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Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan 
79th Commencement Exercises
22 March 2018 

For the last few decades, Datu Migketay Victorino L Saway has championed the Lumad cause. A Lumad leader, environmentalist, peacekeeper, and academic, Datu Migketay has been part of numerous initiatives to promote the rights of indigenous peoples and their culture and build lasting peace in Mindanao.

A Mindanao Bridging Leadership Fellow, Datu Migketay — or Datu Vic, as he is affectionately known by some — has a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from Silliman University, and has also been trained in Philippine Studies. He has also been part of various training programs on Grassroots Democracy and Diplomacy.

The tribal custodian of the Talaandig Ancestral Territory in Songco, Lantapan, Bukidnon, Datu Migketay has worked tirelessly to preserve the traditions of his people. Advocating for the strengthening of the authenticity of customary leadership, he reviewed the traditional governance structure of the Talaandig, Bukidnon, Higaonon, and Manobo tribes. Datu Vic is the chairperson of the Bukidnon Indigenous Peoples Advisory Council. He made significant contributions to establishing the national legal framework for preserving indigenous peoples’ identity, ancestral domain, and social justice. He also actively lobbied for the passage of and led the Drafting Committee for the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA).

Working to preserve the Lumad heritage in the midst of rapid modernization, Datu Migketay has been a key figure in numerous government initiatives to assist communities on the fringes of development. He also helped lead food security programs through sustainable agriculture and resource management. Datu Migketay has been an ardent advocate of culturally-appropriate and inclusive community development in Mindanao.

As a strong promoter of bringing Moros and Lumads together to foster peace in Mindanao, Datu Migketay helped convene tribal leaders to contribute to the ongoing peace talks between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the national government. Furthermore, he initiated the documentation of the Traditional Peace Agreements, which established the boundaries of ancestral territories of Mindanawon tribes.

Datu Migketay’s advocacies have brought him to the international stage. He has presented papers on conflict prevention, customary laws, the protection of ancestral domains, and the preservation of local knowledge systems to various audiences around the world, including the United Nations.

While his work has taken him all over the world, Datu Migketay continues to nurture his home community in Songco. He founded the Talaandig School for Living Traditions and established the Talaandig Hall of Peace. To this day, these two institutions remain significant hallmarks of the community, both in imparting Lumad beliefs and practices, and in facilitating dialogue with various entities.

Under his leadership, his small community has welcomed many delegations from across the globe. Allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the Talaandig way of life, he has helped deepen the appreciation and respect for the indigenous peoples.

Even as he staunchly represents the Lumad in many different contexts, Datu Migketay plants the seeds for the future of his people. Aiming to strengthen the transfer of knowledge to future generations, and preserve the Talaandig heritage, he continues to facilitate dialogue between the youth and elders of his community. Through the youth, his advocacy of preserving the rights, cultures, and traditions of indigenous communities will be sustained into the future. 

In recognition for his steadfast championing of the Lumad culture and arts to build peace and sustainable development, and for his tireless efforts to promote the Indigenous Peoples’ rights in the country and around the world, Xavier Ateneo is pleased and honored to confer the Fr Francisco R Demetrio SJ Award to a peacekeeper, environmentalist, academic and Lumad leader, Datu Migketay Victorino L Saway.