My son’s lamen­ta­tion

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Opinion - BY FERDAUSI SANIEL CERNA

Since my first ar­ti­cle was pub­lished, many of my IP friends and fam­ily mem­bers also ex­pressed their de­sires to con­trib­ute their write ups. This only shows that there are in­deed emo­tions, sen­ti­ments and feel­ings that have long been kept in the closet. So al­low me please to start with my first born, Lin­naeus Ferdausi G. Cerna, to quote:

IPs – long for­got­ten, con­tin­u­ously for­saken …

Let me just start by jus­ti­fy­ing the topic that I have cho­sen to dis­cuss. Since the col­o­niza­tion of the Spa­niards, the IPs have al­ready been sub­ject to pe­jo­ra­tive re­marks and even to the de­mo­niza­tion of their cul­ture. IKSP or Indige­nous Knowl­edge, Sys­tems, and Prac­tices have long been dis­re­spected as it was the strat­egy for let­ting the peo­ple come and pray to­gether in the house of God. In fact, the terms aswang and man­anang­gal have been made up in or­der to dis­cour­age peo­ple from go­ing to the moun­tains; and as if the IPs weren’t vic­tim­ized enough, th­ese brand­ing of women also di­luted the cul­ture of re­spect for the fe­males of our so­ci­ety (i.e. babay­lan, binukot) who then wielded cul­tural, spir­i­tual, and some­times politico-eco­nomic prow­ess.

To add salt to the wound, his­tor­i­cal re­vi­sion­ism placed us in an im­pos­si­ble po­si­tion to ac­knowl­edge, let alone ap­pre­ci­ate, the re­sis­tance that the IPs and the Mus­lim broth­ers and sis­ters made dur­ing the col­o­niza­tion pe­riod. It was as if the pres­ence of col­o­niz­ers were nor­mal­ized. Is this a ro­man­ti­ciza­tion of our hos­pi­tal­ity?

And in the process of the gov­ern­ment try­ing to re­deem its image to the IPs or even just for photo op­por­tu­ni­ties, we have in­ap­pro­pri­ately reached out to the indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties – not with a help­ing hand but with a prof­i­teer­ing one.

With all that has been said, the stu­dent had come up with the three poignant is­sues that con­tinue to beat the al­ready bat­tered IPs.


A Bo’e (a fe­male coun­ter­part of a Datu from the Obo-Manobo of Ki­da­pawan) once told me that she was asked if the peo­ple of her tribe still had tails. This can be viewed as a show of ig­no­rance but can we re­ally blame the un­e­d­u­cated Filipino if main­stream me­dia por­tray the IPs only wear­ing their ba­hag?

Just like many un­in­formed, mis­con­tex­tu­al­ized, and un­sub­stan­ti­ated in­sti­tu­tions, the ide­o­log­i­cal state ap­pa­ra­tus (e.g. church, school, fam­ily, me­dia, etc.) pro­vide mys­tery and mis­di­rec­tion in lieu of con­text and grass­roots pri­mary data. The com­mon mil­lenial Filipino is not im­bibed with the cul­ture of cu­rios­ity for deeper knowl­edge yet, so we need to ad­dress this prob­lem in the sim­plest and ba­sic way pos­si­ble.

First we need a re­vamp in our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem – where teach­ers would in­te­grate IKSP in health, sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy. There is no need for a di­chotomy

when it comes to ad­dress­ing health or food pro­cure­ment for ex­am­ple, since both mod­ern and tra­di­tional prac­tices can be both used in a par­al­lel man­ner, as deemed ap­pro­pri­ate.

Fur­ther­more, we need to un­der­stand that all of us are tribes­peo­ple. Tra­di­tional, semi-cul­tured, and fully en­cul­tur­ated are the types of tribes­men and tribeswomen. It just so hap­pened that some were con­verted to Chris­tian­ity and have aban­doned their cul­tural roots. So it is up to us learned stu­dents to be the bridge. There shouldn’t be tribo and hindi tribo any­more as it breeds an­tag­o­nism and even strug­gle be­tween the two fac­tions. Af­ter all, at the end of the day, we are all Filipinos and we must ex­haust our ef­forts for the devel­op­ment and progress of our coun­try, with no group left be­hind.


