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Community-based forest management policy and the cultural practices of the Sama tribe.


Enger and Smith (2006) have warned on the growing threat of global warming caused by human activity--a situation that calls for new approach of decision-making and interest in shaping public policy. Canadian Environment Minister David Anderson said, "The global climate change is a greater threat than terrorism because it could force hundreds of millions of people from their homes and trigger an economic and social catastrophe" (Cunningham & Cunningham, 2006).

In undertaking environmental concerns policy that is culture-sensitive is necessary and "culture matters in public policy" (Hopped, 2007). Often, economic and political and not cultural implications are taken into account in policy analysis. Public policies are supposed to evoke a unitary and consensual governance culture (Van Gunsteren, 2002), and make culture an ally instead of an enemy, Hopped (2007) emphasized. Cultural consent solidifies government-people partnership in implementing public policy. A partnership built on respect for culture is robust (Vega, 2006). "Client analysis" to ensure cultural consent is a potent requirement in implementing public policy and one important question in evaluating such policy (Hayes, 1999).

The Philippine government responded to the global challenge of sustainable development. It committed to be "in compliance with the international commitments towards sustainable forest management" (DENR, 2005). Hence, it adopted and implemented the Community-Based Forest Management Policy.

While Werner & Wegrich (2007,) insisted that "policy-making is supposed to contribute to problem solving or at least to the reduction of problem load", Linao (2004) and Carino (2005) respectively asserted that not all development programs or public policies are environment friendly. Some of them could be obstructive and hazardous to life and not culture friendly and could therefore be detrimental particularly to the indigenous people. It should be made sure that "development initiative will not offer the environment to the altar of global competitiveness" (Linao, 2005).

There have been several policy analysis researches done concerning forest management; however, all were within socio-economic and political realms; nothing analyzed Community Forest Management policy in the context of the cultural practices of indigenous communities.

The Tagbaobo's Sama tribe, a forest dependent and an indigenous people community, is definitely a target of the policy. Thus, its cultural practices may be used as basis and index to determine the validity and feasibility of the said policy.

As a factor of social development, public policy has to be analyzed; hence, this study was undertaken.


This study is anchored on three sets of theories. First, Vega (2006) and Hopped (2007) theorized culture as a way of life and it substantially helps predict policy's side effects and helps design policy-oriented learning experiences. It is an excellent heuristic in problem-structuring and frame-reflective policy analysis. Culture's components are communicative, cognitive, behavioral, and material. Second, Werner and Wegrich (2007) on time-segment theory on policy analysis postulated that policy analysis can be ex ante or ex post. The study utilized Nagel's Conceptual Theory and Policy Evaluation focused on goal, strategy, and goal-strategy connection elements using systematic and analytic method of either quantitative or qualitative or both to determine validity and feasibility of the policy (Hayes 2002). Third, are the theories that explain the acceptability of public policy on whether the interests and viewpoints of its proponents and the culture of the indigenous communities affected are aligned to it or not. Culture demands comprehensive considerations from observation to the level of in depth analysis (Enger & Smith 2006). A multidisciplinary approach is necessary if one has to examine the interrelationship of the culture-based systems and the aim and management of techno-social change as consequence of development pursuits (Yanow 2007).


The study was pursued to describe the cultural practices of the Sama tribe and to utilize such information as a contextual paradigm to determine the validity and feasibility of the Community-Based Forest Management Policy. Specifically, this study sought to achieve the following objectives: (1) to describe the demographic profile of the Sama Tribe in Tagbaobo; (2) to portray the cultural practices of Sama tribe; (3) to determine the congruence of the goals and strategies of Community-Based Forest Management Policy with the cultural practices of the Sama tribe.


This study is descriptive (Calderon & Gonzales, 1993) using qualitative-interpretive (Yanow 2007) and quantitative methods. The categorization through coding system led to quantitative interpretation of the recurring themes, compare and contrast responses, and link up information to unverified criteria (Colton and Covert 2007). Frequencies of occurrence of the coded qualitative data and statistical correlation between values were determined through tabular presentation. Convenient sampling technique was used among Sama people from Tagbaobo, Island Garden City of Samal.

The data collection procedure started from integrating in the community to reviewing the documents and synthesizing-analyzing process focused on the cultural practices of Sama people and the core and rundown goals of Community Based Forest

Management. Core goals are referring to the main and specific intention of the policy. The data analysis included documentation, transcription, and categorization using emergent coding system, validation, and complementation.


Culturally, the Sama people are mountain and sea-source dependent, communal by nature, confident to their Datu, Balyan, Magbubungay and old folks as leaders, respectful to the spirits as stewards of creation, faithful to Magabaya, and protective and caring for the environment.

The Rituals with specific materials used as symbolisms are Sama's concrete medium of its commitment to Magbabaya in protecting and caring for the environment. The Manuwak, Magdayao, Guwang, Pangapog, Abugon, Manawagtawag, Magbana, and Manganiyani rituals manifest the significance of the environment and the values of the tribe. Performing the rituals offensive to cultural practices is wickedness. The aggressor will suffer from sapa (curse).

