March 22, 2023

It is within our children’s reach to learn about our indigenous identity gifted by our ancestors through contextualization and curiosity regardless of flexible modes of learning.
The K-12 program recently emphasized the need to integrate Indigenous People’s Education (IPED) into its curriculum. This indigenous knowledge is contextualized with regards to the school community. It empowers the need for our education to root the identity of IPs in the corners of the classroom. Learning materials are authentically and primarily sourced out from screened IPs who lived their life practicing the knowledge.
When the parent and learner are fed up in answering the learning module, they antagonize the learnings and question its necessity in real life. It was different back then when our parents would give us the talk that education was the only heirloom they can give us so we need to finish school. It is then a challenge to shift perspective in learning an added curriculum that goes beyond real-life application but includes living itself.
Behind every good intention are the skeptics with scrutinizing questions that add up to the improvement of the project. Misconceptions surrounding the IPED include practicing the old ways, which lean towards the practice of animism and paganism of our ancestors. This is contradictory to its birth wherein the Department of Education and the IPs found common ground that established the program. Its main purpose is to respect indigenous identities and values and promote their knowledge systems, with high ambition that such identity will not be lost yet preserved for the coming hundred years.
Moreover, a famous Kankana-ey saying which goes, “Adi tako bukodan di gawis,” comes to mind. It is literally translated in English as “No one person should own what is good, it is to be shared.” This is not just appropriate during cultural festivities but in all kinds of learning. Thus, we should not allow our children to leave behind the footsteps of the past. This only means that we might have failed as educators and parents.
The learner is also challenged to do the bare minimum and research its own cultural identity. This is through having in-depth family conversations with the old wise men and women of the family. We are lucky to still have our grandparents who survived indigenous ways and we reap their hardships by enjoying our modern life.
Language has always been the intrinsic expression of one’s culture. It is my empirical observation that parents insist on using our colonizers’ language over our own language. Maybe because they are a victim of the same notion or they are misguided with the idea that it is the measure of success or intelligence. While it is not generally bad, the child should not be deprived of its own motherland language. This is one of IPED’s designed purposes to further indigenous conservation and preservation.
In hindsight, learning materials are slowly being translated into indigenous languages. Indigenous knowledge is not limited to practices or cultural dances but includes local stories, anecdotes, and proverbs. In Benguet alone, orthographies were already finalized and published into the three major languages of the region which are Kankana-ey, Kalanguya, and Ibaloy. According to Merriam Webster, orthography is the art of writing words with the proper letters according to standard usage
With these in mind, the IPED is designed to push the fight for indigenous education as we open the walls of our classroom to the indigenous society who lived before us. (ANGELINE L. INYAKA)