Our Brother's Keeper

By: Mitch Irag

As humans it is imperative that we give back a portion of what we have to the community. Then I learned that though many were living abundant lives, a few of those were just not that keen to the plights of those who don't have much. That we live in a ruthless society whose judgments of color and race divided us for generations.

I also learned that the struggle to keep people as one is a rather difficult road to take, but while we continue to traverse despite the bumpy roads, there were those who never failed to lift each other.

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This is manifested on the recently concluded "KADAYAWAN 2016" where several IP from the Ata tribe gathered at the Tribo Mindanawan grounds to showcase their way of life. It is interesting to note that in this modern day and age they remained rooted to their heritage and continued to live simple lives up in the mountains, away from the chaotic routines of urban dwellings.

I've seen the apprehensions in their eyes especially the kids and although they look scared, I've also seen the undeniable curiosity beaming each time they're asked to describe their city experience. I don't get to see this kind of life everyday so I was overwhelm at the thought of meeting these kind and peace-loving people who thrive on their day to day activities. That though they have nothing and had to often fight for their birth rights, they are still the same classic Filipinos we meet in the streets every day. Smiling. Accommodating.

Not minding the daily pains of an empty stomach and bare feet to welcome strangers with wide arms. That amidst the frantic throng of people going and leaving their solemn space, they are still the same delicate group who wishes nothing but goodwill to everyone even to those who don’t speak and dress like them.

Hence I am thankful for this opportunity to give myself a chance to find balance in a life lived within the confines of the corporate walls and personal struggles. I am grateful that there were more concerned and idealistic individuals and organizations than I do, who were brave enough to fight with minimal means because of the children and the belief that they stood for.

Someone said in one of the cultural orientations with iEmergence that we have two obligations whilst we live. That of ourselves and our fellow being. That we must do our share in whatever small ways we have and we can, to at least foster a genuine sense of brotherhood with our own.

Mitch has been working at an outsourcing company based in Davao City for quite a while now. In her spare time, she often volunteers at iEmergence to help with fundraising and advocacy. Mitch's enthusiasm in engaging the Indigenous people is evident in the various activities she has helped organized. In social media, she is one of the first few who will readily say yes to our call for support and would immediately share the good news to her networks.

Kadayawan: Celebrating cultural diversity and understanding its importance

By: Cha Florece

I have lived in Davao City for 30 years and I’ve only recently participated in the yearly celebration of Kadayawan. Many celebrate the week-long festivities by partying, watching social/cultural events and even join the parade. But only a few understand the core values of this grand festival, which is to recognize the first occupants of this land, the LUMAD.

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In this year’s celebration, with the help of friends from iEmergence, I got the chance to share stories with our Lumad brothers and sisters. I was glad to know that they were happy to visit the city, see some places that are new to them, and meet new faces who they will remember for the rest of their lives. I was happy when they told me they appreciate and liked the modernity of the city which makes the people’s lives easier and comfortable. Our transportation, establishments, huge schools, tall buildings, gadgets, and other communication devices. Some of them said they will visit the city again.

Then, it was their turn to ask me if I have been to their place. I said yes, and it was also my first time to visit Paquibato District. Although I have travelled to far flung places several times before, it was my first to go with the vision of a successful project in mind, and the excitement to finally meet the Lumad in the community. I told them I was not discouraged by how difficult the transportation was, how dusty and challenging the ride was. I told them that I fully enjoyed the ride seeing how refreshing it was to see lush bushes, green mountains and how simple the people are. I was happy to see kids walk going to school, making me feel nostalgic where I had to walk due to unavailability of the transportation, yet making me more and more motivated to go learn the lessons prepared everyday. Minutes passed by and we were all delighted to hear different stories.

I came to realize that they are more people of the world than me. Even at the young age of 10, or 15, they understand how important our land is. The need to preserve the trees, animals and food this land produces. They are more sensitive in preserving our culture and tradition, that this is the way we are being recognized for being a Davaoeño. I was taken aback when one of the kids said they wished for the mainland people to be more concerned in conserving the environment, so that the people can enjoy the wonders of the hand above.

Cha works at a Philippine-based firm that delivers a broad scope of marketing, analysis, and other business services to leading companies called Demand Science. She, along with Demand Science, has been a partner of iEmergence in building positive pathways for Indigenous people in Mindanao for over a year now. Cha actively promotes and supports the work we do at iE because she believes that Indigenous people should have the space to freely express and learn their ways of living.