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The fiction of maternal disqualification otherwise known as Usbat Babay

Potential successors to the hereditary leadership can either be from a maternal or paternal
origin. A person can succeed to one of the many titles of his blood relatives whether from his mothers
family or from that of the fathers side. This is by virtue of the fact that the birth of the child is the basis
of bilateral kinship in the Tagbanuwa society. Fox describes the social organization of the Tagbanuwa
by the following:

xxxThe basic kinship and economic unit of Tagbanuwa society is the two generational elementary
family, the mother, father and the unmarried children. This is also the charactectic household unit.
Kinship is reckoned with both the maternal and paternal kin, yielding a bilateral type of social
structure.

The potential family, which I have defined as the unit composed of a husband and a wife, is
characteristically unstable. The birth of a child, however, activates a four generational bilateral
kinship structure and strengthens the tenuous conjugal ties. Thus this kinship structure centers
on the child, for the child is an equal blood relative of both his mothers and his fathers relatives,
while his parents stand in a relatively delicate affinal relationship to each others relatives. The
Tagbanuwa firmly distinguished relationship by blood and marriage. The child, by virtue of
affiliation, is eligible for inheritance, succession, and so forth, from both his maternal and
paternal kin. His parents, on the contrary, can make no such claims on their affinal relatives. In short,
the birth of the child formalizes the bilateral family.(pp 53) xxx

It is thus clear from the above statements that there was no maternal disqualification as to
inheritance and succession of hereditary titles. Bilateral kinship being activated at the moment of birth
of the child. This explains how the successors of the masikampu title was qualified to inherit in the first
place. Insofar as the successor is a blood relative of a masikampu he is eligible to inherit the position.

The oversimplification of sukat et dugo

The sukat ng dugo cannot be given any consideration during the succession. There was no means of
ascertaining measures of blood nor was there any imposed requirement or any anthropological basis for
the same. As fox said;

xxxkinship structure centers on the child, for the child is an equal blood relative of both
his mothers and his fathers relatives, while his parents stand in a relatively delicate affinal
relationship to each others relatives.xxx

Since the birth of the child formalizes the bilateral family, the child is considered as an equal
blood relative of both his mothers and his fathers relatives.

Reason for the patrilineal emphasis

As can be noted, the Tagbanuwa, has maternal emphasis due to the practice of matrilocal residence
where the husband lives with the natal village of his wife. It can be noted that the maternal kin enjoys
greater advantage since the potential husband brings in all his properties to the matrilocal residence of
his wife. In the past, the bilateral family emphasizes more on maternal authority.
However, due to the inroads of colonization by Christians, paternal authority dominated the society.
Fox described this as follows:

xxxAs a consequence of population pressure and changing social values, a sizable number of
Tagbanuwa are now beginning to register and pay taxes of their traditional lands. The titles are being
placed in the names of the male heads of elementary families, and it is generally felt that the land
should pass to and be used by male heirs, if there are any. If this trend continues, it will have a
great effects upon the customary pattern of matrilocal residence and upon general matrilateral
emphasis or dominance in affinal relationships.

Correlated with the necessity of satisfying legal obligations in dealing with Christians, such as
in registering lands, the Tagbanua have also adopted patri-nominals. All children are taking the names
of their fathers as their surnames. Limwans fathers name, for example, is Imag. The wife retains her
surname but daughters take the name of their fathers. The generation of Imag, which is now
grandparental, had no surnames, as is true of all Philippine pagans. 20 This change, of course, is a
consequence of Christian influence, but it also expresses a growing patrilateral emphasis which is
correlated with the new concepts of property rights. (pp 84-85)xxx

One of the consequences of this paternal dominance is that most of those who are not
knowledgeable of our customary laws and practices often assume that one cannot succeed to the title of
masikampu if he is of matrilineal origin. However, although the social structure of bilateral kinship has
already settled the same, it would also undermine the importance of the matrilocality as well as
matrilateral empahsis or dominance in affinal relationships. Hence, maternal disqualification on
account of what is called Usbat Babay was only a consequence of Christian influence which has
changed the former into paternal dominance in the Tagbanuwa society.

