Thursday, October 1, 2015

October: National Indigenous Peoples Month

By Anton Antonio
October 1, 2015

I have often referred to the Indigenous People communities as the “poorest of the poor”.  This is, perhaps, contrary to the perception of many that urban informal settlers are the poor in our society.  Well, the informal settlers could be poor, alright… but the indigenous people living in remote uplands are the poorest of the poor.  It is unfortunate, however, that the IPs are not in the consciousness of the “lowlanders”… perhaps because of their geographical location.  Lowlanders tend to be myopic in crafting and prioritizing programs to assist the less-fortunate sector in our society.  Logistical problems make it more convenient to implement social responsibility assistance programs to the poor living amongst us.  More often, the poorer, or poorest, communities in the upland are not considered at all.

In an effort to increase the level of awareness on the plight of the “poorest of the poor”, or at the very least inform us that Indigenous Peoples do exist, Proclamation No. 1906 was signed into law on October 5, 2009…

WHEREAS, the Constitution mandates the recognition and protection of the rights of indigenous cultural communities/indigenous peoples (ICCs/IPs) within the framework of national unity and development;
WHEREAS, Republic Act No. 8371, dated October 29, 1997, known as the “Indigenous Peoples Rights Act” (IPRA) carried into effect the aforementioned Constitutional mandate;
WHEREAS, Proclamation No. 486 declaring October 29 of every year as National Indigenous Peoples Thanksgiving Day was issued in order to accord due recognition and national attention to the importance of this day, and to uphold the United Nation’s General Assembly Declaration of the years 2005-2014 as the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People;
WHEREAS, Section 12 of Republic Act 7356 mandates the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) to encourage the continuing and balanced development of a pluralistic culture by the people; conserve and promote the nation’s historical cultural heritage; and ensure the widest dissemination of artistic and cultural products among the greatest number across the country and overseas for their appreciation and enjoyment;
WHEREAS, the NCCA in partnership with a host City, has successfully spearheaded the Indigenous Peoples Month Celebration during the whole month of October for the past two years in observance of Proclamation No. 486 and the Second International Decade of World’s Indigenous People;
WHEREAS, in recognition of the above, the month of October should be declared in the context of Philippine Indigenous Peoples’ Rights as the month of people’s participation in the celebration and preservation of Indigenous Cultural Communities as part of the Life of the Nation.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, President of the Republic of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by law, do hereby declare October of every year as NATIONAL INDIGENOUS PEOPLES MONTH.
All agencies of the Government are hereby enjoined to actively participate in the celebration in accordance with the spirit of this proclamation. The NCCA through its Subcommission on Cultural Communities and Traditional Arts (SCCTA) shall act as the lead agency in the planning, coordination, and implementation of the program of activities and events, and in liaising with appropriate international organizations linked with UNESCO for the promotion of cultural diversity, in cooperation with the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), Office of the Muslim Affairs (OMA), Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the Republic of the Philippines to be affixed.
DONE, in the City of Manila, this 5th day of October, in the year of Our Lord, Two Thousand and Nine.

Helping the informal settlers, our society’s “poor”, is a noble task.  But going the extra mile to help the “poorest of the poor” is a divine task.  Today, as we begin this month, let’s all think… October: National Indigenous Peoples Month.

Thoughts to promote positive action…

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Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, (2015). “Proclamation No. 1906, Declaring the Month of October of Every Year as National Indigenous Peoples Month”.  Retrieved on October 1, 2015 from

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