We first heard of Bodong, the Alternative Dispute Resolution in Kalinga when CBN Asia conducted a Basic Counseling Training at Bible Christian Fellowship Convention Center in Tabuk City last May 29, 2015.
What is Bodong? Here are excerpts Effectiveness of Bodong as an Alternative Dispute Resolution: A Glimpse of Kalingas’ Peace Framework
Bodong, a peace pact, evolves from the customs and traditions of the Kalingas. It discloses indigenous people’s cultural identity, heritage and integrity that were painstakingly developed with the passing of the time.Peace operates in the presence of social justice and in the absence of misunderstanding, conflict and war. It functions for stability, orderliness and harmony in the society. Peace, in that case, is the ultimate necessity for the attainment of an authentic, holistic and sustainable development.
Without peace, society disintegrates and eventually leads to a certain state of ruination. Hence, no matter how diverse people may be in terms of socio-cultural orientations, they are duty bound to push straightforward the dynamic efforts to keep on working fervently in the pursuit of peace and justice.
On the other hand, it is inevitable that in some instances, misunderstanding, conflict and even wars exists. These are basically part and parcel of human realities. They are already intertwined in the fabric of human existence. Nevertheless, in all societies, it is common for people to look for shared substantive norms to resolve problems.
According to Mnookin, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a set of practices and techniques aimed at permitting the resolution of disputes, basically legal in nature, outside the courts. It covers mediation, arbitration and other informal processes by which disputes are resolved in a neutral ground without formal adjudication.
In ADR, a third party is involved who offers an opinion or communicates the information about disputes to the disputants.
In the Northern Philippines, one of the provinces situated in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) that embraces ADR in relation to the maintenance of peace and order is the Kalinga province because of the presence and practice of bodong. Most of the Kalingas prefer to settle their differences through bodong rather than to undergo the usual legal remedies and proceedings.
In other words, bodong is a cultural necessity that aims to address and to arrest the tribal conflict between and among villages which may hinder social and economic progress as these intervene in the healthy processes of intermarriage, trade and commerce.
Bodong emerged from the customs and traditions of the Kalingas with a constitution and by-laws known as the Pagta. The provisions of the Pagta basically highlights the duties, rights and protection of members as well as the sanctions to crimes committed. The bodong holders (village leaders) serve as peace makers when dispute arises and the binodngan (member of the bodong) is duty-bound to comply with the set of rules and guidelines of the said practice.
According to Prill-Brett, in a study on Cordillera indigenous political institutions, bodong has essential steps to be followed religiously.
- First is the sipat. It is the exchange of two objects of about equal value between two men who want to establish a peace pact.
- Second is the simsim, a ritual that is done in the village of the initiator of the pact. Grievances are discussed and announced to the public.
- Third is the lonok that refers to a large celebration in which the delegates of the other concerned village are invited. The issues are discussed, payment of indemnities is undertaken, and provisions of the pagta are drawn up.
- Fourth step is the dolnat (to warm up). It is much like a lonok where exchange of valuable gifts is done.
As years went by, the Kalingas decided to institutionalize the practice of bodong so that the provisions as well as polices would become binding. Consequently, bodong holders, binodngans and the local government authorities created the Matagoan Bodong Consultative Council. The seat is located in Tabuk City, Kalinga.
The practice of bodong in Kalinga is sanctioned by several legal bases.
- United Nations Declaration of Human Rights Article 27, Section 1 encapsulates the momentous concept of cultural integrity which gives everyone the relative freedom to practice and to enjoy one’s way of life without being suppressed and discriminated by others. It is a fundamental right of the communities to actively participate in the process of evolution, conservation, preservation, and enrichment of cultural heritage and artistic traditions.
- Furthermore, the 1987 Philippine Constitution Article 12, Section 5 and Article 14, Section 17 declare that the State, subject to the provisions of this Constitution and national development policies and programs, shall protect the rights of indigenous cultural communities to their cultures, traditions and ancestral lands to ensure their economic, social, and cultural well-being.
- Moreover, the Republic Act 8371 commonly known as Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 supports the advocacies of indigenous peace framework, multiculturalism and many movements with clear intentions to uphold cultural practice and life-centered traditions that influence everyone’s desire in the attainment of a just and humane society.