The 4th Indigenous Leaders’ Summit held in General Santos City last October 27-30,2016 was in many ways a rediscovery of Indigenous Peoples’ identity and common calls and challenges. I felt the warmth and happiness of the tribes from North to South as we joined together, to participate in the meeting, sharing experiences and finding our voice among the diverse people who attended the summit, a fitting celebration of our God-given right to live in harmony with self and other, to chart our destiny, to be proud of our indigenous culture.
Knowing myself and understanding my tribe gave the most impact as I realized the value of our struggles that highlight our unique cultural identity as reflected not only in appearance but, more importantly by what is in our hearts and through the result of our collective actions.
The summit also gave me the confidence to talk and discuss with young professionals from my own tribe on the challenges, struggles, and our dreams for future generations. Indeed, it is not late for the young and future generations to learn and to fight for the rights that has been taken away from our ancestors. My eagerness to be a part of the tribe boosted as I learned that there are communities of my tribe—Erumanen ne Menuvu—that are still preserved and are practicing our rich cultural heritage.
We may come from different tribes, cultural background, and traditions but we have the same cry for justice as our tribes face similar challenges and perhaps, more importantly, we came to know that with unity we can call and depend on each other for support in a common struggle.
Quoting the statement of the president of Tuklas Katutubo: “Ang marinig at mabigyang pansin ang hinanaing nating mga katutubo ay isang napakalaking bagay. Kung kaya ang pagkakaruon ng isang araw–one day non-working holiday para sa mga katutubong Pilipino–ay isang bagay na magbibigay liwanag sa madilim na pagkilala sa atin bilang tribo. Ito ang araw na tayo ay muling tatayong pantay ng walang alinlangan at pagkait tulad ng karamihan”. (It is indeed a major leap forward when our grievances as Indigenous Peoples are heard and are given attention. To have our own day–one day, a non-working holiday for the Filipino Indigenous Peoples–will help bring light to a dark perception about us as ribal people. This is the day when we will stand tall, equal, without hesitation, free from discrimination, with the same treatment as everyone else.)
This statement, to me, drives home the importance of Indigenous Peoples struggles not only in the Philippines but all over the globe.
To support the advocacies and dreams of the organization – Tuklas Katutubo, for the indigenous peoples in the Philippines, Peacebuilders Community Inc. would like to assist with the organizational structure, leadership development, management training, and information-and-communication-technology (ICT) resources.