After our week-long Surgical Mission held in RUR Hospital in Bongabong, Joy’s family hosted us in their humble house in the middle of the rice fields. We stayed there for two nights and did ocular survey in the nearby village in planning to reach the Bangon Tribe- the last unreached people group of the Mangyans.
It was Saturday when we went to Panluan- a place where Mangyan tribe from the mountains goes down to Bongabong River to trade their agricultural products such as ginger, bananas, root crops and many more with the Tagalogs. One of our guides, Tatay Agnay, told us that every Friday and Saturday, the tribe from the mountains go down to trade and “socialize”- as gambling in many forms was rampant in the area. Tatay Agnay shared that it was their way to socialize with the Tagalogs.
Our team is composed of Dr. Francis and Bro. Carl (our partner in Puerto Galera), Tatay Agnay, Kuya Saun, Bro Nahum, and 2 other Mangyans (from Bgy. Batangan). Our guides are members of Iglesia Ebanghelika ng Batangan which is affiliated with Mangyan Tribal Church Association (MTCA). Tatay Agnay was our main guide and beforehand he coordinated with Padiwan, a tribal village leader in Sitio Linyama. The Barangay Captain Danilo Famorcan also granted us permission after seeing the authorization letter that we secured from Mayor Elgin Malaluan of Bongabong.
As we trekked down to Sitio Lalid, we met Tatay Yawin-Ay (he preferred to be called Chairman). We didn’t expect to meet him there but I’ve heard his name from Tatay Agnay during our early meetings. Chairman Yawin-Ay is the leader of the whole Bangon Tribe in Oriental and Occidental Mindoro. He told us that there are 23 Sitio or Villages of the Bangons from 4 different municipalities and he also mentioned that it usually takes him a week to visit all the villages if he has a special announcement to make concerning the whole tribe. According to Chairman Yawin-Ay, out of 23 villages, only 2 villages have active churches. One is planted by the Koreans and the other one is a local church.
These are the lists of the Bangon Tribe Villages:
Bgy. Hagan, Bongabong Oriental Mindoro
- Hugun Liguma
- Ambuwan Ugbot
Bgy. Rosacara, Bansud Oriental Mindoro
Bgy. Mirayan, Gloria Or. Mindoro
- Banluan Uno
- Banluan Dos
Bgy. Manoot, Rizal, Occidental Mindoro
- Unnamed Village
The prayer to reach out the Bangons started 2 years ago after I conducted a Kairos Course among Mangyan Pastors in Abra de Ilog. A group of pastors came from three different tribes namely, Alangan, Tadyawan, and Iraya. According to them the Bangon is also a Mangyan tribe but they are the most difficult Mangyan tribe to deal with. Since then, I’ve been praying to God for Him to open doors of opportunity where we can serve and introduce the gospel to the tribe.
The following day, I asked Tatay Agnay if we can attend their worship service in their church and they gladly accepted our request and even asked us if I can share a message for their Sunday worship celebration. I humbly accepted. It was an opportunity for the whole team to witness a Christian church gathering in the Name of the One True God. We’ve seen their love for Jesus Christ and they shared their wonderful testimony of how God is opening the doors to reach out to the Bangons. One man testified in Tagalog, “We were just kids when we are visiting the Bangon tribe with the “white people”, but now we are old. How come that the tribe is not yet reached? Maybe our time was not yet the right time. Maybe now is the right time and the gospel will be accepted”. His testimony challenged me more and I’m praying that the Batangan Evangelical Church will join us in reaching out to the Bangon Tribe of Mindoro.
After the worship service and as we are having our lunch, Dr. Francis challenged us to conduct a medical mission and evangelism this coming May 2017. We are praying that as we prepare for this trip, many people will be challenged as well in bringing the gospel to this tribe. Our objective is to equip Christian Mangyans coming from the Buhid tribe and assist them in doing church planting and community development in the future.
Please pray for us as we envision seeing the Bangon Tribe being reached by God’s faithful servants. As we respond and take the call of obedience may His Holy Spirit guide us and give us wisdom, protection, and grace, and fill our hearts with overflowing love, compassion, and cry out for mercy for this people.
By: Paul Bañas, RN