We are now documenting and processing all the facts and data from our field interaction last 28-30 July 2021 with the Mandaya people in Caraga, Davao Oriental. The Indigenous People’s leadership there officially invited us — PeaceBuilders Community and CoffeeForPeace — through the initiative of the TriPeoples Development and Services Foundation. We are reminded once again that people have wisdom based on, and learned from, their varied experiences and contexts. We ought to listen to them. We ought to recognize their voices. We ought to stop treating them with condescending, or looking-down, attitude.
Here are some reflections and reminders to my team:
We must listen to the Indigenous People’s wisdom. Much have been said about the Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSP). It’s one thing to ‘hear about them,’ it’s another thing to ‘listen to them.’ Listening has three aspects: intellect, emotion, and will. Listening absorbs the data and facts from the people’s knowledge. Listening absorbs the feelings of the people as they share the focus of their hearts’ and minds’ attention — their reality. Listening prompts the listener to act — that is, short-term action, mid-term action, and long-term action.
We must recognize the Indigenous People’s knowledge and wisdom. Recognition is the identification, recollection, recalling, remembrance of what they know, and acknowledging the existence, validity, or legality of Indigenous knowledge and wisdom. Many researchers would document certain IKSP, publish them, then secure legal copyrights on them that even the IP communities who were the subjects of the study need to ask for copyright permission before republishing their own knowledge and wisdom! This is ridiculous, and yet so accepted as the norm in the academic and corporate world. The IP knowledge and wisdom are theirs. They simply entrusted us to put them in writing because their knowledge banking is through oral tradition in the context of their spirituality, worldview, values system, and customary laws.
We must stop treating them, their knowledge, and their wisdom with condescension. This is another way of saying, “Let us truly and sincerely respect them!” Most government agencies, non-government organizations, business corporations, religious missions, and other intervening entities say they respect the IPs and yet they implement programs without even listening whether those programs are actually needed or doing harm, wittingly or unwittingly, in the lives of the IPs.
We’re now developing the first 6 months of our Inclusive Development training among key farmers and community leaders in two Mandaya communities in Caraga. May our PBCI-CFP IncluDev Team serve with humility and genuine respect to the Mandaya and all the Indigenous Peoples who invite us to work with them.