Message of Senator Loren Legarda
Dayaw 2014: Philippine Indigenous Peoples Festival
September 29, 2014 – NCCA
Our indigenous peoples never fail to amaze me. Whenever I visit a province and go to IP communities, I always discover marvelous things about our culture and heritage like intricately woven fabrics, cultural songs, chants and dances that narrate the story of our ancestors, and the distinct way of life that our indigenous peoples, who are our culture-bearers, strive to preserve.
But aside from me, many others, not only Filipinos but even foreigners, appreciate our IPs and their unique culture. In 2012, when then Queen Sofia of Spain visited the Philippines and had a tour of the Hibla ng Lahing Filipino textile gallery at the National Museum, she was very amazed especially when weavers from Ifugao performed a Hudhud for Harvest Chant as well as a farewell chant for Queen Sofia. She loved the chants and spoke to the Ifugaos one by one and said they have a certain mysticism about them. The Queen was also very interested with the textile gallery as she inquired much on the various textiles and where they came from. She appreciated Filipino indigenous textiles and culture very much that she exclaimed, “It was the best of the best of the best!”
Also in 2012, when we launched the Hibla Pavilion of Textiles and Weaves as part of the Manila FAME Design and Lifestyle Event, local and foreign tourists alike marveled at the weaving traditions of our IPs, like the B’laan tradition of mother-of-pearl beaded garments; the T’Boli tradition of producing beaded belts where sequin, brass bells and beadwork are applied; and the panubok embroidery tradition of the Panay Bukidnons.
No less than our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, was fascinated by the magnificent skill and artistry of our IPs. He had a collection of Philippine indigenous textiles, which he eventually gifted to his friend, German ethnologist Adolf Bastian. The collection is now stored at the Ethnological Museum of Berlin and we are facilitating the exhibition of the collection here in the country.
We have a very rich culture. I salute our indigenous peoples for preserving our culture and I thank the NCCA, led by Chair Jun De Leon, for always showcasing our indigenous heritage through the Dayaw Festival.
We have a lot to learn and rediscover about our culture and through the Dayaw Festival, which this year will be held in three different venues in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, we will see more indigenous performances, rituals, forums, traditional cuisine demos, traditional games, arts and crafts exhibit, among others.
The theme for this year’s Dayaw Festival is very timely,“Katutubong Filipino Para sa Kalikasan at Kapayapaan.”
Today we are faced with the great challenge of protecting our environment and conserving our natural resources to mitigate climate change and build our resilience to disasters.
It is sad to note that despite the fact that indigenous peoples contribute the least with respect to carbon emissions due to their simple and sustainable lifestyles and practices, they are most affected by the consequences of climate change.
As we work on several pieces of legislation on environmental protection and biodiversity conservation, such as the Protected Areas Declaration Act, the Integrated Coastal Management Act, and the National Land Use Act, I urge our IPs to continue to be the primary guardians of our environment.
I assure you as well that we are continuously working on other measures that will benefit our IPs. In fact, as Chair of the Committee on Cultural Communities, I will soon sponsor the proposed Ethnic Origin Act, which defines ethnicity and indigenous peoples or indigenous cultural communities, and shall be the basis of the enumerators of the Philippine Statistics Authority in gathering data on ethnic origin. With accurate data, we are hopeful that the government will be able to efficiently provide basic services and better opportunities for our IPs.
We are also working on several other bills that I filed in the Senate to create the Department of Culture; to preserve the country’s folk arts through the National Museum’s regional branches; to safeguard the cultural property rights of the indigenous cultural communities (ICCs); to guarantee equal employment opportunities to the members of ICCs; to establish resource centers that will enhance and ensure delivery of essential services to ICCs; and to prohibit discrimination based on ethnicity, race, religion or belief, language, disability or other status.
In closing, I wish to encourage all Filipinos to participate and witness our tradition and heritage through the Dayaw Festival.
Culture is our common ground as a people. We have to find that common ground so that we remain connected to one another, to find the essence of being Filipino. We have to know about and be proud of what we have and where we came from so that we can strengthen the unity among our citizens. Our culture, no matter how diverse, weaves us into one unbreakable fabric that is the Filipino soul.