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By Novally Membrot


Embedded in everyday lives among the indigenous peoples in the Cordillera Region is the culture of “BINNADANG” (mutual help). It is a cultural practice of cooperation by supporting people in need through volunteerism and community help. It is a spirit of communal unity, work and cooperation to achieve a particular goal which automatically emerges in times of disaster or need. Although each ethnic group in the Cordillera Region has a different term for it, the basic essence of the tradition is the same, “community solidarity”.

Owing to the women’s vital role in food sustenance not only in their everyday lives but most especially during the occurrence of emergencies, disasters, and calamities, the Tanglag Women Organization (TWO) has introduced the project, “Binnadang: Piloting of the Emergency Nutri Bar”in partnership with the Center for Disaster Preparedness’ Pinnovation Academy. 

The members of the organization are indigenous people (IPs) from the Tanglag Tribe of St. Joseph Village, Navy Base, Baguio City. They originated from a small interior community of Barangay Tanglag in the Municipality of Lubuagan, Province of Kalinga. The members migrated to Baguio City in search of better opportunities so they could economically support their families and children who are studying in the city. But their poverty has not been resolved by their migration due to prevalent joblessness and underemployment.  

The Tanglag Tribe has countless, deep and rich experiences in terms of collective struggles for the protection of the environment and resources. They were among the tribes in Kalinga Province that struggled, resisted and opposed the establishment of Chico Dam during the Martial Law era from 1972 until 1986. 

Indigenous women are among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in Philippine society. Indigenous women still suffer multiple discrimination, both as women and as indigenous individuals. Despite these challenges, the indigenous women of Tanglag still cherished their good practices which they have carried with them from their original community. The women still adhere to the indigenous knowledge systems and practices and cultures such as the above-mentioned “Binnadang” (mutual help) which is being practiced in times of emergencies, disasters, and calamities. “Binnadang” as an indigenous practice of cooperation is unique to the community as their relationship with each other is so tight that they consider each other as sister or brother.  Hence, they practice generosity, as sharing of goods and goodness without expecting anything in return. 

The women developed the nutri-bar project as food augmentation and emergency food. The innovation is the production of a nutri-bar from mung beans, sesame seeds and bananas. The mung beans were dried up and pulverized, the banana was dehydrated and likewise pulverized and the black sesame seeds were roasted. Then the pulverized mung beans and banana were mixed with honey and topped with black sesame seeds and then baked to make nutri-bar. The production of nutri-bar is an accessible,  nutritious, ready-to-eat food that can become part of the Tanglag Village community disaster preparedness and response. 

During the project implementation, the women practiced the concept of Binnadang. When there is a Binnadang Nutribar schedule, the women arrange their schedules so that two or three innovators do the work at Binnadang Nutribar while the other members attend to their regular economic activities or jobs to maintain their finances and continuously provide for their families. The women, when there is a Binnadang Nutri-bar schedule, also had a special arrangement in fetching their children from schools. At least one member is tasked to pick up all their respective grandchildren or children from school so that only one person is absent in the schedule. Their learnings in Binnadang are always shared with others who could not attend. They help and support each other so that no one is left behind.

”We learned a lot from this project. It was so hard for us to get the exact blend and taste but we are very happy because we learned a lot along the way. It is not just a new knowledge on how to make nutri-bar, but also the continuous reviving of the spirit of helping each other in times of emergency, disaster and calamity,” says Zenaida Wingnga who is one of the innovators in Phase 1. “While we are making nutri-bar, we are happily singing our salidummay entitled “SUR-WE-E”. Salidummay is our traditional chant as Kalingas,” says Rosalina Dumawing who was also one of the innovators. Geraldine Dao-ay, who was likewise one of the members of the innovating team has this to add, “This is a good nutri-bar project, we plan to bake nutri-bars during the rainy season or typhoon so the members will have nutritious food to eat specially for the children.”

The project indeed revitalized the community’s strong history of struggle and community-building, survival and resiliency practices. It is a positive contribution of the women’s organization to their community disaster preparedness and response program, and a major achievement for the organization that can be replicated in other similar indigenous peoples communities.

Owing to these achievements and successes, the Tanglag Women Organization continues its journey under Pinnovation Academy Phase 2 Scaling. Under the Phase 2 Scaling, the product will undergo Innovation Enhancement, Prototyping & Testing, Actual Product Development, and Shelf-Life Testing. The organization will continue its collaboration and partnership with the stakeholders from the national government agencies, the academe, the local government units and the private sector as advocates to build a safe, resilient and developed community.

Different trainings and workshops on Leadership, Community Assets and Financial Management, Organizational Management, Sustainability & Contingency Planning Workshop, Inclusive Community-based Disaster Risk Reduction and Management and Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Orientation, and Inclusive Local Indigenous Knowledge Empowering CBDRRM/CCAM were already conducted. The aforesaid training and workshops were attended by empowered and enthusiastic officers and members of the community organization. The training and workshops are tools that can develop the essential skills and knowledge of members to enhance leadership and teamwork in their organization.    The same were conducted and launched within the community to further increase community initiative and involvement.

During the Inclusive Local Indigenous Knowledge Empowering CBDRRM/CCAM workshop, one of the highlights is that the participants were able to re-identify and recollect their local indigenous knowledge, system and mechanisms and the role of women before, during and after a disaster or emergency. Aside from BINNADANG culture, the “ANGKAS”, “ABUYOG”, “IPANGO”, “CHUNGKAS” and other systems and mechanism of the Tanglag Tribe were also identified as good practices. The “ANGKAS”, “ABUYOG”, “IPANGO” and “CHUNGKAS”  are all forms of “Binnadang” or mutual aid and cooperation by helping each other in times of need. The people in the community collectively work together to get a job done faster like repairing a home that has been destroyed by a typhoon or landslide or harvesting crops before disaster hits the community without expecting anything in return. These are all reflective of the tribe’s strong sense of community and embodies their shared belief that everyone should help each other especially during disaster and emergency. These good practices are some manifestations that “BINNADANG” is indeed deeply ingrained in Tanglag Tribe life and culture and has a deeper cultural significance for the tribe and the community as a whole.

The challenge for the women is how to educate and involve the young generation for them to carry on these good practices and culture. The women said that they will continue to encourage and will involve the youth whenever there is a “BINNADANG” in the community. The women are firm and steadfast in their commitment to enrich these good practices and culture and at the same time hopeful that the next generation would inherit “BINNADANG” culture.


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