Members of the famous Panay-Bukidnon tribe, locally known as Suludnon, showcased their unique ritual of courtship and marriage, to highlight the celebration of the Indigenous People's Day in Calinog, Iloilo.
The one-hour stage presentation showed how a male tribe member makes a proposal to marry a “binukot,” a woman that has been kept from the public eye since early childhood.
Suludnons treat a “binukot” like a princess: not not exposed and not allowed to work.
A man has to undergo a series of test before marrying a binukot.
One of the scenes included in the famous presentation is the selection process in which the binukot is auctioned to the highest bidder.
The man or the bidder has to select virtually blindly among the binukots that will be lined up before him by the parents and the Suludnon elders.
Even after choosing the woman, the bidder is not allowed to see the face of the binukot until they are wed.
Tourism Undersecretary Salvador Sarabia, who witnessed the celebration, expressed grateful appreciation of the famous and controversial way of marriage that has being practiced by the Suludnons.
Sarabia said the Department of Tourism (DOT) is planning to look for funds in order to preserve the unique culture of the Suludnon.
The DOT together with the National Commission on Indigenous People joined the celebration to show support for the Panay-Bukidnon people.
On the same day, the Sangguniang Bayan of Calinog also passed a resolution declaring the 29th month of October as Indigenous People's day in their town.
The local government also called on the public to recognize the living culture of the Suludnon, particularly the respect and preservation of their identity.
Some 30-hectares of land on the mountainous village of Calinog are now being protected and inhabited by the Suludnon.
History tells that they have been there even before the Spanish Cross of Ferdinand Magellan reached the archipelago.