Tribes and Nature Defenders Inc
Philippines, Mount Sagyaan, Rogongon, Iligan City
August 2020 - November 2021

“Our Culture is our Life; Nature is our Future.”

The project is about the “HIga-onon Tribal Encounter: Reclaiming Earth Connection through Sacred Chanting and Ceremonies.” It aims to preserve and reclaim the sacredness of both tribal culture and nature. The communities are eager to pursue their journey to protect their ancestral wisdom. Tribal community members will benefit from the project by reverting back to fully embracing their culture and nature; and it will become a model for other tribal communities. Initiating this project means attempting to raise up their identity and defend the sacred forest through their culture.

The significance of this project is the reclaiming of the dying and forgotten culture, and it will help to raise up a generation of leaders who will preserve an authentic culture that connects to nature. Through Tribal Encounter, the community will engage in dialogue to respond to recent issues of sacred forest exploitation and cultural extinction. The project will create a common ground for the Elders, leaders, and youth to discuss the benefits of culture,  identity, nature, and the next leadership to continue the ancient ceremonial rituals and teach the ancient language as a treasure for the next generation. 

Furthermore, the project holds significance in asserting voice, presence, and identity in tribal interactions, to share common ideas that give them a sense of freedom in the remaining sacred forest. This is very important to mould young people into the bearers of the culture and protectors of nature. The project is inclusive of all tribal members, and the organization will partner with the tribal council and the women’s groups to implement the project to be resilient to exploitation.


Goals & objectives of project activities: 

  1. Project Planning 
  1. Forest Encounter – Discussion of the Crisis, Nature’s Stewardship, and Cultural Identity 
  1. Sacred Chanting & Dancing Celebration of Creation of the Universe (3 nights and 3 days)
  2. Project Evaluation


The project may face challenges, but it will not affect and hamper the project implementation. Although there are challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic, we will address the challenges completely in order to continue the project activities while ensuring the safety of the tribal clan members.


The organization will employ rules and regulations to ensure participant safety based on the standards of the local government, including:

  • Social distancing (1.5 meters)
  • Wearing face masks
  • Proper handwashing and hygiene


The project will bring the best outcomes for a strong community who are empowered, respected, self-reliant, and united in addressing issues of the tribal communities. Clear outcomes will come from community member participation in the discourse on tribal survival. Tribal Encounter will create common ground for tribal clans to share their thoughts and opinions integrated into the discussion. Inclusive participation will bring the decision to defend the culture and nature. 

The 3-night Kaamulan Festival/Gathering shows people within the communities and outside of them that there is still authentic culture and beliefs with a connection to Mother Earth that benefits culture and nature. This project raises awareness of the young people and tribal members about the sacredness of Mother Earth.

The project benefits tribal communities who are living in the remaining sacred forest of Mount Sagyaaan, Bagtokon, and Tambulan in Rogongon Iligan City Mindanao Philippines. The tribal Elders, members, and clan leaders are the recipients of the project outcomes so they can gather together to talk about their culture, nature, and survival.

The project is significant not only locally but also globally, dealing with the protection of culture and nature. We believe the tribes are the best friends of Mother Earth rooted in their culture and tradition in nature. The tribal teaching is to defend the sacred forest so they can continue their beliefs as spiritual beings.

The tribes will not survive without the forest, and they will protect it because this is their life. Protecting the rainforest not only benefits the local population but the world as a whole. Materialization of the project addressing recent issues of deforestation will help the people to protect and preserve the remaining sacred forest for all.

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