WITH the drive to provide the learners the opportunity to deepen their knowledge on IP issues, IP rights and Indigenous Knowledge Systems, and to equip them to promote the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, a forum organized by the Benguet State University – Social Science Department and Institute of Social Research and Development was held on October 15, 2019.

The theme of the forum was “Recognizing IP Issues, IP Rights, and IKS: A Step towards Achieving Sustainable Development Goals”. Five keynote speakers were invited to talk on IP Marginalization and IMPRA 1997, Situationer on IPs in Cordillera, Globalization and Indigenous Identity, Performing Indigenous Arts, Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change.

The first speaker, Mr. Rocky Ngalob Information Officer of the National Commission on Indigenous People – Cordillera Administrative Region (NCIP-CAR) discussed “The National Minoritization of Indigenous Peoples Towards the Crafting of RA 8371.” He first talked about artifacts found in the Cordilleras showing preliminary findings that the earliest humans in the country lived in Cagayan and Kalinga. He stated historical events that led to the injustices towards IPs in the form of land dispossession, differentiation, and marginalization which is still prominent today. Mr. Ngalob ended his talk with citations of legal bases in the Philippine Constitution which are linked in the articles of IPRA 1997.

Mr. Julius Caesar Daguitan of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance continued the forum with his topic on the “Cordillera Situationer”. He discussed the issues affecting the indigenous peoples such as national oppression, feudalism, and bureaucratic capitalism. He further added that IPs experience commercialization and misrepresentation of their culture, institutionalized discrimination, government neglect, degradation of indigenous socio-political systems, violation of human rights to ancestral land, and including militarization. Mr. Daguitan also stressed how schools were closed due to suspicions that they are part of rebel groups like how community workers in IP communities are branded as rebels.

A topic entitled “Globalization and Indigenous Identity” by Dr. Ruth Tindaan, the director of Cordillera Studies Center (CSC) of the University of the Philippines talked about the key aspects, and the positive and negative side of development. She gave examples of how globalization affected the identities of people and cited how Igorots are proud of who they are despite migrating to other countries. Social media also has been a way to introduce the different ethnic identities as seen on films like Mumbaki or the social media sensation Carrot Man. Dr. Tindaan then concluded that globalization has the potential to bolster creativity, democratize self-expression, potentially empower production and circulation of self-representations, and reconstruct the colonial or prejudiced discourses. On the other hand, globalization tends to promote too much visibility or aesthetic production and uncurbed promotion leading to faulty representations.

Brightening the mood was Ms. Matyline Camfili-Talastas, Special Assistant to the Vice President for Research and Extension focused on indigenous arts. She mentioned the indigenous peoples’ expressions of their own culture are in their songs and dances. She sung Cordilleran songs with the crowd and mentioned how Cordillerans dance to worship, and pray for a bountiful harvest and ask a favor from the gods. She ended her talk by encouraging students to learn IP songs and dances.

The last speaker for the forum was Jo Ann Guillao, a researcher and former BSU faculty member who shared her expertise on the topic: “Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change”. She defined climate change, greenhouse gases and the Indigenous Peoples’ view towards the environment. She also stressed that IPs are all interconnected and that the destruction of the environment and climate change impact lives of IPs. On the other hand, IPs have been known to have climate change adaptation and mitigation practices that can help save our mother earth. She ended her topic by showing the participants “fever,” a short film about how IPs are affected by climate change and how do they address it. (Kristine Dela Cruz, BSU-CAS-SS-ISRD)