November 29, 2023

October, just like most months, wears several “hats” in the scheme of things in our beautiful archipelago of delicious coconuts and smiling carabaos. If this near-sighted Ibaloy writer remembers correctly, not only is October known as Scouting Month, it is also Senior Citizens Month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, let’s not forget good ole Octoberfest, and more. The 10th month of the year also happens to be Indigenous Peoples Month.
A report from the Philippine Information Agency-Cordillera said this year’s theme is “Pagpapayaman ng pamanang kultural at katutubong yaman tungo sa mas maliwanag na kinabukasan para sa bagong Pilipinas.”
Also, it was Proclamation 1906 that declared October as IP Month, “as the month of people’s participation in the celebration and preservation of indigenous cultural communities as part of the life of the nation.”
As a full-blooded IP myself, being a proud Ibaloy whose ancestors were the original residents or settlers of Kafagway, then Bag-iw and currently known as Baguio City, the country’s undisputed Summer Capital, I am glad that an IP Month exists since it (hopefully) brings attention to the plight of IPs all over the country and also (again, hopefully) recognizes our immense contribution to nation building.
By the way, according to a United Nations website, IPs are inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to people and the environment. They have retained social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live.
Bottom line is, IPs or not, we are all human beings who deserve to be treated equally under the law and in society and given the utmost respect despite whatever differences we may have.