As nations celebrate the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (IDWIP), Senator Loren Legarda today stressed the role of indigenous media in giving voice to cultural communities.
Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities, said that the country must support indigenous peoples in developing their own media in order to assert the rights of our IPs and to promote the rich Filipino culture that they strive to preserve. The theme for the 2012 IDWIP is “Indigenous media, empowering indigenous voices”.
“There are 110 IP groups in the Philippines, with each community possessing its own traditional knowledge that had been passed on from one generation to the other. But how many of these groups are known to us? How many Filipinos are aware of them? Many of us do not realize that various aspects of our modern lifestyle originated from traditional practices. They can help us dig deeper into their traditional knowledge and relate it to our modern living so that Filipinos will have greater appreciation of our culture and concern for our culture bearers’ welfare,” she stressed.
The Senator also said that IP-related programs of government agencies need to be promoted to help gain support from various sectors.
Legarda cited efforts from government agencies and various stakeholders to safeguard the country’s IPs and cultural treasures—the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) is undertaking capacity-building activities on various facets of preserving the Philippine heritage; the Philippine Textile Research Institute (PTRI) is working closely with other agencies to strengthen the tropical fabrics industry, which will also promote the industry of weaving that many IPs are engaged in; and the Department of Education (DepEd) has created the Indigenous Peoples Education Office (IPsEO), which will be responsible for the planning, implementation, coordination and monitoring of the agency’s activities and programs on IP education.
Legarda herself has a number of projects that seek to empower IPs and preserve Filipino heritage and indigenous culture. She supported the development of cultural villages of the Ata-Talaingod, the Mandayas, the B’laan, and the Bagobo Tagabawas and various activities of their Schools of Living Traditions, which teach the young generation the traditional arts, crafts, music and practices of the village.
In 2011, the Senator organized Regional and National IP Summits where leaders of IP groups were able to voice out their concerns, particularly on the implementation of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act.
Meanwhile, in collaboration with the National Museum, Legarda initiated projects such as the Hibla ng Lahing Filipino, the first permanent textile galleries in the country; the Baybayin gallery, which will showcase the ancient and traditional scripts of the Philippines and is expected to be launched within the year; and the Lecture Series on Philippine Traditional Textiles and Indigenous Knowledge, which aims to enrich the citizens’ knowledge on tropical fabrics and the culture of weaving, and explore the local technology, adaptation and innovations to perform and renew weaving customs.
“Our IPs are the epitome of the tradition, the skill and the creativity of the great Filipino mind. And as the nation moves forward and pursues a path of progress, we should always include in public discourse the unique situation and needs of our IPs. We must ensure that they are afforded social services and are empowered to be vital and productive members of our nation,” Legarda concluded.***