The formal requirements of succession

Fox describes the that the Tausog has greatly influenced the political development of the Tagbanuwa.
He also noted the following:

xxxAll informants agree that the minor titles held by the Tagbanuwa ginu?u were given to them by the
Suluk. These were probably the Taosug, the moros of Jolo island, who had the best and highest
political development of any of the Moros. The entire Taosug group were united in the Sulatanate of
Sulu and brought under their dominion large parts of Borneo and Palawan. (pp 131)xxx

In the manner of tradition in the selection of the sultan, the tausog succession of political office was
recorded by E.P. Patanne under the following:

The Tausug, like other Malay peoples, have always valued the wisdom and experience of their
elders; hence, they always preferred to have a mature datu as sultan.
Custom has prescribed that no one below 14 or 15 years of age could become sultan. In
certain instances, when this principle was invoked, quite often the followers of the young sultan and
those of older claimants went to war. For instance, succession to the sultanate of Magindanao following

20 It is interesting to note that the native Tagbanuwa names will be perpetuated as a result of the way they are now forming
surnames. Historically, the people throughout the Philippines received Spanish patri-nominals when they were baptized
by the priests. Moreover, Spanish names have replaced the given names of most Philippine peoples.
the death of the Sultan Barahaman was contested by his son Maramir and his brother Kahar-ud-Din and
both sultans stirred up a civil war in 1701. (Filipino Heritage pp1297 by EP Patanne)

On the other hand, according to the custom of Sulu:

Succession to the sultanate was not normally of the linear type. Brothers and nephews have
succeeded to the throne. A chance was often given for a son of a previous sultan to become one
himself, but not in direct succession to his deceased fatherxxx (Filipino Heritage pp1262 Cesar Adib
Majul)

In the Tagbanuwa world, fox observed the following customs and requirements for succession:

Social Class and Political Structures. Tagbanuwa society is stratified, class positions being
determined by bilateral filiation. There are only two social classes at present; the high blood called
ginu?u in Baraki or Bagerar in Apis, and the low bloods, the dulu/an or timawa?. A third class of
service-debtors or ?uripun (usually referred to as slaves in the literature) was formerly recognized.
The members of the high bloods are actually the bilateral descendants of ginu?u, that is, the
hereditary leaders who act either as the judges during the councils or who defend the litigants. Any
male descendant of a hereditary leader who would be a high blood is eligible for succession to one of
the many titles. As succession does not follow a preferential pattern the term hereditary leader would
appear to be misleading. However, a man must be a high blood, the descendant of a ginu?u, to be a
potential leader, and there are a number of formal factors which enhance the eligibility of a man for
succession. First, title pass most often to lineal kinsmen rather than to collateral relatives.
Genealogies show that sons commonly succeed to the titles of their fathers. This latter tendency is
modified, however, by the relative age of the eligible successors. Tagbanuwa society, as has been
seen, is generationally structured; authority and respect are equated seniority. If titles were
always to pass directly from father to a son or from an uncle to a nephew, regardless of the age of
the son or nephew, there would be a contradiction of this basic principle. A case in point is
obtained by an analysis of the succession of the masikampu, the highest ranking Tagbanuwa title (see
Appendix I). The present masikampu, Clemente Bulunan, is the thirteenth one. His father, however, was
the eight masikampu, and his mothers father, the seventh, (his father married his first parallel cousin).
The ninth through the twelfth masikampu were collateral relatives of Clemente and his father. The
eleventh masikampu, was actually a nephew of Clemente. But all of these men were much older that
Clemente and thus succeeded to the title before him.
Limited by the above tendencies which influence succession, titles pass to the male relatives
who have shown the greatest interest in and knowledge of jural procedures. Men who are eligible
for a title and interested in law participate continually in the surugidin or councils, learning all
the nuances of argumentation and decision making. xxx(pp 124)

Generally, the hereditary leaders have a deep understanding of the mechanisms of Tagbanuwa society;
moreover, they are conscious of and concerned with problems of social stability. The tenth masikampu,
Kursud (ca. 1910), increased the amounts of divorce fines in an attempt to discourage wife stealing
and divorce, although wholly unsuccessful.

Xxxthe Tagbanuwa law, though steeped with tradition, is a living systemxxx (pp 125)

Taking from the above examples, in order that one can be eligible for succession he must possess the
following:
a. a man must be a high blood, the descendant of a ginu?u, to be a potential leader;
b. Age, because authority and respect are equated seniority;
c. Interest in and knowledge of jural procedures;
d. Must participate continually in the surugidin or councils, learning all the nuances of
argumentation and decision making;
e. Lastly, taking from the customs regarding selection, a candidate must be an original
member of the council of elders constituting the qualified successors.

