The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), through Ethnographic Commissioner for Central Mindanao Bo-i Jennifer Pia Sibug-Las, turned over its Project Epanaw’s Three (3) Coffee Table Books (CTBs) to Consul General Neil Frank Ferrer at 447 Sutter Street, 6th Floor, Philippine Center Building, San Francisco, California last 09 December 2021. This is the second Philippine Consulate in the United States of America (USA) to have had officially received the set of CTBs which aim to promote awareness on the Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs), their cultures and traditions, and their Ancestral Domains (ADs) in the Philippines.
Commissioner Las stated clearly that the purposes of her visit to the PH Consulate were to have a courtesy call for the official turnover of the CTBs and to discuss possible areas of cooperation whereby both agencies of government can work together to deliver their mandates to promote Philippine culture specifically on the Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines within Consul General Ferrer’s consular jurisdiction in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Northern Nevada, Colorado, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, and Northern California.
She further mentioned that the project was the brainchild of NCIP Chairperson, Secretary Allen Capuyan, who is very grateful for the opportunity given to the agency by the Philippine Consulates/Embassy in the US, with the assistance from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) as the lead facilitator for coordination.
NCIP is reiterating in every opportunity that through the Project Epanaw, it seeks to pay tribute and memorialize the identities and rituals of the Indigenous Peoples as well as to highlight the importance of protecting their ADs. The first CTB, “Pagkilala” (Recognize), showcases the profiles of ICCs/IPs. It contains information about their history, location, and overview of their social and daily lives. The second CTB, “Paggalang” (Respect), features festivals and rituals that the ICCs/IPs practice in relation to important events such as birth and death, agricultural cycle, and the sacred and profane. While the third CTB, “Pagtaguyod” (Promote), contains tourist destinations, protected areas, critical infrastructures, and natural resources in Ancestral Domains.
The NCIP, in fact, partnered with the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) of the Department of Tourism (DOT) for the publication of Project Epanaw which had already been distributed widely all over the Philippines particularly to all NCIP employees, all Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representatives (IPMRs), National Government Agencies (NGAs), and Indigenous Political Structure (IPS) leaders, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Officials of Local Government Units (LGUs), educational institutions, and other stakeholders in the country.
Consul General Ferrer along with Consul Vanessa Bago-Llona shared the information that San Francisco Bay Area is highly populated of Filipino Americans whose active participation is apparent during events that showcase the respective cultures and traditions of the Filipino people especially during the Filipino-American History Month in October to commemorate the arrival of the first known Filipinos, then known as Indios Luzones, in the Americas. During this celebration, Fil-Am community organizations hold different activities to remind and reconnect Filipinos in the state regarding their original heritage in the country from which their roots were originated.
They further stated that: “There is also a trend amongst young Fil-Ams to put into their respective lens the need to patronize and advocate in the market the commerce of products that are made in the Philippines especially those that have been produced by ICCs/IPs.” This way, they are able to connect to their roots not as part of the Asian community as a whole but most importantly that of their Philippine ancestry and kinship so much so that this may be an avenue where both agencies can work together to provide platform for the Indigenous Peoples artisans to actually showcase and sell their creations.
They also discussed possible requests that may come from Museums and schools within the state to further the advocacy of introducing the Philippine Indigenous Peoples to the world, their beauty and contribution to sustainable peace and development by providing them sets of CTBs that may be displayed in each institution for public consumption. Commissioner Las responded in the affirmative that if there are requests coming from the abovementioned entities, the NCIP will not hesitate to provide copies of the CTBs simply because the TPB has allocated additional budget for the mass reproduction and distribution.
Additional platform was also offered that would address, on top of it all, if NCIP has not yet exhausted all means in traditional media like television, the Philippine Consulate will facilitate the showing of all NCIP Audio-Visual Presentation (AVP) materials in their LED screen at their lobby or other places where they are connected with to further the promotion of the culture and traditions of the Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines.