The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples spearheaded the national celebration of Cultural Communities Week 2022 with the theme “Culture Serves as a Thread that Weaves the Link from Our Ancestors to the Present and Next Generations” via Zoom and Facebook live on July 12, 2022. The event, which was hosted by Dr. Jose Elvin Limjuico and Ms. Bernadette Felipe from the Office on Education, Culture, and Health was participated by 350 participants, both platforms combined.
The activity started with a Thanksgiving ritual entitled “Demsu” by Boi Rosie Sula from the T’boli IP Group of Region 12, followed by the singing of the National Anthem. Director Caesar M. Ortega, in his opening remarks, stated that behind the smiles of the indigenous peoples lies the struggle. Struggle against land grabbing, discrimination and perpetration by businesses. While we celebrate, let us also look behind these colorful presentations and remember that the IPs have not yet been fully recognized and respected for as long as their lands are still being taken from them, culture is being destroyed, and cultural integrity is being taken advantage of.
For the Keynote Message, Chairperson Allen A. Capuyan emphasized the recognition, respect, and promotion of the indigenous peoples not only in our country but throughout the world. We should widen our understanding. Giving importance to recognizing culture is timely, especially because of the advancement of technology. He also reminded the participants that as we continue the advocacy we should not forget to share the colorful history of our ancestors. The commission has a lot of advocacies, programs, and regulations, but the Chairperson stressed the importance of spending time to hear the voices of the Indigenous Peoples. It is important to know what is happening on the ground.
“Talip Ken Taddo”, a dance performed in any occasion of the Isnag, especially during Say-am (Fiesta), the dance was also a sign of respect, camaraderie and unity was showcased on the event.
Mr. Arthur Zata from JCI Davao Gulf presented their flagship program at the event. He also presented an AVP showing the accomplishments of the organization. With the tagline #ToTheFarthest, the JCI Davao Gulf is the farthest local organization in the country bringing service to the Indigenous Peoples of the area. “Yakap Katutubo” is a celebration of cultural artistry and delicate craftsmanship of the Philippine Culture Bearer Artisans. It is a development opportunity to create more sustainable entrepreneurship for our Indigenous Peoples. The younger generations have the opportunity to protect the culture through Yakap Katutubo. JCI Davao Gulf left a commitment to continue to fulfill the mission and vision of JCI serving humanity and empowering the youth of the nation.
“Kinalasag”, a dance of celebration, thanksgiving, and festivity for the good harvest, good health, and abundant and peaceful life of the community, was also performed by Bukidnon IP Group.
A message of support to the Cultural Communities Week was delivered by Mr. Oscar G. Casaysay, NCCA Executive Director. An audio-visual presentation regarding the GAMABA Project emphasizing the qualifications, benefits, and rewards that the chosen manlilikha will obtain was also shown.
A thanksgiving dance for the blessings and opportunities showered by the Magbabaza entitled Sayaw Minamanwa was performed followed by an AVP containing the Media Cards of Commissioners showing support to the Cultural Communities week was also presented in the celebration. Series of Cultural Presentations such as Lupang Minana and Panuran were also exhibited on the event.
The Educational Assistance Program (EAP), Merit-Based Scholarship (MBS), and PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn Educational Assistance Program (PAMANA-EAP) Grantee Board Passers for the year 2022 were also recognized in the celebration. Some of the students gave their message of gratitude to the commission for helping them attain their dreams for their future. “I would like to express my sincere gratitude to NCIP for choosing me as one of their grantees. The educational assistance made my college education possible and I am currently working now as an engineering assistant.” – Engr. Vladimir Keith A. Bulwayan, Civil Engineers Licensure Examination Passer 2022.
The Department of Health, through Mr. Ray Justin C. Ventura, Chief Health Program Officer, presented the DOH Programs and Services for the Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples. He stressed the importance of IP Representation in the provincial, JUC/ICC Health Boards. He also presented the Pillars for an Essential Health namely: Governance and Management, Information system, Facilities, Equipment, Medicines and Supplies, Human Resource for Health, Service Standards and Deliveries, and Financing and Collaboration. DOH is committed to the prioritization of IPs in the delivery of culture-sensitive services and to ensuring that no Indigenous People are left behind.
Different artistry and crafts coming from the three major island groups were showcased at the event. For Luzon, the Bontok ICCs showcased the Pinakhod Backstrap Weaving, though it is also called “sinangad-om” weaving many Cordilleran weavers still use it because there are things it can do more efficiently than the modern weaving implement. For Visayas, the “Panubok” was shown, it is a traditional weaving of IP women of Panay Bukidnon, there they demonstrated how the craft was made and how it was being passed on to the next generations. For Mindanao, T’nalak Embroidery which is an art of dream-weaving was presented by the T’boli IP Group. There, they demoed a step-by-step procedure for making T’nalak straight from raw materials.
The NCIP Commissioners also stated their messages of support and solidarity for the Cultural Communities Week Celebration.
“Humility and altruism are the enemies of capitalistic and egoistic values.” -Commissioner Gaspar A. Cayat, Ethnographic Commissioner for CAR and Region 1.
“Remember that belonging in a culture gives meaning, purpose identity and belongingness of an individual. As an IP and a commissioner, I will advocate to protect the rich culture of the ICCs in respect of their culture, traditions local or international.” – Commissioner Simplicia Hagada, Ethnographic Commissioner for Region 2.
“The culture should not only be known but be lived upon and passed on to the next generations. I hope that we fulfill what the Cultural Communities Week advocates, to know and establish the importance of ICCs/IPs in the unity and development of the country.” – Commissioner Rhodex Valenciano, Ethnographic Commissioner for Region 3 and the Rest of Luzon.
Commissioner Jeorge Largado, the Ethnographic Commissioner for Island Groups and the Rest of Visayas, in his message said “We have the entire government agencies as well as the non-government organizations on our side on our quest for genuine recognition, protection and preservation of our cultural heritage.”
“Every IP community is tied together by culture. To understand every IP culture is to understand every IP Community. Remain steadfast, resilient, and moved with love and compassion for one another. Together, we will continue to thrive.” – Commissioner Pinky Grace P. Pareja, Ethnographic Commissioner for Northern and Western Mindanao.
The event was gracefully concluded by Commissioner Jennifer Pia Sibug-Las, the Ethnographic Commissioner for Central Mindanao, wherein she mentioned, “We are not IPs when the culture that we should be proud of is not relevant in our lives anymore.” She also thanked the participants, and those individuals, and organizations, who supported the conduct of the “Yakap Katutubo” Project and the Cultural Communities Week.