The Sama people practice eight rituals: Manuwak, Magdayaw, Guwang, Pangapog, Abugon, Manawagtawag, Magbana, and Manganiyani. Manuwak performed in humility during drought aims to ask for mercy and rain. People manifest and intensify their values on sharing during this crisis. Magdayaw is observed during eccentric situations to alleviate problems and promote reconciliation. Guwang is done during death of a community member to remind people the non-ownership and supremacy of land. Pangapog is celebrated for thanksgiving and sharing of bounties. Abugon is performed to cast away curse in the community through reparation and forgiveness. Manawagtawag is honored to heal sick person. Here people learn the significance of herbs and respect indigenous way of healing. Magbana is accomplished when calamities strike the community. This ritual reminds the people the importance of caring for the environment and nature. Manganiyani is feted to truly respect and ensure the spirits of the ultimate purpose of the timber.

The study revealed that the goals and strategies of CBFM can be divided in two levels: the core and rundown. While the core goals are all inclined to social interest, fifty seven percent (57%), twenty nine percent (29%) and fourteen percent (14%) of its rundown are political, economic and social in nature. Nothing is inclined to cultural aspect.

The three general strategies of CBFM are well distributed to economic, political and cultural aspects (Table 4). CBFM's core strategy stating respect indigenous culture has not been justified in its rundown strategies. The rundown strategies are inclined to economic (45%) and political (45%) aspects; while less to social (10%) and nothing to cultural (Table 5). This matches and corresponds with the orientation and inclination of the CBFM goals where 86% are also biased for political and economic targets.

The table shows that the general strategies of the Community Based Forest Management are equally focused on the political, economic and cultural aspects. There is nothing falls under social aspect. This implies that the policy does provide social benefit to the intended and affected community

The table shows that among the societal aspects, most of the rundown strategies of the Community Based Forest Management are politically and economically intended. Only 10% and nothing at all fall under social cultural aspects respectively. It means that the policy is culturally sensitive and responsive.

In can be gleaned from the table that more than half (52%) of the rundown strategies of Community Based Forest Management policy is articulated for organizing pursuits. This is followed by marketing/ business and funding which comprise 39% and 9%, respectively. The figures confirm that half of the concerns of the policy are money making interest related and other half is for structure and community building. That is, the policy confides with profit-making and funding related means or activities to achieve desired targets.

In view of the summary presentation of the Community Based Forest Management policy goals and strategies against the Sama people cultural practices (Table 6), it appears that while the policy's core goal and strategy are congruous with the Sama cultural practices, some goals and all rundown strategies obviously do not conform to and substantiate the Sama tribes's cultural practice. The rundown strategies do not even articulate the one considered a cultural-oriented strategy. The Community Based Forest Management has more of economic and political interests', which are incongruent with the cultural interest and practices of the Sama people.


The study found that the Community Based Forest Management is concerned with healthy environment and social justice through equitable access to forest resources. Likewise, the Sama cultural practices stress the inseparability of environmental practices from indigenous spirituality and the value of communal sharing. In as far as core goal is concerned the policy is congruous with the Sama cultural practices. However, as far as rundown goals are concerned, the policy is into political and economic rather than social and cultural. It involves uplifting of socio-economic condition of the community, enhancing of private investment, economic contribution and global competitiveness, and increasing revenues and incomes of communities and LGUs. These rather reflect monetary earnings out of excessive extraction of resources. The values manifested by the rituals imbibe communal sharing within the essence of integrity of creation and minimalist character of utilizing resources.

The rundown strategies of the policy do not essentially articulate its culture-oriented core strategy. Terms like land tenure scheme, market capital and linkage, equity and share of proceeds, foreign funding, forest resource securitization strategy, incentives such as exemption from rentals and forest charges, assistance of environment-concerned agencies, pricing and commercialization of forest resources, livelihood and plantation projects, and contractual scheme have more economic and political inclination as means rather than social and cultural interventions. They do not exemplify the indigenous spirituality, values and aspirations vis-a-vis environmental concerns. The Sama people value the sharing of forest resources, and the pure intention extracting resources. Sama cultural practices curb tree plantation for commercialization and excessive extraction of forest resources. They uphold forest natural self-replenishment process.

The policy's concept of forest management is contradictory to the cultural belief that forest should not be taken as a separate entity from the entire environmental concern. "Forest management" is incongruous with "environmental protection and care". The policy is incongruent to the cultural practices of the Sama people.

Date Submitted: August 18, 2007

Final Revision Accepted: November 9, 2007


Calderon, J. F., and Gonzales, E. C. (1993). Methods of research and thesis writing. Mandaluyong City: National Bookstore.

Carino, Jill. (2005). An assessment of the implementation of the philippine government's international commitments on traditional forest-related knowledge from the perspective of the indigenous people.

Colton, D. & Covert, R.W. (2007). Designing and constructing instruments for social research and evaluation. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Cunningham, W. & Cunningham M.V. (2006). Principles of environmental science: Inquiry and Application. New York: Third Edition. McGraw-Hill.

Defensor, M. T. (2005). National report to the fifth session of the United Nations forum on forest. Forest Management Bureau, Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Government of the Philippines.

