Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy’s Journey with the B’laan Tribe of Kitbog
In the majestic rolling mountains of Kitbog, Sarangani Province, lies the home of the B’laan, an indigenous people whose destiny found itself entwined with the life of Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy.
Famous for their beadwork and abaca weaving, their oral traditions such as their songs, stories, and dreams play a significant part in their past and present lives. They believe that spiritual beings such as Melu, their supreme being or God, can directly communicate with human beings through dreams and visions.
And this was how the B’laan people of Kitbog, Sarangani Province found themselves along the path of the Almighty Father’s plan of salvation.
In 1975, Pastor Apollo was called by the Almighty Father to sojourn in Kitbog which was then an isolated area in the Sarangani mountains that could only be reached by almost 4 hours of trekking or riding on horseback.
It was there that Pastor was tested on his decision to follow the Father completely, leaving behind his life as a famous preacher in his denomination.
Soon, he formed a close bond with the B’laan people, teaching them about spiritual things, and advising them on farming, financial problems, and many more. It did not take long for them to have revelatory dreams about Pastor Apollo.
The B’laans took their dreams about Pastor Apollo seriously. They knew that he was a man chosen by God for a special mission.
After Pastor Apollo’s anointing by the Almighty Father in Tamayong, Calinan, Davao City, he told the B’laans that it was the Father’s Will for him to leave Kitbog, for his spiritual training there had ended. It was a sad time for the B’laans, but they knew that one day he would return.
When Pastor Apollo left, Kitbog was devastated and overrun by bandits. It was as if the sitio had vanished from the map of civilization. For many, Kitbog seemed to be cursed when Pastor left the area. But the B’laans did not lose hope. One day, they decided to take their destiny into their own hands. They took the long trek to Davao City to find Pastor Apollo.
It was a tearful reunion, for they had a special place in the heart of Pastor Apollo. It was there that they presented Pastor Apollo with the stewardship of their ancestral domain. They knew Kitbog would know no peace until Pastor Apollo would return to Kitbog. The B’laans’ prayers were answered when Pastor Apollo set foot in Kitbog again — after 43 long years — a move which many did not expect.
As the Father promised him blessing after blessing wherever he would go, Kitbog and the B’laan people were also included in these provisions.
For decades, the only access of the B’laans to Kitbog or the nearest town was a narrow path through the mountains only passable by horse or by foot.
When Pastor Apollo returned to Kitbog, the road project became his priority program in the area — a project which immensely helped the people.
It didn’t stop there. As an environmentalist, Pastor Apollo also launched successive tree-planting projects to restore the barren slopes. He opened a worship center where people can go back to God and renew their relationship with Him. Peace was finally restored in the area.
Pastor Apollo’s conferment by the Philippine Indigenous Peoples as Datu Pamulingan which means “one who possesses a discerning spirit and a divine gift from God” has reinforced what Pastor had envisioned for his B’laan brethren — the restoration of the dignity of the people and the support for access to basic services for the community.
And while the new roads that were built have strengthened economic activities, Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy also saw how the inaccessibility of basic health services remained a major problem for most of those living in Kitbog.
Pastor Apollo is a builder with a great vision that encompasses the complete restoration of man. He has always believed in projects that are long-term, sustainable, yielding solutions that can empower the people towards progress.
Thus, early this year, volunteers from the United Indigenous Peoples’ Heritage of the Philippines (UniPhil) which Pastor Apollo leads as Datu Pamulingan began building a Health Center so the people in this community can have access to healthcare services anytime.
And just in time for Pastor’s birthday, UniPhil through its president, Ms. Elizabeth Carreon, Bae Mefe of the Ovu Manobo Tribe, turned over the new Health Center to the Kitbog community, loaded with the medical supplies needed to serve the community.
It was personally received by Malungon Municipal Mayor Tessa Constantino and other officials of the municipality.
During the Health Center’s launching, UniPhil also partnered with JMCFI’s College of Medicine to offer free medical consultations and medicines to the residents of Kitbog, a first for the community.
Realizing that the B’laan people continue to face many legal battles due to illiteracy and many other impediments, Datu Pamulingan also facilitated UniPhil’s team-up with the Jose Maria College Foundation Inc.’s College of Law to offer free legal services to the residents of Sitio Kitbog. These free legal services are a fulfillment of Pastor Apollo’s vision for the JMCFI College of Law to bring legal assistance to the needy on a regular and long-term basis.
Of course, Pastor’s birthday celebration wouldn’t be complete without sharing it to the children — not just with the IP communities but with all children from Kitbog and its neighboring Sitios and barangays.
The children, even their parents, enjoyed every bit of it for it is only during Pastor Apollo’s birthday that they get to enjoy all the trappings of a grand birthday party.
The story of Pastor Apollo and the B’laan tribe of Kitbog, Saranggani Province, is one of restoration, hope, and a love that knows no boundaries. As Datu Pamulingan, that is Pastor Apollo’s dream for all indigenous peoples of the Philippines.