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Patriarch Laid to Rest

He was called the dreamer chief who dreamed about a white man who will come to his village.

By: Daryl Famisarn

Datu (Chief) Tibalawan Ansumbog, estimated to be 80 years old passed away on September 22, 2004. We respect this strong leader as the pillar of the SULADS program. He was the first Manobo and Chief baptized by Elder James Zachary in 1971 in the first Mission School, Dampaan. The SULADS history has a lot of stories to tell about this beloved chief.

He was called the dreamer chief who dreamed about a white man who would come to his village. This white man would give teachers to teach his people how to read and write. In his dream he was instructed to go to Valencia (nearest town) market that Sunday which is the market day. He followed his instructions.

At Mountain View College (MVC), Napoleon Saguan, Sr. a Filipino white man with fair skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes also dreamed. In his dream he was told to go to Valencia market that Sunday to meet a Manobo chief. He likewise followed his instructions and the two men met.

“I saw you in my dream!” Chief Tibalawan shouted in the crowd, pointing to Mr. Saguan.

“I saw you in my dream too!” returned Mr. Saguan speaking in Manobo. They looked for a place where they could be alone together and they talked. They talked about the strange dreams and the strange meeting in the market. The strange instructions of putting up a school and more strange things to happen were discussed.

The late Mr. Saguan, Sr. talked the matter over with the late Elder James Zachary, then chairman of the Theology Department of Mountain View College. They made plans, solicited funds from friends, locally and abroad, and sent the first two student missionaries from MVC, Abraham Carpena and Samuel Napigkit.

Datu Tibalawan was also called the modern Naaman. His body was covered with scabies. Scaly flakes flew in the air from his skin whenever he scratched his itchy skin. When he heard of the story of Naaman, He pleaded with the Lord. He said “If the Lord of Elisha and Israel is the same God I am serving now, He can heal me of my scales.” He prayed and went to a stream nearby dipped seven times and received healing.

Dampaan was closed in 1981. After 15 years when we resurrected the program in 1994, the first mission school we visited was Dampaan. It was Sabbath, and there on that lonely hill of Dampaan vibrated the songs of worship from a congregation so alive. They didn't know we were coming. When we entered the church there was Chief Datu Tibalawan in his usual headdress beaming with smiles and choked with tears, welcoming us to his congregation.

That year we re-opened his village mission school. Datu Tibalawan was the one who led the missionaries from village to village through the thick forests introducing our new missionaries to the villagers. If you were to come and visit Dampaan now, you would see no wine, cigarettes or any sort of evil sights. You would only hear the usual songs of the villagers in their morning and evening worships.

I was sad that I did not know of the passing away of the chief. But I have talked to his daughter when we met at MVC during the MS (Ministerial Seminar) mass baptism of which Dampaan had several candidates. She said the parting words of the chief were, “Don't you worry about me. I'm in the good hands of my Lord! I will meet you in Heaven soon.”

Let us each determine to meet Datu Tibalawan on that glad morning when Jesus calls His saints home.

By: Daryl Famisaran, SULADS Director

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