IP education starts at home

Indigenous customs and traditions passed on to us by our ancestors were treasured, nurtured and taught to them and our old folks, in turn, painstakingly transmitted to us such practices for us to be able to do the same for the future generations of indigenous peoples (IPs) in our midst. One of the age-old and time-honored ways of teaching the youth about our rich culture and traditions is through the regular interaction of the family members with their children. Everything starts at home.

Several years ago, the government introduced indigenous peoples education to the country’s educational curriculum as part of fulfilling its obligation to provide culturally-sensitive education to IPs.  This was warmly welcomed by the IPs, especially from the different parts of the Cordillera, as there is a section of the Igorot population who are ashamed of their personhood to the extent of denying they are Igorots,  The discrimination faced by Igorots as people with tails, dark skin, etc., ingrained some feeling of inferiority among young Igorots that forced them to deny their identity. There is really a need to teach the younger ones to correct wrong impressions of Igorots.

Parents must try extra effort in educating our children about IPs in general so as not to misguide them and project a negative view of the IPs once they grow about to become learned individuals. While at home, let us inculcate to them that they are considered IPs because their parents are both IPs, or one of them is an IP, among others, thus, whether they like it or not, they are part of the IPs that inhabit the region.

Further, we should also teach our children while they are young the proper way of wearing the Igorot attire. Let us convince them to wear the G-string for males and the tapis for women, especially during special occasions with the family circle, because it is one way of convincing them that they really belong to the tribe where great warriors came from. It is our humble view that parents have their shortcomings in inculcating to their children the importance of internalizing the rich culture and traditions of the IPs because of too much time that is being spent on work and other matters that keep everyone busy. Let us learn to have some value time with our children and educate them about the family tree because we are into tracing our roots, thus, it is important for them to trace their roots for them to understand their relations with other IP members.

IP education will just compliment the efforts of parents in trying to strengthen the knowledge of the youth to the indigenous customs and traditions because of the need to thresh out the issues that have cropped up regarding the reading materials on IP practices. Equipping the youth with the proper knowledge on IPs, their rich culture and traditions will definitely be an advantage for them once they will be enrolled in the subject on IP education because they will be the ones to correct whatever will be the deficiencies in the reading materials. Let our children be able to gracefully dance our dances and effectively perform our rituals because from them, the future generations will be able to earn how to do the same in the coming years.

Let us not discount the fact that a good number of our tribal elders have gone ahead of us and there are many young IPs who have yet to perfect the practice of our rich customs and traditions that is why for the younger generations, let us strive to learn from our remaining elders. Let us not wait for formal education to teach us about our culture but let us learn our culture ourselves. Let formal education complement our current knowledge about IPs.

By Noemi C. Ingson

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