A retired teacher from Bagutong is the new leader of the Ybanag Tribe of Flora. Mrs. Evangeline Materum Balderama was endorsed by the Ybanags during a special assembly on March 24 at Bagutong Barangay Hall.
The 67-year old Balderama immediately attended a meeting of all members of the Municipal Council of Indigenous Elders (MCIE) on March 28 at the SB Session Hall.
She replaced the late Federico “Andoy” Feliciano, who recently died of lung illness. Feliciano served for a year following that of the first Ybanag leader Ricardo De San Jose, who was the MCIE President at the time of his death in Dec. 2015.
A total of 840 members of the Ybanag Tribe in Flora had been listed in the official record as surveyed by no less than the current President of the MCIE Antonio Claveria.
Most of the families are found in Bagutong, Malayugan and at Poblacion West and East.
Indigenous Peoples Municipal Representative (IPMR) Richard U. De Jose wants all the Ybanags to give their full support to Mrs. Balderama, who retired as head teacher at Bagutong Elementary School on Dec. 23, 2014.
The endorsement of Mrs. Valderama will be submitted to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
There will be also an assistant, preferably a man, to be selected later. He will not only be present to assist but he will take charge in case Mrs. Valderama is not available such as in meetings and other activities.
All barangays of Flora allocated funds for IP representative through the initiative of the IPMR.
The Barangay IP Rep. will have the same functions as that of an elected Kagawad with the same compensation (honorarium) but he cannot vote and cannot be voted.
In a related development, the IPMR announced that an International Foundation will be conducting surveys on the most indigent families who are members of cultural groups for educational scholarship grants.
ChildFund International, which is based in the United States had already committed to allot 500 beneficiaries each to Flora and Luna.
Priority areas are the remotest barangays like Mallig, Malayugan, Balluyan, Balasi, Atok and Upper Atok etc.
However, the IPMR promised that if there will still be slots available, these will be given to the Ybanags.
IPMR de San Jose, who is an Ybanaga, said there is a 10-year plan of LGU-Flora and that the welfare of IPs is much included in this Plan.
He told of his Dream of a project for Ybanag that will always be remembered like a museum where anyone can visit and everyone has the venue to look back at the past.
Mrs. Valderama thanked the IPMR for putting his trust and confidence on her. She also thanked the tribe members for their endorsement and vowed to do her best “tapno mapa-dur-as daytuy Ibanag Tribe….”
She solicited the help of all Ybanags to continue the unity and committed herself to do more research regarding the history of the tribe.
She wants members to teach their children how to speak the Ybanag language and teach them the old customs and traditions.
An inspirational message was also given by Municipal Vice Mayor Jessica L. De San Jose, who wished that the selected leader must be well-informed and well-versed about the customs and traditions of the Ybanag Tribe. KN