Reclaiming Traditions in the Philippines

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“Our future begins here.”

This is how Datu (Chief) Gilbert Sagoksok of the Ata tribe describes the gathering in the village of Sorayan, Philippines last March. where iEmergence facilitated a workshop with community leaders to share stories of hope for Panuluanan - a place where they can teach their cultural practices and values.

For years, we have seen Datu encourage the younger generation in his tribe to learn and relearn their tribal ways. For him, the tribe is like a tree. "Our tribe is a tree that you must take care of. Our ancestors are the roots, our past and our source. We, as present leaders, are the trunk that will hold the tree upright. Through us, culture is passed on to the good fruits which are the youth, the future leaders of this tribe."

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Datu revealed that he fears the youth will forsake their past. "I am afraid of the day when the children will not know what our ancestors named our rivers, our mountains, and the trees in our land." As a leader, he has taken the role of culture bearer and mentor. He has seen the difficulties the tribal youth in their village face. Many do not know their cultural practices and values, and some have lost interest in speaking their language for fear of discrimination from non-Indigenous migrants.

He sees Panuluanan as a ray of hope. “I believe that this will help the youth stand firm in their identity as a tribal person amidst the changing of the times.” He recognises that collaboration and partnership is important in creating such a space. “But, we cannot do it alone. Through our collective effort and our relationship with iEmergence, we can build this space of learning and provide a better future for our tribe.”

We cannot wait to greet our future! We cannot wait to see Panuluanan become what we envision it to be!

For more on what Panuluanan is for the Ata tribe, check out this page.