The provincial commission on indigenous peoples (IP) is investigating complaints about the royal status of Princess Aura Lee Joya, a so-called Tagbanua “princess”, who was recently featured by a national television network.
Some netizens complained that a few of Joya’s claims to having “royal blood” are false and that her appearance on national television has led to the propagation of false information.
In Joya’s video feature, she spoke about being descended from a line of “royal-blooded” Tagbanuas, known as “masikampo.”
She said that her grandfather, Ruben Joya, is the 18th Tagbanua masikampo and the “lone cultural king of IPs (indigenous peoples) and ICCs (indigenous cultural communities).” She also claimed that her family is still fighting for recognition as bonafide Tagbanua “masikampo” with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).
“Hanggang ngayon hindi pa rin kinikilala ang lolo at lola ko. Gusto naming ipakita na andito kami, buhay na buhay pati ang kultura namin,” Joya said in the video of the national television network.
“Ako ang panganay na apo ni masikampo Ruben Joya, siya ang kinikilalang lone king of IPs and ICCs,” she added.
Mary Ann delos Santos, officer-in-charge of the NCIP provincial office, said that the matter is under investigation after they received several complaints.
She said the investigation will delve into the complaints filed by “one party”, whose name she did not mention.
“Under validation ang issue na ‘yan sa amin. Sunod-sunod ang kasong pina-file sa amin ng isang party sa kaguluhan ng masikampo issue,” Delos Santos said in a text message on Friday.
“Hindi muna kami magco-comment hangga’t hindi pa tapos ang report at nadesisyunan na ng commission [ito],” she added.
Joya is also an avid Tiktok user from Aborlan who posts videos of Tagbanua customs and traditions, which was how she caught the attention of the network.
One social media user, who is from Aborlan and declined to be named, said in a Facebook post that Joya’s feature did not present the full story of the masikampo bloodline. Other Facebook users pointed out that the only recognized masikampo line comes from a certain Manuel Cursod, Sr., whose male descendants are still living.
“Sana ay nag-fact check kayo nang husto at nag-interview ng mga tunay na Tagbanua dito, at hindi lang mga side ng Joya ang [na-highlight] ninyo. Pakinggan sana natin ang sinasabi ng karamihan. May nabanggit nga kayong issue, pero yung paraan naman ng pagkaka-present ninyo ay pumapabor sa kanila,” one netizen wrote.
Other social media users pointed out that only the male descendant of Manuel Sr., a certain Robert Cursod, Jr., is the rightful holder of the masikampo title. The posts also called for the television network to do more fact-checking before they featured Joya, and to interview other members of the Cursod clan to verify Joya’s claims.