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Legarda on Int’l Day for DRR: We Can Learn From Our IPs in Building Resilience

October 12, 2015

In celebration of the International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) on October 13, Senator Loren Legarda today lauded indigenous communities that continue to utilize their indigenous knowledge systems and practices to build resilience from natural hazards and climate change.

The IDDR’s theme for this year is “Knowledge for Life”, acknowledging that traditional, indigenous and local knowledge are essential elements in building resilience of communities.

“Looking back at the traditions of our ancestors, we realize how much they valued nature and culture—to be one with the community and one with the earth. Fast forward to the modern present, we find that the old ways are the very foundation that will guide us through our way to progress. The knowledge systems and practices of indigenous peoples are the same solutions that will help us address the challenges of modern times, including natural hazards exacerbated by climate change,” said Legarda, UN Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific.

On October 9, Legarda led the celebration of IDDR in the Philippines and joined the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), represented by Dr. Jerry Velasquez, in conferring the Champion of Resilience citation to the Ifugao community.

“The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction honors the Ifugao community who have been particularly active in protecting the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras, a UNESCO world heritage site,” said Velasquez in conferring the recognition.

“The Ifugao rice terraces are marvels of human ingenuity, industry and adaptation to harsh environments. The preservation of the terraces, the irrigation system and the cultural practices that go with them are important demonstrations of harmony between man and nature despite the negative impacts of climate change and unsustainable development practices,” he added.

Ifugao Province Governor Denis Habawel, together with Engr. Loinaz Dulawan of the Ifugao State University and Marlon Martin of Save the Ifugao Terraces Movement (SITMo), received the citation on behalf of the Ifugao people.

“If there is a word for Ifugao, it’s resilience. They have been living adapting to climate. The Rice Terraces are a testament to this. Even the Ifugao house, the posts are not embedded on the ground, and yet you don’t hear of any Ifugao house toppled by the wind because it was built aerodynamically. We are happy that the resilience of Ifugao has been recognized,” said Habawel.

As a sign of gratitude for the citation, a group of Ifugaos performed the Hudhud Chants and traditional Ifugao dance.

The Hudhud, which symbolize special episodes in the life of the Ifugaos such as sowing and harvesting of rice, funeral wakes, and bone-washing rituals, is a UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

“The people of Ifugao, along with other indigenous peoples from the Cordillera region, continue to practise their indigenous knowledge systems on agriculture and forest conservation. We can learn from their ways, which have endured many challenges and changes in the environment. In return, we must also address the concerns of local communities and indigenous peoples and empower them as stewards of environment and cultural heritage,” said Legarda.