This 2018 file photo shows a group of ritual specialists gather at the special offering altar while a member of the community places an offering in the "sangat."
National Commission for Culture and the Arts of the Philippines/Released, file
Subanen thanksgiving ritual added to UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list
Rosette Adel ( - December 12, 2019 - 8:41pm

MANILA, Philippines— A committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on Tuesday inscribed the Subanen thanksgiving ritual system on its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.

Buklog, the elaborate thanksgiving ritual system of the Subanen, an indigenous people of the Zamboanga Peninsula, was among the five practices inscribed on the UNESCO list.

The four others are as follows:

  • Seperu folkdance and associated practices of Botswana

  • Rituals and practices associated with Kit Mikayi shrine of Kenya

  • Sega tambour Chagos of Mauritius’

  • Spring rite of Jurauski Karahod of Belarus

The practices were inscribed during the meeting in the Bogota, Colombia last Tuesday.

During the said Subanen thanksgiving ritual, "dances are performed on an elevated wooded structure where its name is derived, buklog." This resonates a sound believed to please the spirits, according to UNESCO.

The dance is followed by a community dance “to mark the renewal of social ties.”

The rituals of the Subanen “express gratitude to the spirits and are meant to secure harmony within the community, and in relations to the human, natural and spiritual worlds.”

UNESCO said the Subanen have developed “highly adaptive mechanisms” to safeguard the ritual but it faces severe interrelated threats and constraints that compromise its viability.

Last year, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines nominated the Buklog to the UNESCO list.

Aside from Buklog, three other practices have been inscribed on the list: Darangen epic of the Maranao people of Lake Lanao and Hudhud chants of the Ifugao in 2008,  and the Punnuk tugging ritual of the Ifugao in 2015.

The list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Safeguarding was established by the UNESCO and is “composed of intangible heritage elements that concerned communities and States Parties consider require urgent measures to keep them alive.”

Inscription on the list, the organization said, will “help to mobilize international cooperation and assistance for stakeholders to undertake appropriate safeguarding measures.”

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