BRIDGING the gap between the indigenous people (IP) and the society was the goal in calling for a convention of the tribes.
The convention, attended by eight different tribes in Cebu, was held last Oct. 30 at the Cebu Business Hotel.
"Some government agencies couldn't tell some of the tribes apart because they dress the way we do," said Richard Alfajora, president of the Interfaith, Preachers, Educators' Advocacy for Cultural Enlightenment (Ipeace).
Ipeace organized the symposium to help the tribes address the basic needs of their community and raise their social concerns to the government agencies.
The tribes of Higaunun, Badjao, Tausug, Manubo, Mabubu, Dumagat, Magahat and Mangyan were represented in the convention.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, representatives of the Commission on Human Rights 7, and the Cebu City's Cultural Historical Affairs Commission, National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, Cebu City Interfaith Movement, and the members of the Downtown Revitalization Project also attended the convention to hear the gripes of the tribe members.
Alfajora lamented that some government agencies only recognize the Badjaos and the Aetas as IP.
"We want them(IP) to learn how to embrace their identity and not be ashamed of it.
Second, for the mainstream society not to discriminate the IP and to treat them as one," Alfajora said of the importance of the convention, which is based on Republic Act 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples Right Acts.
The law recognizes, protects, and promotes the rights of indigenous cultural communities.
Rama showed his support to the different tribes in Cebu by singing a song during the convention. (Anna Marie Tablada, STC Mass Com Intern)