Message of Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda Launching of books on Ifugao Culture June 14, 2021

June 14, 2021

It is a great honor to be part of this book project that has yielded  two books on Ifugao Culture – the Ifugao Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices and the INABOL: Traditional and Contemporary Ifugao Textiles.  I also note that we are holding the booklaunch just in time for celebration of Gotad Ifugao this year.


Ifugao is a very special place for me because of the rich cultural heritage and abundant natural resources that this province is fortunately blessed with.


Today is indeed a celebration of our cultural heritage and traditions. Amid modernization and acculturation, publication of books like these would be a great way to document and preserve the culture and traditions of our forefathers that we wish to pass on to the future generations. The Ifugao’s vast knowledge, rich culture and traditions are vital in solidifying the mold of our nation’s identity. If we lose it, we may as well have lost the sense of who we are.


Culture defines us as a people and our cultural heritage is an invaluable asset that must be nurtured as we work towards economic and social development. Looking back at the traditions of our ancestors, we realize how much they valued nature and culture. Fast forward to the present day, we find that the old ways are the very foundation that will guide us through our way to progress. The traditions of the past will allow us to overcome many of the challenges that we face today.


Ifugao is known to the world mainly because of the majestic Ifugao Rice Terraces, but this province has a lot more heritage to boast of and this wealth is what we must all strive to preserve, promote and embrace.


The Philippines has a rich cultural heritage and diverse traditions and culture that we have to promote cultural awareness to ensure their continuity. We have to explore initiatives on reintroducing, especially to the younger generation, our culture and traditions. It is but fitting to help bring our culture closer to our people, to reawaken the citizens’ pride in our culture, history and heritage, and to strengthen our nationalism.


Thus, as a legislator, as well as in my personal capacity as an advocate of cultural preservation, I have initiated programs and collaborated with different agencies of government to address the concerns of our IPs. I co-authored the National Cultural  Heritage Act, which calls for the preservation of historical and heritage sites. We have also opened livelihood opportunities, especially for indigenous weaving communities through trade fairs, in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM). We continuously showcase the indigenous knowledge systems and practices of indigenous cultural communities (ICCs through projects such as the Hibla ng Lahing Filipino, the country’s first permanent textile gallery at the National Museum; the Dayaw TV series on the preservation of the country’s culture and heritage, in partnership with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA); and the Cordillera Region’s coffee table book on indigenous knowledge systems on agriculture and forest conservation.


In the House of Representatives, I authored House Bill No. 6891, An Act Strengthening the Conservation and Protection of National Cultural Heritage through Enhanced Cultural Heritage Education Programs and Cultural Mapping, and House Bill No. 634 or the Department of Culture Act. Moreover, to develop the handloom industry, I also filed House Bill No. 636, also known as the Act Providing for the Development and Protection of the Philippine Handloom Weaving Industry.


During my stint as the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, we initiated the funding of Php 5 million pesos for the conduct of studies on “Ifugao Weaving and Other Related Indigenous Knowledge Systems” which are geared towards: a) the writing and printing of a coffee table book that will document and share vital information related to Ifugao weaving to enhance existing literature on the subject and provide a comprehensive educational material for younger Filipinos.  The coffee table book is titled, “Inabol: Traditional and Contemporary Ifugao Textiles”; and, b) the revision and updating of the Ifugao Indigenous Knowledge Workbook into the “Ifugao Indigenous Knowledge, Systems and Practices” that will contain important culturally-based stories that can be used by teachers to enhance their teaching specially in the DepEd’s Indigenous Education both in the elementary and secondary levels and in the Ifugao Statue University’s (IFSU’s) indigenized curriculum where IKSP is one of the subjects.


Years ago, we also launched the book, titled Guardians of the Forest, Stewards of the Land, a joint undertaking of my Office, the Cordillera Administrative Region Association of State Universities and Colleges (CARASUC), the State Universities and Colleges of the Cordillera Administrative Region Research, Development and Extension Consortium (SUCCARRDEC), and the Cordillera Indigenous Knowledge Network (CordIKnowN).


This coffee table book made by SUCs in the Cordillera region was an impressive work that gives tribute to the forefathers of the Cordillerans who were true models of sustainability, as we know that the Cordillera Region is home to a number of indigenous forest conservation systems, like the muyung in Ifugao, batangan in Mountain Province, imong in Kalinga, chontog in Benguet, and lapat in Abra and Apayao. These forest management practices are farming systems made distinct by the traditions of each indigenous community and which exemplify the values that these culture-bearers keep.


The Ifugao Region is also rich in textile weaving, plant-based artisanal handicrafts and related indigenous knowledge systems which have to be documented. This printed publication of Ifugao weaving as an economic activity of many marginalized communities in the province will bring about renewed interest in traditional Ifugao textiles and related artisanal crafts which will in turn contribute to increased marketability of the said products. Moreover, it is high time and timely to further improve, update, enhance and expand the content and discussion of the Ifugao indigenous knowledge in order to provide more reliable information that indigenous people, researchers and future generation will all benefit from.


The reflection of the creativity, resourcefulness and passion of our ancestors in creating their own identity, building a sustainable community, forming unique practices, surviving with their own rich culture should be protected and passed on to the new generation because I believe that the knowledge systems and practices of our IPs are the same solutions that will help us address the challenges of modern times.


Let us continue to implement programs and initiate many other projects like this to protect our IPs and promote our heritage. I encourage everyone of you here to keep your eyes open to the diversity of the challenges our IPs face, especially amid the technological advances. Let us all be heritage warriors. Together let us know the concerns and address the more pressing needs of our IP communities to find ways to save and preserve our heritage.


As we launch these significant books today, let us be proud of these treasures and hope that this heritage would not only be written in the pages of these books but would be continuously practised and preserved.


Thank you.