December 3, 2023

Indigenous peoples across the country proudly showcased their traditional games in the 2023 Cultural Communities Week (CCW) celebration. 

The theme of this year’s celebration, “Mga laro ng salinlahi, saligang haligi ng katutubong lipi,” aims to emphasize and exhibit traditional indigenous games and sports as a means through which IPs can assert, commemorate, advocate for, and safeguard their diverse cultural heritage and identity, both within the Philippines and globally.

National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Chairperson Allen Capuyan, during the opening program of 2023 CCW on July 10, underlined the importance of indigenous games and sports in bringing people together across political, religious, and cultural divides.

Capuyan said sports is crucial in bridging the gap between the indigenous cultural communities (ICC)/IPs and the mainstream society, leading to a greater understanding and recognition of one’s identity. 

“It teaches many important values and abolishes social differences as it gives everyone equal opportunities to perform,” he said.

It also provides an opportunity for the public to learn and experience aspects of the IP culture through participation in the various recreational sports activities. 

“Let us continue to raise awareness about the IPs/ICCs in our country by honoring their contribution and relevance to the nation’s progress and preserving their cultural heritage,” Capuyan said. 

The showcase of traditional games does not only invigorate the identity of IPs but more importantly, convey their story, said NCIP-Cordillera Director Atanacio D. Addog.

Philippine Information Agency Director-General Jose A. Torres Jr., himself a Subanen from Mindanao, also extended his message of support for the CCW 2023 highlighting the need to preserve the deep culture of IPs not only for the country but the other parts of the world.

Ipinapaalala sa atin ng mga katutubong larong ito na maituturing na yaman ng lahing Pilipino ang pagiging bata. Tuluy-tuloy nating ituro sa ating mga anak ang nakagisnan nating kultura na minana natin sa ating mga ninuno,” he said.

During the virtual program, some IP games of the Cordillerans such as the chepap or depap (catching pig/chicken), kinuyuran or kinujuran (tug-of-war), and kadang-kadang (stilt walking) were presented. 

House Committee on ICC and IP Chairperson and Kalinga Rep. Allen Jesse Mangaoang expressed optimism the celebration of 2023 CCW will serve as a catalyst for the promotion of the diverse cultures and traditions of IP groups in the country. 

“This celebration will not only showcase the rich culture and traditions of the 130 indigenous groups in the country, but also serves as a tribute to our indigeneity, and our incredible journey and continuing quest for cultural integrity,” Mangaoang said. 

He also called on the IPs to embrace their identity with pride and work together to foster development in indigenous communities. 

“Let us take pride in our identity as indigenous peoples and appreciate the inherent value and beauty of our customs and traditions. Together, let us move together in a clearer path in creating positive change and meaningful development for IP communities,” Mangaoang said. 

He thanked the NCIP for safeguarding the practices, traditions, and rights of the IPs. 

The celebration of Cultural Communities Week every second week of July is pursuant to Proclamation 250 signed by then President Corazon C. Aquino on April 20, 1988 in recognition of the importance of indigenous tribal Filipinos to national unity and development, and to focus attention on their colorful ethnic culture to enhance better understanding and cooperation among IPs and non-IPs. 

According to the 2020 Philippine Statistics Authority data, IPs in the country make up 9.1 percent of the total 108.67 million Filipinos. – PIA