Wednesday, 03 June 2020 16:24

Josefa Segovia Foundation and the Indigenous Peoples

DAVAO CITY. Philippines

For many years, JSF has supported the promotion of cultural regeneration of Indigenous People. Now, even in the face of the pandemic, the Indigenous Peoples Academy-Josefa Segovia has been inaugurated.

JSF has strengthened its partnership and collaboration with the different indigenous cultural communities (ICCs) since it celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2015 with the theme: “Building and shaping sustainable future while strengthening partnerships towards genuine peace and development.”

For many years, JSF has supported the promotion of cultural regeneration of Indigenous Peoples by enhancing the capacities of IP leaders according to their Indigenous Political Structure, Customary Laws, Indigenous Peoples Knowledge Systems vis-a-vis the Local Government Code of the Philippines.

moments with IpsJSF implemented this under different programs:

  • Good Governance Program (Strengthening democratic mechanism of Local Government Units and Indigenous Cultural Communities),
  • Volunteer Program (Local & International Partnership) engaging the youth on a wide range of issues and the promotion and recognition of youth volunteerism as a people-centered resource for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and
  • Infrastructure Support for Indigenous Peoples’ Education Program (Initiatives for promoting Peace and Multiculturalism).

New project

And this had given birth to the Indigenous Peoples Academy-Josefa Segovia. The proposed IP Academy - Josefa Segovia is a capacity-building project which aims to provide the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) and Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs) with community-based training workshops related to their rights to ancestral domain, self-governance and empowerment, cultural integrity, social justice, human rights and IPs and ICCs responsibilities.

This IP Academy - Josefa Segovia will become a Leadership Academy for the IPs that will promote multiculturalism, peace and development in Mindanao. JSF will develop holistic programs in empowering the Indigenous Peoples.

The participants are Indigenous men, women, youth and children from five major tribes: Ata, Bagobo-Klata, Bagobo-Tagabawa, Uvu-Manuvu, and Matigsalog-Manuvu. Most Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representatives and elders are composed of men. Women are equally important for they also have roles to play in the protection and management of their ancestral domains, thus the building of capacities of women is included in the academy even if they belong to patriarchal communities. The Indigenous Peoples Youth are the second liners of leaders and movers in the ancestral domains thus, there is a need to hone their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual and social well-being. The values formation is an important feature of this project.

It is envisioned to help address at least 6 of the 14 major thematic issues and concerns of the IPs/ICCs in the region:

  • weak IP governance,
  • discrimination of IPs,
  • loss of IP culture,
  • IPs lack of knowledge of their rights,
  • non-recognition of IP elders/leaders by different agencies
  • peace and unity.

Strengthening Partnerships

In the past, JSF has been building the capacities of IPs mainly through activities and fund-driven interventions, it will now move toward consolidating the IP capacity-building interventions in Davao City into an Academy where there will be continuity and relevance of program offerings, in partnership with government agencies especially the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Region XI and Provincial Offices and other groups involved in the promotion and development of IPs.

The Academy will be sustained by teacher-facilitators who are the Culture bearers from the five major tribes and by Cultural workers who will do the advocacy work.

IP academy is great accomplishment of collaborative efforts of govt agency and NGO. JSF together with its partners, InteRed, NCIP Region XI and Provincial Offices, Department of Interior and Local Government, Indigenous People Apostolate of Archdiocese of Davao, Teresian Association Sector XI, and other private individuals, launched on the radio program the IP Academy-Josefa Segovia last February 22, 2020. This was also timely in the Philippine Church celebration of the year of Ecumenism, Interreligious Dialogue and Indigenous Peoples.

There are non-IPs or migrants living inside the ancestral domains so there is a need to understand each other’s values and worldviews. Learning from their differences and commonalities this project will lead to a community of diversity in which respect, harmony and mutual well- being reign. The project will also gather different cultural communities and to share values, history and Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices in promoting goodwill and co-existence.

IP Women Federation Team buildingA cultural dream

The IP Academy Josefa Segovia will contribute to the education and development of this most neglected sector. This year is also the 30th Anniversary of JSF, IP Academy-Josefa Segovia is a tribute of the foundation to Venerable Josefa Segovia to make her known as well as her values from whom JSF also got its name. IP Academy is a cultural dream together with other partners for IP Development. Pope Francis on his exhortation Querida Amazonia aid in promoting the Amazon region, “the fact what education is meant to do; to cultivate without uprooting, to foster growth without weakening identity, to be supportive without being invasive.” It is also applicable with the Indigenous Cultural communities in the Philippines so to bring out the best from them.

As for me, the IP Academy is a work in progress- though an informal school. It is like riding a bicycle, one needs to put a lot of effort and directs which way to go and not riding on a bus where one only sits and waits until destination. This informal learning is a spontaneous and life-long activity with partners who are co-responsible in this journey of riding the bicycle until we reach our common dream for those who are in the peripheries.

Continuaremos la Obra

The formal opening of classes was set on March 23, 2020 but due to community quarantine brought about by the pandemic COVID-19, it did not pursue. After several meetings with different stakeholders, the IP Academy continued by giving on-air classes through a radio program, Kristohanong Kalambuan Alang sa Kalinaw (Christian Development for Peace) through DXGN 89.9 Spirit FM, a diocesan-owned radio station which is also shown live through social media (Facebook) due to the limitation caused by the quarantine. This is a monthly broadcast in partnership with the NCIP Region XI legal unit.

JSF will give incentives such as farm tools, seeds for food production, and radios among others to participants for their output and participation to encourage attendance. And as one of the post-Covid interventions a program called “One Tribe, One Crop” will also be implemented where each tribe will produce a crop which will be bartered to other crops from other tribes thus going back to the barter system.

The radio program is an answer to the educational needs and continuation of a dream that JSF together with its partners had envisioned for the IPs, and the pandemic brought by Covid-19 cannot stop them.

Josephine Estopil, Executive Director of Josefa Segovia Foundation. Davao.