BAMBANG, Nueva Vizcaya: The Bugkalot Confederation (BC) has a new chief, who was chosen during a tribal assembly that was attended by the Beganget (Council of Elders) and leaders from the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino and Aurora.

Bishop John Caanawan 267x300 - Bishop Bugkalot tribe’s new chief
Bishop John Caanawan. FB Photo

Bishop John Caanawan was appointed as the new overall leader of the BC, replacing Rosario Camma, who held the position for more than a decade.

Appointed as vice chief was Randy Salo.

According to John Pagie, acting secretary of the BC assembly held at the boundary of Quirino and Aurora, the appointment of Caanawan by the Beganget as the new chief was based on a long-established practice called pogong.

Pagie explained that pogong has been a redress mechanism in settling conflicts; whether they concern land disputes, leadership issues, feuds, marriages and many others.

The Tengeg (leaders or community experts) compose the Council of Elders also called Pogong no Beganget–Mebbeya.

Pagie said the Bugkalot Confederation is the overall and highest governing body or organization of the Bugkalot (Ilongot) political structures, institutions and social organizations within the three provinces and other recognized areas outside the ancestral domains.

The BC also covers the Bugkalot Provincial Federations in Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino and Aurora down to the Bugkalot Municipal Associations and Bugkalot Barangay Associations.

The Bugkalot Professionals Federation Inc., meanwhile, is an organization of Bugkalot professionals helping to intensify the campaign against poverty and toward prosperity.

The Bugkalot are the rights holders of Ancestral Domain Title (ADT) Nos. R02-NAG-0173-0012 and R02- DUP-0110-0146, covering ancestral domains and ancestral lands located within Aurora, Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya/Nueva Ecija and those areas that may be considered part of their territory, which shall be covered by their structural and organizational frameworks.

“Being one of the Beganget, we feel the respect, love and trust of the Ilongots [Bugkalot] in Bishop John Caanawan. He possesses the character of a true servant and leader that we have been longing for to unify all those who belong to our tribe,” Siklab Pasigian said.

Caanawan is also the bishop and head minister of the Christian Mission for Christ Inc., based in Aurora with satellite churches in Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya and Nueva Ecija.

He expressed thanks to the Council of Elders and everyone in the tribe for the trust given to him to lead the Bugkalot Confederation even as he vowed to work for the unity of the whole tribe.

“Our initial focus is on education and livelihood for everyone who belongs to the Bugaklot tribe whether he or she only possesses a drop of the Bugkalot blood,” Caanawan said.

Headhunting was a long-abandoned practice of the Bugkalot since they were Christianized, starting in a small village in Maria Aurora town in Aurora province called Cadayacan, which also became the center of missions among missionaries in the 1960s and 1970s.

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