Pride in one's identity

By Bobet Dimaukom

The experience to have volunteered with iEmergence during the AI workshop in Paquibato District has greatly affected the way I understand my connecting experience with the Indigenous peoples. Having worked for a local NGO before, we have had different experiences with IP communities and have witnessed their rich culture and traditions that they want to preserve as it has proven to have effectively and efficiently worked within their society.

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Having stayed with the Ata community in Paquibato District brought my whole interest to understand the culture into a deeper sense and a more personal level. Their aspirations to preserve their traditional way of living in all aspects manifests in their desire to have a Panuluanan or a school of living traditions put up in the community. This was really new to me because I felt the sincere sense of pride and ownership of the tribe to pass onto the next generations their practices and their identity in general – which made me realize the value of my own personal identity as a Moro as well. If there’s an ultimate take home from the whole experience, it’s the preservation of the pride and ownership of one’s identity.

Bobet is a project officer working with forumZFD Philippines, a German NGO working for conflict transformation and peacebuilding in the country. He works at the Cotabato City office of the organization. Bobet has volunteered with iEmergence multiple times to help in the documentation of its activities and programs.

Witnessing a community dream

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By Rhea Silvosa

I am always grateful for opportunities to be able to connect with communities and with various groups in the country. It makes me appreciative of who I am and just how truly bountiful and beautiful is my home, and how diverse my family is. Thinking back about it, I’m surprised to realize that I actually liked that I was uncomfortable in a lot of ways because it forced me to look at things as they really are. And always, the truth is not an easy thing to handle. The circumstances we’ve experienced in our three day stay in Sorayan were things I expected because I know they’re happening in many places not just in Sorayan, but the situation still surprised and shocked me. I always find it distressing to see poverty face to face and I want to learn not to look away and pretend that all is alright with the world. Experiences such as this helps me to stay firm to the cause I have ascribed myself into—helping the world become a better place for us to live in.

But one thing beautiful to see is to witness a community dream. It was a wonderful moment to be in. You know that the world is not hopeless after all when you see these people and the steadfast hope they have for the future. They are dreaming and doing something to make sure that the future is a place they could be proud of to leave their children behind. I feel really privilege to be in some way part of the process in making that dream into a reality. Once again I am reminded that no matter how small the work we are doing compared to the horrendous realities of life, of the world. What we do matter still, because it matters to one life. And that is always important to remember.

Rhea is the Annual Training Program Officer of Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute in the Philippines. She volunteers with iEmergence in her spare time to help in facilitation and documentation especially in iE's engagement with the tribal people currently encamped in the UCCP, Haran compound, Davao City, Philippines.

A challenge of keeping tradition, identity and culture

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By Sharon Bulaclac

As a person who teaches History, I always consider it a privilege to spend time with people I consider bearers of our culture. I believe that who we are today is who we were. And having the opportunity of staying with them even only for few days is the closest experience I can get in trying to revisit who we were. The Lumad communities maybe our closest link to our distant past but they too have dreams and aspirations in the present. With my recent trip to the Ata community, I saw a challenge which is also common to
other Lumad communities, a challenge of keeping the tradition, identity and culture while crossing the bridge of time called modernity. They may still have a long way to go but I see a brighter horizon for them, for they have decided to stand and think collectively as one people. May we the bearer of the modern culture be respectful enough to give more space and avenue for the stories of the IPs. May we all learn fully the value of listening and understanding with one another. May we appreciate and learn on how the IPs enjoy the simple beauty of life as we witness and walk with them in materializing their dreams and aspirations.

Sharon is an historian and academician from the Mindanao State University, Philippines who has been supportive of iEmergence's programs and activities. She has undergone the Asset-Based Community Development Training (ABCD) Level II with iEmergence last October 2014 and has since been an active champion of ABCD throughout her work and other passions.

Influence of language and thoughts

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A reflection from our staff, Kharla Acosta

Working alongside communities gradually undresses your thoughts and influences the way you think, speak and even make sense of the world. Learning the language of the people I work with simply gives me a better appreciation of the beauty and uniqueness of their tribe.

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For so long, I have seen and sincerely appreciated how these communities generously give an effort to speak my language. I have come to a point where I have realized how much they have given and adjusted for my sake because they genuinely want to share their stories and their culture. It is a testament to how truly they value you as a person. They will try to speak the language you understand.

To give my fair share, I am taking on the challenge of learning their language. It is my hope that this will not only help me get a better grasp of their way of life but change the way I think and perceive life at a personal level.

Kharla Acosta is the Program Manager at iEmergence, Inc. Philippines. She oversees the programs of iEmergence particularly the Osmosis program. Her work in iE since 2014 has been a significant contribution to the continual development of iEmergence as an organization and as an entity working alongside Indigenous communities.