Privilege Speech of Sen. Loren Legarda: International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

August 10, 2022



International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

Senate of the Philippines

August 10, 2022


Mr. President,

My dear colleagues,

I rise on a matter of personal and collective privilege.

August 9 marked a momentous day for indigenous peoples all over the world and in the Philippines because yesterday, we celebrated the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (IP) and the Philippine National IP Day.

In 2015, I sponsored Republic Act No. 10689, which declared August 9 as National Indigenous Peoples Day in recognition and protection of the rights and causes of the IPs across the country.

Pagkalipas ng pitong taon, labis kong ikinagagalak na makitang mas pinapahalagahan ng ating mga kapwang Pilipino ang ating mga kapatid na katutubo.

Every day, we see more Filipinos transforming traditional textiles and materials into beautiful, contemporary pieces, such as clothing, furniture, and artworks. We also see more public support, even clamor, for such creations. It is no secret that I, myself, have a deep love and appreciation for these tropical fabrics and native products. Indeed, today is a fitting recognition of our IPs who give meaning to our identity as Filipinos.

As we honor our IP brothers and sisters, the bearers of our cultural diversity, and their overwhelming contributions to our rich arts, culture, and heritage, may we also be reminded of how far we still need to go. Mr. President, my dear colleagues, nararapat nating bigyang pansin ang mga pangangailangan ng mga katutubong Pilipino at bigyang lunas ang kanilang mga suliranin.

There are 110 indigenous groups in the country, with each community possessing its own traditional knowledge and practices. More than expressing our appreciation for them, August 9 should serve as a constant reminder that we should provide the needed support for our IPs to strengthen their part in nation-building. It is also a timely reminder for us public servants to craft and promote measures that benefit our IPs and value their rights as we continue to protect our cultural heritage amid the challenges of modernization. The ways and means of our IPs may be considered “ancient” compared to those of the modern society, but everything that defines us as Filipinos is rooted in the creativity, resourcefulness, and passion of our forefathers.

For these reasons, I continue to advocate for policies and programs that would give respect, recognition, and opportunities due to our IPs. I spearheaded the creation of the National Museum’s Baybayin Gallery and Manlilikha ng Bayan Gallery. I have also dedicated my efforts in reviving the age-old tradition of weaving, creating the country’s first permanent textile gallery, Hibla ng Lahing Filipino at the National Museum, and leading the Hibla Travelling Exhibition which has already reached Portugal, Madrid, New York, San Francisco, Tokyo, Singapore, and Geneva, among others.

I have actively supported the creation of Schools of Living Traditions (SLTs), as well as the documentation of indigenous knowledge and traditional practices.

As a legislator, I also continue to fight for the strengthened protection of the rights and cultural heritage of our IPs and communities. As the Chair of the Senate Committee on Cultural Communities in 2011, I successfully organized regional assemblies—in Baguio City for Luzon IPs, in Iloilo City for Visayas IPs, and in Tagum City, Davao del Norte for Mindanao IPs—and the First National Indigenous Cultural Summit that served as avenues for dialogue with local and national policymakers as well as international institutions.

As Congresswoman of the lone district of Antique, I filed a resolution to investigate the sale of counterfeit Cordillera garments and fabrics from abroad.

In my return in the Senate this 19th Congress, I have filed Senate Bill No. 831, which underscores the important role our indigenous communities play as partners in the conservation and preservation of protected areas within their ancestral domains. I also filed the IP Resource Centers Bill under Senate Bill No. 838, as well as Senate Bill No. 839, or the proposed Traditional Property Rights of IPs Act, which seeks to support traditional artists and artisans by ensuring that their rights are safeguarded.

As a sign of gratitude for my work, the cultural communities of Mindanao adopted me as “Bae Matumpis,” which means “the one who takes care.”

These are only few among all our accomplishments in protecting and promoting the rights of our IPs, culture, and heritage. Despite these, there is still so much to be done. Imagine how much more we can accomplish if we further prioritize programs and initiatives aimed in addressing the needs and issues of indigenous communities.

That is why, Mr. President, my esteemed colleagues, as we honor the rich and vibrant culture of our IPs, I also urge each and every one of you to rise to the challenges and join me as “Bae Matumpis”.

Together, let us all be “the ones who take care”.

Thank you.