Church addresses concerns of Mindanao nomads

ZAMBOANGA CITY, May 20, 2008—The Catholic Church in Mindanao has been spearheading concerted efforts to provide pastoral care to nomads.

“SAMA-Bajau” is a name tagged to a group considered the poorest among the poor tribes known especially in Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Zamboanga Peninsula.

The third National Assembly for the Pastoral Care of Nomads and Bajaus in the Philippines was held at Samal-Bajau to address pastoral issues surrounding these tribes, April 4-6.

Through the contact of Fr. Renato Rosso, a missionary in Mindanao, with the nomads of the region since 2004, Church’s pastoral concern for nomads was initiated. Since then, about 20 people work with the Samal-Bajaus in Isabela City, Maluso, Siasi, Jolo, Bongao, Pagadian, General Santos, and Zamboanga since 2005.

To address issues and concerns of the nomads, a coordinating body has been formed comprising of Bishop Angelito R. Lampon, OMI, of Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo as President; Fr. Angel Calvo, CMF, Prefect of Apostolate Claretian Missionaries, Zamboanga as Vice President; Fr. Dennis G. Tamayo, CMF, Project-In-Charge, Claret Samal Foundation, Inc., Townsite, Maluso, Basilan Province as Secretary; and Sr. Norma N. Capampangan, FMM, and Sr. Julie Calumpang, FMM, Notre Dame of Siasi as Treasurer.

It is overwhelming to note that many church leaders, lay people and others are showing greater interest to initiate and facilitate efforts to take care of nomads pastorally, said Rosso.

Many others have also extended their support for the cause of nomads including 30 concerned partners coming from Claret Samal Foundation, Inc., Community Extension Services of Notre Dame of Jolo College, Asia Foundation, Catholic Relief Services, Asisi Foundation, Peace Advocates Zamboanga, Lumah Ma Dilaut: Center for Living Traditions, National Commission on Indigenous People-Region IX, ARMM, Notre Dame of Mapun, Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo, Maluso Bajau People’s Organization, National Sama Badjao Movement, and Sama Bajau Tribal Group.

In the past, documentation of the Samal-Bajau cultural elements and comprehensive program for the welfare of the nomads were established.

In addition, a Comprehensive Problem Analysis and Programming was intended to serve as a baseline data for the third Assembly and meant to improve the programs and efforts of the organizations committed to address the plight of the Samal-Bajaus.

During the meeting, participants discussed to come up with a document on the recent Bajau cultural condition in the southern Philippines.

The most significant output of the gathering was to achieve a draft of the Assembly’s vision, which will strengthen the unity and deepen the pastoral commitment for nomads. (Santosh Digal) (CBCPNews)

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