DENR (2005). Forest Management Bureau National Report.

Enger, E.D. & Smith, B. F. (2006). Environmental Science: a study on interrelationship. McGraw-Hill, Inc. NY

Hayes, W. (2002). The public policy Web.

Hopped, R. (2007). Applied cultural theory: too for policy analysis. Handbook of Public Policy Analysis. New York: CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group

Linao, R. (2004). Community immersion: towards becoming agents of community empowerment. Q.C. Philippines: Great Books Trading.

Trochim, W.M. (2001). The research methods knowledge based (2nd ed.). Cincinnati, OH: Atomic Dog.

Werner, J. & Wegrich, K. (2007). Theories of the policy cycle. Handbook of Public Policy Analysis. New Yoirk: CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group

Van Gunsteren, H. (2002). Regimes as cultures (unpublished paper)

Vega, V. A. (2006). Social dimensions of education. Q.C. Philippines: Lorimar Publishing, Inc.

Yanow, D. (2007). Qualitative-interpretive Methods in Policy Research. In Fischer, F et al. (Ed), Handbook of public policy analysis: theory, politics and methods (405-415). FL, U.S.: CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group


University of Mindanao
Table 1: Sama tribe rituals and corresponding materials used and
values indicated

Ritual         Concern        Value

Manuwak        Drought        Sharing, humility and mercy

Magdayao       Irregularity   Comfort and reconciliation

Guwang         Death          non-ownership of land, supremacy
                              of land

Pangapog       Festivity      Thanksgiving and sharing

Abugon         Curse          Reparation and forgiveness

Manawagtawag   Sick           Healing (using herbs and indigenous

Magbana        Calamity       Harmony with nature/ commitment to
                              protect the tribe

Manganiyani    Tree-cutting   Respect, truthfulness and simplicity

Table 2: Frequency distribution of the goals of CBFM

Goals     Social      Political   Economic   Cultural   Total

          No.   %     No.   %     No.   %    No.   %
Goals     2     100                                     2

Goals     1     14    4     57    2     29   0     0    7

Table 3: Frequency distribution of the General Strategies of CBFM

Strategies   Social    Political   Economic   Cultural   Total

             No.   %   No.   %     No.   %    No.   %    No.   %

Strategies         0   1     33    1     33   1     33   3     100

Table 4: Frequency distribution of the Rundown Strategies of CBFM
according to social, political, economic, cultural aspects

Strategies   Social     Political   Economic   Cultural   Total

             No.   %    No.   %     No.   %    No.  %     No.   %

Rundown      2     10   9     45    9     45   0    0     20    100

Table 5: Frequency distribution of the Rundown Strategies of
CBFM according to type of service

Strategies   Business     Organizing   Funding   Total

             No.   %      No.   %      No.   %   No.   %

Rundown      9     39     12    52     2     9   23    100

Table 6: Congruity of CBFM Goals and Strategies and Sama Cultural

                              Sama Cultural
Element    CBFM               Practices                 Decision

Goal       Promotion of       Communal sharing          Congruent
           social justice

Goal       Promotion of       Spirituality and          Congruent
           healthy            environmental
           environment        practices are
                              interconnected and
                              inseparable. Healthy
                              environment is
                              founded on and in
                              respect with the
                              cultural practices

Goal       Sustaining         Commitment to             Incongruent
           forest             environmental
           management         protection and care
                              is innate to every
                              member of the tribe

Goal       Increasing

Strategy   Respecting IP      Aspirations on            Congruent
           rights and         rights to ancestral
           culture            domain and self

Strategy   Uplifting          Environmental             Incongruent
           socio-economic     resources are
           investment         not for global
           and                competitiveness
           contribution,      but for local
           global             consumption; based
           competitiveness,   on the needs of
           increase           the community, not
           revenue and        for business and
           income of          profit.
           and LGUs

Strategy   Pricing            Cultural practices        Incongruent
           forest             founded on spirituality
           products           of sharing not of
                              monetary earnings but
                              materials, tools,
                              time, and labor founded
                              in the spirit of trust,
                              confidence, and
                              reliance with the Data,
                              Magbubugay, Balyan and
                              old folks.
                              All environmental
                              (forest) resources
                              are valuable but it
                              is absurd to put a
                              price on something
                              given by Magbabaya
                              for free.

           land tenure,
           social equity,
           market capital
           and linkage,
           funding, land
           rental and
           forest charges
           income and
           proceeds share,
           and access to
           Allowing and

Strategy   Rehabilitating     Conserving the forest     Incongruent
           the forest by      and giving it the
           means of           opportunity to
           implementing       replenish and
           commercial         regenerate itself.
           plantation and

Strategy   Implementing       Commitment to protect     Incongruent
           Forest Resource    and care for the
           Securitization     environment cannot be
           Strategy           via contractual
                              scheme (especially
                              with profit-oriented

Strategy   Building POs       Strong cultural           Incongruent
           with some          structure with
           members become     reverence to the
           ENRO               tribal leaders,
                              healers and cultural
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Author:Cuizon, Reynaldo O.
Publication:Liceo Journal of Higher Education Research
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Dec 1, 2007
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