24 May, 2019

Indigenous Youth Interested to Relearn their Identities

Print Email

By Jayford Sacla

 

BAGUIO CITY, PHILIPPINES- “Culture is the heart of our soul.”

Village councilor Benjamin Gayodan echoes the words of the Philippine National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal during the training for indigenous youth and children toward leadership and empowerment in Paracelis, Mountain Province, Philippines on February 14-16, 2019. Thirty-eight youths from different indigenous communities aged 14-24, participated in the training which was facilitated by indigenous youth facilitators.

Gayodan, an indigenous Maducayan, said in the opening statement that the culture of his province is slowly dying so the indigenous youth need to relearn their own histories. “I challenge you to make this matter [relearning history] as one of your motivations to go study. You have to emerge yourself in it [culture],” he said.

In the different group sessions, the youth participants shared that while they know that they are indigenous, they do not know much about their cultural practices, customs or even their own languages. Some  teachers who participated said that while they are mandated by the Department of Education to integrate indigenous education in their curriculum, they too, do not know much about their own cultures.  

According to Milton Biangalen, an indigenous Kadaclan elder who participated in the training, “[Our ancestors our intelligent and skillful. They had few and very limited resources but they amazingly survived for many long years.]” He attributed the survival of their ancestors to the culture, of “fairness, equity and mutual help”, that are slowly eroding in today’s generation.

 

 

Both the youth and adult participants expressed that there is a need to strengthen the capacity of the elders to transmit their knowledge to the youth.

The training was part of the series of capacity building activities under the Capability development for Indigenous youth and Children Toward leadership and empowerment Project of Tebtebba, in partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and UNICEF. The project aims to strengthen the indigenous youth’s appreciation of their identity and rights as indigenous peoples and enhance capabilities towards IP-responsive leadership and was facilitated by trained indigenous youth facilitators from different provinces in the country.