Buklog, one of the religious ceremonies in Zamboanga del Sur, has finally been added to UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.
The buklog is a thanksgiving ritual practiced by the Subanen, an indigenous tribe residing in Zamboanga del Sur, to appease the nature gods and protect their community and land from misfortunes. The ritual begins with the erection of a buklogan or a ceremonial platform that people take turns dancing on while agong and kulintang music is played.
According to UNESCO, the buklog is highly vulnerable to the “influx of other cultures into the Subanen’s traditional homeland, changes in family dynamics, and economic constraints.” Cultural experts note that the Subanen have been practicing the ritual less and less due to high costs and foreign religious influences.
Despite this, the buklog remains the community’s strongest unifying force. “[Buklog is] part of the social fabric of Mindanao in the southern Philippines,” Ambassador Maria Theresa Lazaro, permanent delegate to UNESCO says. “We see this inscription as strengthening the bonds of fraternity and solidarity in a resilient region that seeks to permanently replace conflict and discontent with peace, hope, and sustainable development.”
The ritual’s inclusion on the list would help “mobilize attention and international cooperation,” which includes financial support to help ensure that the practice remains relevant in the face of modern-day threats.
Writer: ANGELA PATRICIA SUACILLO