Monday, June 17, 2019

Indigenous knowledge vital during disasters

LANDSLIDE mapping tied with indigenous knowledge should be at the core of attending disasters.

This was a call from speakers and reactors during a lecture on January 25 at the University of the Philippines-Baguio City which discussed community based mapping and indigenous knowledge as a long existing survival instructions that can be utilized today.

“Apparently there is a direct relationship to the names that place is acquired and the recurrence of that event or that disaster.. indigenous knowledge is our intellectual heritage. Where we draw this, from the indigenous peoples,” architect Rachel Guimbatan-Fadgyas, who has been involved much of her life in the area of land use and development planning with indigenous peoples, said.

Fadgyas, an Ifugao native with more than a decade of experience in the field recently studied methodology of utilizing Indigenous Knowledge in Landslide Risk Mapping. The area covered a 129-kilometer stretch which links almost all municipalities of Ifugao, in the Cordillera Administration Region.

The study covered the presence of landslides and produced information on place-names that imply on the size and type of erosion with places that were named to indicate soil composition.

Fadgyas added mapping of place-names is a form of guided discovery of heritage adding it is a good cooperation pool to rally action because it is based on common understanding of meaning, built of common observance of natural phenomenon that are indisputable in the community.

“It reminds us of long existing survival instructions that can still be used today. The people only listened what they can relate to, no amount of gadgets and early warning systems can convince everyone to heed warnings if these are remote from their conception that a disaster is going to happen,” she said.

Recognizing the need for landslide mapping and other mapping activities entails the need of Indigenous Cultural Communities contribution said Esther Licnachan, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) - Ifugao director.

The perspective from communities must be understood by the people facilitating planning process.

The IP official mentioned other areas with place-names serving as historical markers of calamities such as community participants the term ‘Lufu’ where the earth rolled up, folded up, ‘Go go’ sitios where there was earthquake and parts of the mountain fell to the ground.

With landslide susceptibility maps serving as living documents, local government unit (LGU) officials and employees are enjoined to continue to enrich observations on the ground for landslide occurrence as good models of landslide occurrence comes from actual observation on the ground.

During the onslaught of typhoon Ompong in 2018, 67 were buried at level 070, in barangay Ucab, Itogon, mostly small-scale miners from Ifugao when a mountain collapsed in the area.

Reports have manifested some of the casualties did not heed the call of pre-evacuation.

Human rights lawyer Cheryl Daytec Yangot said it is high time to upgrade the value or recognize the very important value of Indigenous voices because IP knowledge has sustained the environment for years.

“The reason why we now have this climate change issues and landslide is because we haven’t listened to their voices why they were ignorant, barbaric; but they turned out to be the ones to preserve the environment. There is something about IP knowledge that we must respect.”

Fadgyas added despite having more than 100 years of experience of fighting landslides, typhoons, and earthquakes, disasters are still viewed from the context of emergency response not from the long-term view. Disaster Risk Reduction and Management positions are not permanent despite the knowledge of disasters being experienced every year.

She noted community based mapping and planning only works if the political environment is supportive, present policy and legislation and enough follow through until its completion.


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