Bai Bibyaon Ligkayan Bigkay, Manobo chieftain from Mindanao’s Pantaron Range, is UP Gawad Tandang Sora’s 2017 recipient. 92-year old Bigkay continues to defend Manobo ancestral land and other rights of indigenous peoples (IPs).
The awarding ceremony was held on February 23, 2017 at the Bulwagang Tandang Sora of the College of Social Work and Community Development (cswcd), UP Diliman.
The College described Bigkay as the “Mother of the Lumad Revolution and Tandang Sora of the Countryside”. In the 1990s, she was among those who led a tribal war against a destructive logging company that threatened their lands in Davao del Norte.
She provided sanctuary in the Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Learning Center, which started in her community and now runs around 50 elementary and high schools for indigenous children.
Bigkay has been part of the Lakbayan ng mga Pambansang Minorya, which last sought sanctuary in UP Diliman at Kampuhan 2016. Through the Lakbayan, IPs are able to demonstrate their plight to the country and to centers of power. Most of them are driven away from their ancestral lands through militarization and harassment by mining and logging companies.
The Gawad is bestowed upon academics, practitioners, or organizations for excellent service in social work, community development, women development, and social development. It comes with a cash prize from the Office of the UP Diliman Chancellor. It was established during the UP Centennial but has been awarded only three times since then.
The trophy was sculpted by UP Artist Leonilo Doloricon.
The awarding ceremony was attended by: Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, who is also chair of the Gawad Tandang Sora Committee; former Gawad Tandang Sora recipient, Salvacion Basiano; nominator, Sr. Noemi Degala, SMSM, of Initiatives for Peace in Mindanao; UP Diliman Chancellor Michael Tan; and former CSWCD deans, Rosalinda Ofreneo, Angelito Manalili, Sylvia Guerrero, Manuel Bonifacio, and Amaryllis Torres.
Incumbent CSWCD Dean Jocelyn Caragay welcomed the guests, gave a background of the awards, and reported on current developments in the College, which will be celebrating its 50th anniversary as a separate academic unit in August. The celebrations, which began with the Gawad ceremony, are planned and coordinated by a committee chaired by Prof. Emmanuel Luna. ( Jo. Florendo B. Lontoc, UP MPRO)