- Takes note that the Philippines has nominated Buklog, thanksgiving ritual system of the Subanen (No. 01495) for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:
Buklog is an elaborate thanksgiving ritual system of the Subanen, an indigenous people in the southern Philippines. The head of a host family, usually a village chief called ‘timuay’, plans the ritual system to express gratitude to the spirits. The rituals ensure harmony among family, clan and community members, as well as among the human, natural and spiritual worlds. They include asking the spirits for permission to gather materials from the forest, presenting coin offerings, inviting the spirits of the departed to feast, invoking spirits of water and land, and music and dance. Afterwards, participants dance on an elevated wooden structure called the ‘Buklog’ – a sacred and social space – which resonates with a sound believed to please the spirits. This is followed by a community dance marking the renewal of spiritual and social relationships within the community. Though the ritual system remains the community’s strongest unifying force, there are several social, political and economic threats that compromise its viability, notably the influx of other cultures into the Subanen’s traditional homeland, changes in family dynamics and economic constraints. Therefore, although the Subanen have developed highly adaptive mechanisms to ensure their culture survives, the Buklog is now regarded as highly vulnerable, facing several severe interrelated threats and constraints.
- Considers that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:
U.1: While the Subanen community is linguistically, culturally, geographically and religiously diverse, Buklog is one of its major cultural elements, tying the community together and creating harmonious cultural bonds with other communities. The bearers and practitioners of the element are members of Subanen communities in the Zamboanga peninsula, including men and women, elders, youth and children. Its current mode of transmission is through the family and community leaders, inculcating Buklog’s values into the younger generations and engaging them all in the planning and preparation of the Buklog, thereby reinforcing social cohesion.
U.2: The viability of Buklog is strongly threatened by numerous factors. These include: the migration of young people to urban centres in search of diversified job opportunities; their adoption of lowland cultures, related to an imposed, culturally inappropriate educational system that even causes them to feel shame in relation to their own indigenous culture; the influence of the Christian religion; the poverty and economic constraints of the community; the loss of their ancestral lands due to armed conflict; as well as the encroachment of illegal logging concessions upon forests and farmlands, from which materials for the ritual artefacts are sourced. Because of these factors, the frequency and extent of the practice of the element have greatly diminished – even vanishing in some places – over the years, and its spiritual and social significance may be completely lost in the coming decades.
U.3: Past and current safeguarding measures have been undertaken to ensure the viability of Buklog. These have focused on the transmission of knowledge of the rituals, its promotion and documentation, involving the communities and individuals concerned. A detailed ‘Comprehensive Safeguarding Plan’ has been proposed by representatives of the communities from eight municipalities, with the support of several organizations. This plan contains clear objectives and expected results, including a well-structured timetable, budget and detailed information about four intended strategies applied at various times over four years. These strategies are intended to address the various threats to the element by promoting shared responsibility between the Subanen and the local government and integrating the safeguarding of Buklog into the mainstream political system.
U.5: The element was included in the Philippine Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2005. The National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Philippines, is the body responsible for maintaining and updating the inventory. It is regularly updated and validated when new data are made available through field research, cultural mapping, community consultations, performances of the ritual and video documentation.
- Further considers that the information included in the file was not sufficient to allow the Committee to determine whether the following criterion for inscription on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding is satisfied:
U.4: The village chiefs and community-based cultural workers, practitioners, village representatives, indigenous groups, non-governmental organizations and local government units have actively participated in all the stages of the process since 2017. Unfortunately, all but one of the consent letters refer to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity instead of the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, which is a major problem considering the strong difference between these two lists. It is therefore unclear if the community members were aware of the consequences of inscription on the relevant List and if they agree with the urgent need for safeguarding of the element.
- Further takes note that, having considered that the information included in the file was not sufficient to determine whether criterion U.4 is satisfied and that a short question and answer process with the submitting State might clarify whether the nomination meets the criterion concerned, the Evaluation Body decided, pursuant to Decision 13.COM 10, to initiate a ‘dialogue’ process in order to obtain information on the following question:
Almost all the letters of consent and endorsement refer to inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Can you confirm that the communities concerned are indeed informed of and consent to the inscription of the element on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding?
- Also takes note of the information provided thereon by the submitting State as well as the subsequent opinion of the Evaluation Body, as documented in LHE/19/14.COM/INF.10, which considers that the answer provided adequately addresses the question (under paragraph 4);
- Considers that, on the basis of the information included in the file and the information provided by the submitting State through the ‘dialogue’ process as well as the subsequent opinion of the Evaluation Body, criterion U.4 is satisfied;
- Decides to inscribe Buklog, thanksgiving ritual system of the Subanen on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.