KIDAPAWAN CITY -- Cotabato second district Representative Nancy Catamco is set to propose the integration of the study of cultures and traditions of the indigenous peoples in elementary and high school curricula.

Catamco, a native of the Manobo tribe from North Cotabato, said the indigenous peoples are given "less" recognition in the current educational system.

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"The textbooks or the reference materials used in teaching Social Sciences, Filipino, or other subjects, for example, have little information about the lumads, especially those in Mindanao," said Catamco.

Cotamco is co-chair of the House Committee on the Indigenous Peoples' Affairs.

In Mindanao, she said, live 18 tribal Filipino groups, including the T'bolis, B'laans, Ata, Bagobo, Banwaon, Bukidnon, Dibabawon, Higaunon, Kalagan, Mamanwa, Mandaya, Mangguwangan, Manobo, Mansaka, Subanen, Tagakaolo, Teduray, and the Ubo.

Catamco said people would usually ask her about the Manobo tribe after introducing to them that she belongs to such tribe.

"People were surprised to hear the word Manobo and would ask me, "What was that?"

It's unfortunate, she said, that the lumads are being side lighted, where in fact, "our Filipino race comes from them."

Catamco also wants the creation of a tribal town in North Cotabato that would comprise lumad-dominated villages from Kidapawan City and towns of Makilala, and Magpet.

To make this possible, Catamco said they need a declaration from President Benigno Aquino III himself.

"It would make the process easier if the President himself would declare IP towns in areas dominated by the lumads," she explained.

She also proposed additional budget for the National Commission on the Indigenous Peoples.

"Records show that the budget for the NCIP in a year is less than a billion pesos, much lower than the travel expenses allotted for the Office of the President," she said.