June 21, 2024

Every 9th of August, the world celebrates International Day of Indigenous Peoples.
The celebration was declared by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1994 to raise awareness on the unique culture of indigenous peoples (IPs), recognize their valuable contributions and accomplishments that improved global living conditions, and protect and promote the rights and welfare of the IPs around the world.
The IPs have rich cultures and views. They have valuable contributions to the world’s heritage through their interdependent knowledge and understanding on social, economic, environmental, and spiritual systems all over the world.
This year, the celebration is anchored on the theme “Indigenous youth as agents of change for self-determination” which asserts the role of IP youth in decision-making on aspects of climate change, justice, intergenerational connection, culture, and tradition. The IP youth is being encouraged to work as agents of change and to be at the forefront in contributing to a more sustainable and peaceful future.
The Binadang Ya Layad Nan Igorot Para Isnan Ornus Ya Kappia Nan Mountain Province Ken Intero A Kordilyera (Blomp) joins with the world in celebrating the IPs rich culture around the world. The officers and members also see the important role of not just the IP youth in changing our society.
But it still saddens us that armed groups such as the New People’s Army and its allies, the Communist Party of the Philippines and National Democratic Front of the Philippines, continue to ruin the lives of innocent IP youth and the youth in general with their recruitment activities.
The CPP-NDF-NPA robs the youth of their future by deceiving and recruiting them to become armed fighters with the promise of achieving self-determination, championing IP rights, and protecting ancestral domains.
The IPs including us here in the Cordillera, have rich culture and knowledge of our history; hence, we should hold on to these to stand on our own and fight for our own rights, resources, land and life.
Let this be the center of our celebration of the World Indigenous Peoples’ Day 2023. Let us not allow groups claiming to be our defenders to use our causes to pursue to political agenda of the armed groups.
We therefore urge the Cordillerans to be agents of change and to stand against the lies and deception of the armed groups that hamper our country’s progress and development that we all deserve.
Happy World Indigenous Peoples’ Day. — JAMES BIAG, BLOMP president