BUSCALAN, KALINGA — Global online learning platform Nas Academy visited
Maria Oggay, also known as Apo Whang-Od, and the Butbut Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs) in Barangay Buscalan, Municipality of Tinglayan, Kalinga to formalize their reconciliation. The customary process was arranged by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) after dialogues with Nas Academy.
The NCIP, through the Office on Education, Culture, and Health (OECH) and the Office of Empowerment and Human Rights (OEHR) is mandated to ensure that the Rights to Cultural Integrity of our ICCs/IPs are recognized, respected, promoted, and protected. After meeting with the Nas Academy team and hearing their side, it was decided to finally put this issue to rest by using the Customary Laws and Practices on conflict resolution, healing, and reconciliation.
As lead advocate of the rights and welfare of the ICCs/IPs, the Commission, through its Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) Regional Office together with Kalinga Provincial Office, took the initiative of investigating and validating the reports on IP Rights violation specifically on the Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) requirement on Community Intellectual Rights of the Kalinga ICCs/IPs. The meeting took place in Buscalan and was attended by all parties including Apo Whang-Od, her family, IP Elders and community members, as well as representatives from the NCIP and Nas Academy.
It was good that the Nas Academy came over to convey their apology to the
Butbut ICCs/IPs of Buscalan regarding the misunderstanding among the company, community, and Whang-Od family. The community through their elders thanked the Nas Academy for their sincere apology and requested that for the next time, they must follow the procedure since the art of tattooing is not practiced by the Butbut ICCs/IPs alone.
During the community meeting, NCIP Chairperson Allen A. Capuyan emphasized the importance of using the Customary Laws and Practices in resolving conflict which is restorative and not punitive thereby attaining healing and reconciliation. Congressman Allen Jesse C. Mangaoang, for his part, conveyed and reinforced the request of the tribal elders and community that the contract signed by Apo Whang-Od with Nas Academy be declared null and void which was affirmed by the Nas Academy lawyers. The event ended with the partaking of the shared meal hosted by Buscalan Punong Barangay Leon Baydon, as a sign of healing and reconciliation according to the customs and tradition of the Butbut ICCs/IPs.
According to Atty. Joji Alonso, Legal Counsel for Nas Academy, the Philippines is very close to Nas Academy’s heart. The Nas Academy will always strive for truth and fairness in all their endeavors. As educators, they intend to teach by example and this initiative, which is anchored on humility and respect, is by far one of the best values they can demonstrate and teach their followers.