Augustus Saboy Memoirs: Venture to Harmony (The Butbut-Sumadel Bodong)

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[Note: This is an unedited portion of Augustus Saboy’s few surviving manuscripts which he had intended to be part of his memoirs he was preparing for publication shortly before his death. Most of what he wrote are now lost. Gus Saboy used to tell me that the Butbut-Sumadel tribal bodong (peace pact) he brokered with a dear family friend, Lutheran Pastor Luis Ao-as was his greatest challenge as a peacemaker.  It was to him more than finishing four-year course.  As far as I know, this peace pact has never been broken since its restoration by these two Kalinga pangat (tribal chiefs/leaders.– Scott Magkachi Saboy]

VENTURE TO HARMONY: THE BUTBUT-SUMADEL BODONG

by Augustus Ulat Saboy

27 June 1981. At 10 o’clock, I dropped at the residence of Rev. Luis L. Ao-as, as usual, for the exchange of ideas and on current events in the province.  Of course, the main menu of our brainstorming was the tribal conflicts in Kalinga and how we could contribute our share in the resolution of these tribal problems in the interest of harmonious co-existence among Kalinga rocked, at this point and time, with deep-seated tribal animosities.

This morning’s visit, however, we immediately plunged into a serious discussion on the Botbot-Sumadel tribal conflict.  I asked if the information is true that he will make another attempt at getting the Botbot and Sumadel people smoke the peace pipe.  Forthwith, he revealed his plan to entreat me to join him in this trip.

The good Pastor was so pushy in his suggestion that I join the mission with him, emphatically stressing his observation that of all the Kalingas in Tabuk I was preferred to join as member of the peace mission.

Nota Bene: The Botbot-Sumadel Peace Mission was handled by four groups which attempted to restore the broken peace pact.

♥ On New Year’s Day, 1980, the CPP/NPA tried to negotiate for the restoration of the Bodong.  Ka Ambo (Fr. Balweg), Ka Sungar (Ernesto Garado), Ka Yokan (Cesar BaroÑa), et al., . had tried to work out the sipat but it fouled up for reasons not yet known.

♥ The KSDR under Odiem with BM Galming, et al., coming in but failed to get the sipat

♥ The PC-INP with Col. Mayangao on the spearhead attempted but failed

♥ The Municipal Council under Mayor Bagtang scheduled a meeting with Jose Chaclag in Dananao but the Sumadel panel boycotted the meeting

In all these conferences, Pastor Ao-as had been participating.  His renewed drive was to get new faces in the mission and Rev. Ao-as seemed determined to get me into the team.

I felt flattered.  However, knowing fully well the sincerity, honesty and integrity of Pastor Ao-as, I decided to join him in the VENTURE FOR HARMONY.

In April 1976, Governor Tanding B. Odiem approached me in Baguio City and offered me a government position in his Office as Executive Assistant.  It was a difficult decision to make since I was revving up my “Northern Luzon Bureau” of the Philippines News Agency (PNA) which I headed as Bureau Chief.  It was my brainchild and was approved for full operations by my boss, Mr. Jose L. Pavia.

It took me sleepless nights to ponder on the Odiem offer.  I enjoyed my job, and I was getting full support from the Manila office for the “Northern Luzon Bureau” which had linked three regions — I, CAR and II — to Baguio as the relay center for the Manila Central Bureau.

On the other hand, I thought it was an attractively challenging job.  I know Governor Odiem would look me into running the affairs of the provincial government.  He was the concurrent Administrator of the Kalinga Special Development Region which was in the forefront of the anti-Dam IV demonstrations.  So, I expected that he would bank on me on the administration of the provincial affairs aspect.  Odiem was so insistent that when he was interviewed over Station DZHB, he announced that I had accepted his offer to be his Executive Assistant in the Office of the Governor of Kalinga-Apayao to the cheers of my media colleagues in the Station.  What finally made me decide was Odiem’s statement to me: “I have full confidence in you!” That was more than I had expected from him to tell me.

At this period of Kalinga’s situation, the anti-dam demonstration was in full swing.  Barricades were set up in Tomiangan at the confluence of the Chico and Pasil Rivers.  I knew then that I would be “where the action is.”  Thus, on my first day in Office, I ran smuck on the problem of giving ideas on how we would soften the impact of the anti-dam demonstrations which was spearheaded by PANAMIN.  It was an opportunity again to work with the PANAMIN team which I joined in 1974 during the information drive on the Presidential Decree abolishing the Commission on National Integration and establishing the PANAMIN in its stead. In this information drive I served as the news reporter cum photographer of the information team headed by then Col. Artajo. We breezed through Benguet, Mt. Province, Kalinga-Apayao, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya and Ifugao and after the sorties, I was ordered to go to Manila where I was ushered to the Manila Royal Hotel on Echague (Room 1110) where I was asked to “lodge” for one whole week to draft the PANAMIN Report for submission to President Marcos.

This Report was the basis of the PANAMIN Report to President Marcos on the Kalinga Situation and the reactions of the people on the abolition of CNI and the taking over of its functions by PANAMIN.  In the report also were recommendations on the Kalinga situation, especially the Dam Problem.  Among these recommendations was the creation of an Agency patterned after the Metro-Manila Development Authority.  The recommendation may have influenced the eventual establishment of the KALINGA SPECIAL DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (KSDA).

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