Village is an 8-structure sub-project design to be the venue to showcase their arts and crafts, a place to practice their culture and tradition, to strengthen their self-worth and empower them to be more productive members of the community.

Each structure has its own uses, namely; “Baloy Poglompukan”, a structure where Elders gathers to discuss traditional matter. “Baloy Pintow”,a place where family and friends gather. “Maligay”, this is the place where they nurse a person who was believed to be inhibited with spirited elements from the mountains. “Glapow”, this represents the holy church of Subanon people, they usually gather during Wednesdays. “Batah Baloy”, this is the sacred place where the “Boliyan” or Subanon Priest prays. This is where the good spirit usually comes in. “Sigulang”, this is the place where traditional Subanon relaxes after a long hours of farming in the mountains. “Baloy Ponginaguan nog Polongkapan nog Subanon”, this is where they store materials used by sacred Subanon tribe. “Baloy Polindowan”, this is the place where Subanon people meditate to take away stress and problems.


Among the direct benefits identified by the community and the B/LGU includes the revival and preservation of the cultural practices of the Subanon in Tabayo. The sense of discrimination and marginalization of the tribe in the previous year’s even decades can be addressed now.

The DepEd’s IP Education (IPED) more than ever, was strengthened now with the additional specialized teachers provided by the DepEd in Tabayo to demonstrate to the Subanon children concepts about their culture with the help of the Heritage Village as venue thus pushing them to accept their identity. Strategically, since the sub-project was built near the school.

They are more empowered as they have been recognized and have been educated. In fact, several Subanon children have graduated in high school while some have reached college level.

“Ang Kalahi dili lang siya mag-implement og project, maghatag pud og kahibalo sa community kaning pag-process sa mga materyals, pagpadagan sa mga papeles ani. Dako kaayo mig pasalamat ning ani kay kame mismo proud mi nga naa miy ingon ani bisan asa mi makaadto nga area sa IPs”.

(The Kalahi program does not only implements project but they also share knowledge to the community on how to process materials, on how to go about with the documents. We are grateful for we are so proud that we have this kind wherever IP area we may go”, shared by BSPMC Chairperson Patoh during the inauguration ceremony).

Mayor Julius Lobrigas considers the KALAHI NCDDP sub-project developed as an avenue significant in the preservation of the cultural heritage of the Subanon.

He emphasized that the structure will provide a place where the IP community can gather together as a community and they become more united.

Completed by December 2017 with a total cost of Php854, 468.00, the sub-project was formally turned-over to the community and is now being used for assemblies and tribal meetings.

Although it has yet to really fulfill its purpose to the community, but by its physical presence at the heart of Tabayo, with the initial plans and support of the LGU to further develop the sub-project, Subanon can now be assured of the services to be centered on them.### (JGA)