National Indigenous Peoples Cultural Summit Concludes in Manila: Legarda Leads Covenant for Cultural Survival and IP Empowerment

  • October 14, 2011

Members of various indigenous cultural communities (ICCs) in the country trooped to the National Museum in Manila for the historic First National Indigenous Peoples Cultural Summit yesterday.

Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities, Committee on Climate Change and Committee on Foreign Relations, headed this initiative in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), Department of Tourism (DOT), Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the International Labor Organization (ILO), and the German Technical Cooperation (GIZ).

“We take pride in our cultural rootedness and recognize the people whose lives take us through many centuries of struggle to protect the land we live in, preserve the virtues we uphold and bring us back to who we are,” the Senator said as she welcomed the participants of the Summit.

“Our indigenous peoples have shaped our story as a Filipino people—our music, arts and dance, our native knowledge and skills, our deeply held beliefs, our creativity, our sustainable ways of living with our physical environment and most important, our self-worth. Despite these overwhelming contributions, we have admittedly underwhelmed them as opportunities, services and share in decision-making, that are embodied in the Indigenous Peoples Rights law, have yet to be fully accorded,” Senator Legarda pointed out.

The Summit was the culminating event of the three regional assemblies—in Baguio City, Tagum City, and Iloilo City—that brought to light the different concerns that various ICCs would want the government to address.

“I am thankful to our diplomatic corps, colleagues in Congress, development partners, national and local governments, academe, non-government organizations, IP organizations and the media who joined our IPs in this historic gathering. Through this platform, we hope to break the walls that divide us, build bridges and open doors for our indigenous peoples,” Senator Legarda said.

“On the legislative front, the Senate approved on Second Reading Senate Bill No. 2814, which provides that acts of discrimination in employment, education, delivery of goods, facilities and services, accommodation, transportation, media, in search and investigatory activities, and in political, civil, cultural and social life on the basis of ethnicity will be penalized,” Senator Legarda reported before the Summit.

“This is in consonance with our desire to transform our society where each individual’s beliefs and principles are respected and everyone is given equal opportunity to achieve his full potential as a person and as a Filipino citizen,” she added.

The Summit likewise showcased the indigenous artistry of various IP groups through cultural presentations and an IP exhibit. Federico Caballero, one of only 11 recipients of the Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan Award, shared his exceptional talent in chanting, while the T’boli, Subanen, Panay Bukidnon, Ata Manobo and Cordillera IPs revealed their rich cultural heritage through outstanding performances.

It was a forum that highlighted the need to support the IPs in their efforts to have full mastery of and confidence in their cultural identity.

Leading the Covenant for Cultural Survival, which called on the government to protect and revive our rich cultural and environmental heritage, the Senator stressed that “cultural identity is the core and indispensable source of socio-economic empowerment.

“Our IPs traveled back home with a good reason to hope – that while they may be in far-flung areas, we do not have to live apart. I am confident that our common vision and values will weave us together as we seek to empower those who have given meaning to our being a Filipino.”


We, advocates for the empowerment of indigenous peoples (IP), coming together at the National Indigenous Cultural Summit on 13 October 2011 with the intention of providing a firm platform for IPs to highlight their right to and role in sustainable development,

Recognize that cultural identity is the fundamental source of socio-economic survival and a dynamic force for empowerment;

Acknowledge that the effective engagement of IPs in discourse with policy-makers and development partners entails mastery of and confidence in one’s identity and an affirmation of one’s cultural integrity;

Commit to reinforce the voices of IPs through firm and fervent support for cultural rootedness and enhanced productivity;

Resolve to advance their rights to ancestral domains and lands, self-governance, social justice and human rights, and cultural integrity;

And call on the government to protect and revive our rich cultural and environmental heritage, which rightfully belongs to the next generation of Filipinos.

By heeding our collective voice, the Filipino people will be enlightened to the wisdom that the survival of the indigenous peoples is crucial to the survival of the entire Filipino nation, enabling it to stand tall in today’s complexly constituted, multicultural and globalized world.

  • October 14, 2011 |
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