“The Indigenous Peoples (IPs) are not ‘the exotic others’ but fellow Filipinos.”
“Despite calamities and man-made disasters, we have shown to the world that we are resilient. The IPs have an important role to play.”
The statements were made by anthropologist Eufracio Abaya and Elmalyn Abatayo, head of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Committee on Southern Cultural Communities, at a recent press conference at the NCCA in Intramuros, Manila, to kick off October being National Indigenous Peoples’ Month.
Theme of the celebration is “Viral Wisdom: Learning with the Indigenous People.”
National Artist for Literature Virgilio Almario, NCCA chair, presided over the conference.
Abatayo added, “There is some kind of clash of the titans between the IPs and the government.” And, addressing the media persons present, she said: “Listen to our plea.”
T’boli musicians and dancers provided cultural entertainment, with one couple executing a courtship dance with flourish. Singer Bayang Barrios, attired in a tribal costume, interpreted in song and dance a composition she wrote and then followed it up with a song pleading for peace, “Kapayapaan.”
In his remarks, Almario declared, “we are killing what is indigenous (katutubo) by not knowing it, by being more familiar with what is foreign, American. We are not aware of our native knowledge. Our textbooks are misinformed about our epics.”
A key feature of Indigenous Peoples’ Month is the DayawSuroy Media Caravan which has visited San Fernando City, Pampanga, and Baguio City. It will visit Davao City (Oct. 15) and Zamboanga City (Oct. 17).
The highlight of the celebration is Kalkali (“Conversation” in the Kankana-ey language), a national conference to be convened by the NCCA at the Maryhill School of Theology in Quezon City.
“The forum will provide a platform for indigenous peoples to assert their rights to participate in discussions on the ways and means to safeguard their intangible cultural heritage, which is increasingly being undermined by the rapid social, economic, political and ecological changes at the local, regional and global scale,” said Abaya. —CONTRIBUTED