There is no more bit­ter word than this, in the con­text of Marx with re­spect to the ef­fect of cap­i­tal­ism to the work­ing pro­le­tariat. But this word is used in the IPs plight in for­ward­ing its in­ter­est to the ex­ec­u­tive, ju­di­ciary, and leg­isla­tive wings of the gov­ern­ment. Aside from the oner­ous and al­most not-prac­ticed IPRA law, there is no more act that pro­tects the IP. We beg to ask the ques­tion – were they even con­sulted in the first place?

The ju­di­ciary side of the gov­ern­ment sees the au­ton­omy of the Sharia Law. With that train of thought, there also needs to be an ac­knowl­edge­ment of the cus­tom­ary laws of the IP – in or­der for the as­sailant and the vic­tim to be prop­erly brought to jus­tice, as the IP com­mu­nity sees it fit. This can be done through lob­by­ing of con­cerned par­ties and congress peo­ple.

The leg­isla­tive, is of course, not only lim­ited to the lower and up­per house but also stems to the SB mem­bers and barangay ka­gawad. There is poor or even no con­sul­ta­tion hap­pen­ing be­tween IPs and the gov­ern­ment, and this breeds mis­un­der­stand­ing and per­haps anger to­wards the op­po­site party. It is there­fore im­per­a­tive for the law­mak­ers, or­di­nance mak­ers, and mu­nic­i­pal or­der mak­ers to con­sult first all the sec­tors that are present among its con­stituents in or­der to en­sure a more pop­ulist and dia­lec­tic ap­proach in law mak­ing, all the more if the mu­nic­i­pal­ity is dom­i­nated by IP com­mu­ni­ties.

The ex­ec­u­tive, prob­a­bly the most im­por­tant wing in en­sur­ing that the IP has the rights, is of­ten the cul­prit of with­hold­ing th­ese rights. The Na­tional Demo­cratic Front’s view of the Na­tional Com­mis­sion on Indige­nous Peo­ples is that is should be abol­ished for it does not truly rep­re­sent the IPs and that it also acts as con­duit for cor­rup­tion and graft (2017 draft for Com­pre­hen­sive Agree­ment on So­cial and Eco­nomic Re­form). I be­lieve that the leader of this coun­try should rub el­bows with all its cab­i­net mem­bers in or­der to im­pose a call for ac­tion or a team that is con­cerned with IP re­quests – much like the IP Desk of the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources.

The IPs should never be alien­ated from the de­ci­sion mak­ing and re­source al­lo­ca­tion.


Filip­iniza­tion is dif­fer­ent from Na­tion­al­iza­tion as the for­mer can be a loop­hole for a Filipino (or in our re­al­ity, a Chi­nese-Filipino) to still be the one ex­ploit­ing his fel­low coun­try­men when he seizes the ma­jor­ity of the power of the mar­ket. Cor­rup­tion and greed are ar­bi­trary, so what can we do?

Let us stop and look at what is truly hap­pen­ing to the IPs here in our coun­try. Hun­dreds ac­counted, and pos­si­bly thou­sands if we in­clude the un­ac­counted for.

Com­pa­nies con­tinue to ex­ploit the IP com­mu­ni­ties by for­ag­ing the an­ces­tral do­mains through large scale min­ing and log­ging. Para­mil­i­tary groups emerge when th­ese com­pa­nies give “roy­alty shares” such as cars and jew­ellery to trust­ing Da­tus. The ques­tion is do they re­ally need th­ese?

Agu­sanon Mano­bos (to the knowl­edge of the stu­dent) have been given the du­plic­i­tous choice be­tween 500 thou­sand pe­sos and 2% Roy­alty Share – of course the Da­tus would opt to see the for­mer as the bet­ter op­tion, but they do not know that bil­lions are gar­nered ev­ery year. The 500 thou­sand pales to the bil­lions that the com­pany gains. Let us look at it as a) an ex­ploita­tion of the low ed­u­ca­tion of the tribal lead­ers and b) the irony in the bil­lions that th­ese com­pa­nies reap but only give 2% tax as stated in the Min­ing Act of 1995.

The prob­lem is struc­tural. When the state does not strong arm its in­vestors and the mar­ket, it no longer holds its power in fil­ter­ing what is right and ap­pro­pri­ate for its peo­ple. There­fore, we need to lis­ten more to the peo­ple and act for the marginal­ized. See the progress of the econ­omy not dis­so­ci­ated with the com­mand of the state. Most im­por­tantly, there should al­ways be dis­course and bi­par­ti­san talks be­tween the state and its stake­hold­ers to truly hear what they have to say.”

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