Teaching of indigenous studies a must – solon

IN AN effort to correct misconceptions and misrepresentations of indigenous peoples (IPs), a party-list congressman has filed a bill pushing for the mandatory study of the history, culture and identity of indigenous peoples and cultural communities in all public and private schools.

Kabataan Partylist Representative Raymond Palatino filed House Bill 3963 or the “Indigenous Studies Act of 2010” mandating the teaching of IP studies in schools to correct the discrimination and misrepresentations of IPs by mass media and educational institutions.

“Many television shows and movies, and unfortunately, some schools, books and educational materials usually portray and depict IPs as harmful, ‘uncivilized’ monkeys who are the lowest form of human life and are incapable of living by themselves,” said Palatino.

He said that while some educational institutions perpetuate racial discrimination against IPs, schools themselves can shatter this distorted picture of IPs.

He said at the heart of this proposal is the need to understand the historical and cultural context upon which IPs exist and ultimately, correct existing economic policies and conditions that continue to push IPs at the brink of survival.

“It is hoped that by educating the citizens, particularly the youth, on the indigenous peoples’ history and way of living, they would realize and understand that the struggles and aspirations of the indigenous peoples for genuine democracy and national patrimony are not separate from theirs,” he said.

Palatino said the past administration has sold off vast ancestral lands of indigenous communities, while mining still remains to be the primary source of distress and human rights violations among IPs.

“Despite their rich cultures being a source of pride in the Filipino heritage, the country’s indigenous peoples of the Philippines have always been continually pushed to the brink of survival,” said Palatino.

He added: “They remain discriminated against and marginalized from politics and governance, while their properties and territories are being usurped.”

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