Lawel e dad tô de lagad: An Ethnography of the Collective Wisdom of the Blaans on Disaster Management and Environmental Conservation

  • Jovanie Camacho Espesor Mindanao State University - General Santos City
Keywords: indigenous knowledge, Blaans, Sarangani, disaster management, mountain ecosystem


The Blaan communities in the hinterlands of Sarangani are continually exposed to different forms andtypes of environmental hazards. These hazards are brought about by disasters such as droughts, landslide, soilerosion, flooding and infestation of rats and swarm of locusts on agricultural crops. This paper seeks to providea thick and rich description of the indigenous knowledge of the Blaans on disaster management and environmentalconservation. It discusses and analyzes various environmental hazards identified and experiencedby the Blaans in the mountain ecosystems of Sarangani. Another aim of this study is to analyze thefunction of the social network of the tribe and their coping mechanisms in confronting the effects of naturaldisasters. This study utilizes first-hand information that are gathered through intensive ethnographic field observations in the hinterlands of Sarangani. Participatory Rapid Field Appraisal strategies were used to engage the members of the community as primary participants of the study. Moreover, key informant interviewsamong senior members of Blaan tribes and focus group discussions are used to supplement information generated through participatory research approaches. This study concludes that the Blaans in the mountainous parts of Sarangani have immense collective wisdom on disaster management and environmental conservation,which they have learned from their forefathers. Nonetheless, this vast knowledge system of the Blaans is gradually eroding due to dwindling interest of the younger generations and disappearance of the natural landscape that serves as the social laboratory for the Blaans to learn about the kanfulong de tribu.

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Author Biography

Jovanie Camacho Espesor, Mindanao State University - General Santos City

Department of Political Science, Mindanao State University - General Santos City

Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand

Figure 1. Map of the Calminda Watershed.