Thursday, March 27, 2008

IPs confer Pacquiao rank of Datu

MALUNGON, Sarangani (March 27, 2008) – Elders of the indigenous people (IP) conferred world boxing champ Manny Pacquiao the rank of datu (tribal leader) as he returned home Wednesday (March 26) to a rousing welcome ceremony in Malungon where he chairs the municipal tourism council.

Pacquiao's title of Datu Damfel Banwe' means "a man with the power to unite the people from all places towards peace and prosperity".

The WBC super featherweight champion arrived at General Santos City airport in the morning.

Pacquiao was joined by South Cotabato Rep. Darlene Antonino-Custodio and General Santos City Mayor Pedro Acharon, Jr. in a motorcade and press conference.

Shortly after, Malungon municipal officials in a motorcade led Pacquiao to the town where he received a hero's welcome at the jam-packed municipal gym.

"Ipinakita nya ang kahalagahan na walang imposible kapag tayo ay may pangarap at inspirasyon," Governor Migs Dominguez said in a welcome message.

Mayor Reynaldo Constantino said he had scheduled Pacquiao's grand welcome in Malungon even before the boxing champ's latest victory against Mexican Juan Manual Marquez.

Malungon is the only landlocked municipality in Sarangani. On its hinterlands are villages of indigenous peoples such as the Tagakaolos and the Blaans.

The province's School of Living Tradition (SLT) project has made the Blaans and the Tagakaolos preserve their heritage of tribal dress weaving and beads making which is also their source of income.

Pacquiao's conferment as datu is in accordance with the Indigenous People's Rights Act (IPRA) or R.A. 8371, recognizing Pacquiao's respect among the country's IPs.

Late last year, Pacquiao joined Environment Secretary Lito Atienza in a reforestation drive in Sarangani's capital town Alabel to protect a watershed there. (SARANGANI INFORMATION OFFICE)

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