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Sea–dwelling tribe claims sea as ancestral domain
SITANGKAI, TAWI–TAWI—Sowang Pukul, which literally means broken river, has no river at all. It is in the middle of the Sulu Sea and not an island in sight.

Atiyan Gollom told Inside Mindanao that Sowang Pukul used to be the home of the Bajau tribe, also known as Sama Dilaut. Houses of the Bajau called lumah, from afar, are like floating houses. Long wooden posts buried deep into the sandy sea-bottom keep the lumah still.

Through the years, Mr. Gollom, one of the handful Bajau who choose to remain at Sowang Pukul, said that about 300 Bajau families have already left Sowang Pukul and opted to migrate to Semporna, Sabah, Malaysia (which can be reached via 3–hour motorized boat ride); while others opted to settle at the nearby island which can be reached by 20–minute motorized boat ride. Sowang Pukul is part of Sitangkai town, Tawi–Tawi province.

Sabtal Putalhangin, a Bajau teacher at the Mindanao State University High School in Sitangkai town, told Inside Mindanao that the influx of evacuees, belonging to the Tausug tribe from the neighboring province of Sulu, is one of the causes of the Bajau displacement at Sowang Pukul.

Mr. Putalhangin said, "The Bajau tribe is a peace–loving tribe. Conflict with other tribes like that of the Tausug is often dealt with by fleeing to other places." READ MORE >>>

From the forest to the sea: The need to protect Mt. Hamiguitan, Pujada Bay and Cape San Agustin
SAN ISIDRO, DAVAO ORIENTAL—Scientists recently found an unknown aquatic plant specie at Mt. Hamiguitan, a mountain which straddles on two municipalities, San Isidro and Governor Generoso, and the city of Mati; all in the province of Davao Oriental.

In an expedition conducted in July 2008 to Mt. Hamiguitan, Dr. Thomas Gronemeyer, biochemist; Stewart McPherson, geologist; and Volker Heinrich, agricultural scientist reported that the finding of a so far unknown aquatic plant specie of bladderwort (genus Utricularia) promotes the assumption that "more species of either carnivorous plants, orchids, or even mammals can be found in unexplored areas of the Hamiguitan massive."

The scientists also reported that two species of carnivorous pitcher plants, N. peltata and N. spec H, seem to be endemic to Mt. Hamiguitan.

"The fact that two... species (N. peltata and N. spec H) seem to be endemic to Mt. Hamiguitan underlines the importance of the protection of the whole area," the scientists said in their report. READ MORE >>>

Lake Mainit and the people thriving around it
Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte — People who are unfamiliar with Lake Mainit call the rising of the lake water — the drowning of thousands of farmlands around the lake during the months of November to March — as flooding. Farmers around Lake Mainit, meanwhile, call this rising of lake water as guob — the normal rising of the lake water.

This rising of lake water coincides with the heavy rainfall in Lake Mainit and surrounding areas from November to March.

Just along the lakeshore of Lake Mainit in the village of Crossing, Kitcharao, Eusebio Narada has a half hectare rice field. Narada, a member of Lapucon Farmers Organization, said in the dialect, "The farmers here follow the lake water."

He said the lake water starts to rise in the month of November. In the month of April, he said, the lake water starts to recede. With his farmland just beside the lake, Narada said he is always the last one to plant rice — normally in the month of May when the lake water is fully out of the way. And as rice has a lifespan of three months, Narada said he can only plant rice twice a year.

Like Narada, thousands of other farmers around Lake Mainit rely on this seasonal fluctuation of the water level in the lake. READ MORE >>>

Mindanao Travel Series

Mindanao Travel Series documents on film the natural beauty of specific communities in Mindanao.

Moro Underground Music
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Mindanao Travel Series features Lake Mainit
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Mindanao Travel Series features
Mt. Hamiguitan,
Pujada Bay and Cape San Agustin
(3-minute preview)

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full 15-minute documentary film

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for more documentary films