Rituals surrounding the anointment of a masikampu

The Tagbanuwa political structure is deeply interwoven with religious beliefs and practices. Notable
from all rituals is the firing of a gun from the shoulder and reciting an oath. This was stated by Fox
according to the following:

xxxAll informants agree that the minor titles held by the Tagbanuwa ginu?u were given to them by the
Suluk. These were probably the Taosug, the moros of Jolo island, who had the best and highest
political development of any of the Moros. The entire Taosug group were united in the Sulatanate of
Sulu and brought under their dominion large parts of Borneo and Palawan. My genealogies also show
numerous recent instances in which Tagbanuwa men were given titles by Moro ambassadors of a
Sultan or Datu. Dangus, the powerful leader in the mountain village of Sasagdan, was appointed a
Nakib which is a Moro title by a Radya Muda (heir-apparent) named Adasa form Moroland. It is said
that these Moro ambassadors and traders carried brass guns a small muzzle loading tyoe called ?ukab
?ukab and a still larger form called tu?ud tu?ud. The Moro ambassador placed one of these guns on
the shoulder of the Tagbanuwa appointee and fired it. At the same time the ambassador
announced the appointee and recited a formula: May your stomach burst like this gun, if you
fail in the performance of you duties. This custom was adopted and continued by the
masikampu who subsequently appointed most of the minor hereditary leaders. It is not practiced
at present because none of these guns is available. In the past when a masikampu died his gun was fired
and then placed on top of his grave as talang or grave furniture. (pp 130-131)xxx

The emphasis of knowledge on customary laws

Generally, the hereditary leaders have a deep understanding of the mechanisms of Tagbanuwa society;
moreover, they are conscious of and concerned with problems of social stability. (Fox pp 125)
Fox also added that xxxx titles pass to the male relatives who have shown the greatest interest in and
knowledge of jural procedures. Men who are eligible for a title and interested in law participate
continually in the surugidin or councils, learning all the nuances of argumentation and decision making.
Knowledge of customary laws and the nuances of councils are usually learned by participating therein.
It is also customary for fathers to train their children as their successors. It was also through this
process that the Tagbanuwa was able preserve their customary laws for many generations. Interest is a
key to learning.
An eligible successor is trained by his father except only when the latter latter died while the
successor was still at a tender age. This happened when Dadung died and Sergio, his eldest son was
still two years old. This also happened when Bulunan died and Clemente was still very young.
When Orlando died, Kim was only 15 years old.
If this situation occurs, the potential knowledge is cut. The successor would then be inelligible
for the position since a hereditary leaders responsibility involves political and jural functions. The
influence and control in traditional leadership is based, generally, on the intelligence and capacity of a
successor. This can be noted that when Kursud died, Ampun was the highly trained among his sons.
Fox noted the importance of thorought knowledge of tradition and custom law during councils held by
a traditional leader:
xxxThe decision reached in these informal councils normally represent a consensus of the opinions of
the ginu?u present; decisions which have been obtained by numerous agreements. Then the older or the
ranking hereditary leader acting as the judge formulates the decision. The opinions of all the
hereditary leaders present are heard and evaluated. Friendly and personable ginu?u with a convincing
council-manner are most effective, for if an overly aggressive and heated approach were used by a
ginu?u it might lead to conflict. Subtlety and a thorough knowledge of tradition and custom law
provide for the winning framework. Direct challenges and contradictions of viewpoints of other
ginu?u might lead to a magical retaliation (see chapter III). In the past, particularly in very delicate
cases, the hereditary leaders used a sort of circumlocution in the councils the ?alimbawa, in which the
individuals and issues under discussion were never directly mentioned. By using ?alimbawa none of
the participants lost face. (pp 128)
It was also described that xxxthe Tagbanuwa law, though steeped with tradition, is a living
systemxxx (pp 125) This also explains why children are not eligible for succession. Only those who
have taken interest and participated during conflict resolutions or councils and having thorough
knowledge of the customary laws can become potential successors.

