BUKLOG, the thanksgiving ritual system of the Subanen, an indigenous group in Zamboanga, is now inscribed in the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) List of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH).

During the 14th Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Meeting held from Dec. 9 to 14, the Buklog was formally inscribed along with the rituals and practices associated with the Kit Mikayi shrine of Kenya; the Spring rite of Jurauski Karahod of Belarus; the Seperu folk dance and associated practices of Botswana; and the Sega tambour Chagos of Mauritius.

Buklog is conducted “to appease and express gratitude to the spirits for reasons such as bountiful harvest, recovery from sickness or calamity, or acknowledgement of a new leader,” according to the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) website.

The ritual is planned by the head of a host family or a village chief called timuay. It is performed to ensure harmony among family, community members, and the spiritual worlds.

The Philippines’ first nomination since 2015, Buklog is also the first to be inscribed on the List of ICH as “In Need of Urgent Safeguarding.” The ICH is made up of elements that “require urgent measures to keep them alive,” according to UNESCO. Being inscribed to the list helps “to mobilize international cooperation and assistance for stakeholders to undertake appropriate safeguarding measures.”

According to the NCCA, the organization safeguards the tradition “through a Subanen School of Living Tradition, a community-based, non-formal center of learning which teaches traditional knowledge and skills to the Subanen youth.”

The Darangen epic of the Maranao people of Lanao Lake, the Hudhud chants and the Punnuk tugging ritual of the Ifugao were previously added to the UNESCO list.

The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage meets annually to provide guidance and recommendations on measures for the safeguarding of the ICH. — MAPS