In celebration of a fruitful year since the digitized Postal ID was first issued, the Philippine Postal Corporation (PHLPost) decided to pay it forward and give back to the community by bringing the service and providing free IDs to the locals of Butbut tribe in Buscalan, Kalinga. The mobile capturing event is part of the ID’s month-long anniversary celebration entitled, “Postal ID Summer-Fun Kaarawan”.
In partnership with the independent volunteering tour group WE VolunTour, PHLPost facilitated the Postal ID capturing service on May 21, 2017. Simultaneously, a gift-giving activity sponsored by various brands like Mongol, LK Art, Starnotes, Seven Notes and Richeese was conducted for the children of the community.
Among the applicants was Buscalan’s last mambabatok, Apo Whang-od, who just turned 100 years old last February. She intends to use the ID to receive additional benefits from the government, as per the Centenarian Act of 2016.
A concealed paradise within the Cordilleras, Kalinga is home to tattooed women and warriors who embody the rich culture and traditions of Filipino indigenous people (IP)—one of the most prominent being the Butbut tribe. Approximately 129 households occupy the small village, surrounded by the panoramic rice terraces and breathtaking mountain ranges the place is particularly well-known for. Taking at least a three-hour ride and a 40-minute trek to get to the town proper, the tribe enjoys the serenity and tranquillity that can only come from their simple way of life.
Given the remoteness of the area, the mobile capturing event was a first for the residents of Buscalan. As stated by Tribe Leader Gaspar Laguinday, if they needed to get an identification card, they would have to endure a long journey to Tabuk where the government offices are situated.
“Natuwa sila nang malaman nilang dadalhin ng PHLPost ang capturing station dito, at bibigyan sila ng libreng Postal ID. Halos tatlong oras ang layo ng Tabuk sa amin, kaya marami dito ang hindi na nag-aabalang kumuha pa ng ID [They were thrilled when they heard that PHLPost is going to bring the capturing station here, and will give them free IDs. Tabuk is almost three hours away that most locals don’t bother getting valid IDs anymore],” Tatay Gaspar stated with a smile. “Pero nang malaman nila na darating ang PHLPost dito, masayang-masaya sila. Nag-unahan pa sila sa pag-a-apply ng ID [But when they heard that PHLPost was coming here, they were so happy. They even fought over who gets to apply first,]” he added.
For local farmer Juanita Banao, however, the ID will do more than prove her identity. “Sabi ng lider namin sa amin, magagamit namin ang Postal ID sa mga transaksyon sa iba’t-ibang ahensya ng gobyerno, pati na sa pagkuha ng trabaho [Our leader told us we can use the Postal ID when making transactions with government agencies, and even in securing jobs],” she said. Being a single parent, Juanita sees the ID as a window of opportunity to create a greater livelihood to better support her five children.
By providing free Postal IDs to IPs, PHLPost is fulfilling its advocacy to make credible identity verification attainable for everyone. The members of the Butbut tribe may be relatively distant in terms of proximity, but the values, customs and beliefs they uphold take a significant part of the Filipino history and culture as a whole. ###