Fox describes, that Tagbanuwa society gives extensive recognition to generation. The
relationship between alternating generations is one of respect but also of familiarity, and involves
reciprocal kinship terms of grandchidren and grandparents. It would seem that the intimacy which is
characteristic of grandparent-grandchildren relationships reflects their respective positions in the
life cycle; that the grandchildren are literally replacing their grandparents. In bilateral societies
there is also a structural explanation for this specific type of relationship. The birth of a child, as I have
noted, activates the bilateral family. The child, unlike his parents, is equally related to all four
grandparents. Thus, there is a unique bond of kinship established between the alternating generations of
grandchildren and grandparents.
The relationship between successive generations is one of marked respect and of less
familiarity, for this relationship involves training and discipline, as in the parent-child tie. (pp 54-55)
There is greater emphasis on the intimacy shared between grandparents and grandchildren.
Ampun, who was the eldest grandson of Kursud, was treated by his grandfather as his own son. He was
also trained to become a masikampu as he did with his sons. Since Ampun did not have a real father,
Kursud has become his paternal figure as he also lives with him. Relatively, Ampun, was only younger
by one year than Emilio, the youngest son of Kursud with his first wife Diked. Knowledge about
customary laws and with the shared intimacy between Ampun and Kursud, Ampun was the most
intensively trained among eligible successors in the bloodline of Kursud.
Fox describes Ampun Huya as a very pominent and intelligent Tagbanuwa (page 72). Some say
he was a chinese, but, for a person who has served as masikampu for 27 long years, no one has ever
contested his authority. It was also stated that, xxxpast mayors, such as Ampun, have been Tagbanuwa.
Generally speaking, the Tagbanuwa have been and are well represented in the municipal
governmentxxx(pp 140)
Even before his assumption as masikampu, Ampun was already well versed of the customs and
traditions of the Tagbanuwa. He even defended Santus during the council (pp 72). He also traveled
widely throughout the domain of the cultural minorities as he functioned as the appeals judge during
councils. Anthropologist Harold Olofson in his research conducted in 1979,
xxxThe second informant was Ignacio Joya, who had the title of Masikampu (Maestro de Campo). Fox
describes this title as being given to the appeals judge for all of the Tagbanwa. As such, Joya had
traveled widely in the area, and this was reflected in what he knew of enchanted forests, as he called
them in English, for the six he told us about were in three towns and in six different barangays. His
travels had also made him knowledgeable in legend and shamanic myth, for he described two of the
sites as associated with events in the life of the Tagbanuwa culture hero, the shaman Bungkayaw. At
one of them, this culture hero had been able to magically resurrect a molave tree that had fallen over. A
third site was at a stream with a whirlpool leading down into an underground river. This river was
inhabited by two sting rays connected by a common umbilical cord. Two others of his sites also had
stones. In the center of one, two small stone charms (mutya), which were in the shape of machetes,
lay upon a small stone table in the center of the forest. In the other, a stone seven by seven meters in
size was inhabited by a spirit; from it, two trees grew, a dakalan and a balinda dagat. He had visited
each of these with a companion, and each time either he or his friend had gotten ill upon reaching
home.xxx

As I have indicated, The highest jural and political office among the Tagbanuwa is the masikampu,
thus, as an appeals judge he has to travel to all villages in Palawan to give advise and councils among
his people. As can be noted, Ampun was a Tagbanuwa Palawanin by reason of intermarriage of Kursud
with Diked, a daughter of the highest Panglima in the Palawanin tribe. The affinal influence of which
was exercised by Ampun.
Ampun also had the largest herd of cattle over all the Province ranging from 500 to 800 cattles.
One of his cowboys was Bobby Cursod, the second son of Dadung. Bobby Cursod had no knowledge
regarding the customary laws since he had no formal training from his father. Since Dadung died while
Bobby was only 1 year old and the fact remains that he was stationed only in Apurawan as a cowboy to
Masikampu Ampun. He did not participate in any jural procedures nor has taken interest in or had
knowledge of the customary laws and practices from surigidin councils in many Tagbanuwa villages.
Ampun also became a mayor of Aborlan. Prior to that he was teacher in Apurawan, one of the
Tagbanuwa villages in west coast. He was not only a Tagbanuwa by heart, but he was the most eligible
successor as masikampu who has taken interest in jural procedures. Although, during his assumption,
he was the only remaining successor from the council of elders after Clemente resigned. To conclude,
the authority of Masikampu Ampun is beyond contestation. It can be said that the true knowledge of
customs laws and traditions were preserved by Ampun from his grandfather and during his reign for 27
years.

The pattern of succession

The council of elders


The intrusion of a political element by replacing the masikampu

III. The events surrounding the succession of masikampu


the council of elders
pabatid as a sign of confirmation
the inviolability of word of honor

IV. Masikampu Ruben C. Joya Sr., as the most qualified appointee