The door at DepEd
On exhibit since two days ago (till Aug. 23) in the lobby of the Department of Education (DepEd) main office in Pasig City is a piece of a door with 13 bullet holes. This was the door in the house of Kalinga chief Macli-ing Dulag in Bugnay village in Kalinga. Macli-ing was killed by Marcos forces on April 24, 1980.
This Kalinga brave led the opposition to the construction of the Chico Dam that would have wiped out large portions of Kalinga ancestral domain in the Cordillera. April 24 is now celebrated as Cordillera People’s Day. Macli-ing fought the Marcos dictatorship and is hailed as a hero, so his name is among the hundreds inscribed on the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Wall of Remembrance in Quezon City.
Last Tuesday, Aug. 9, was World’s Indigenous People’s (IP) Day. Hereabouts, Aug. 9 is also National Indigenous People’s Day as provided in Republic Act No. 10689.
The DepEd observed the day not only by opening the mini-exhibit but also by issuing a memorandum dated July 21 and signed by Secretary Leonor Briones “enjoin[ing] all its offices and schools to observe the said national celebration, declared as a special working holiday, through various commemorative and advocacy activities.”
The memo further stated: “As the primary government agency mandated to protect and promote the right of every Filipino learner to basic education, including the inculcation of values that promote recognition of the nation’s cultural diversity, it is imperative for DepEd to actively contribute to the nation’s meaningful observance of the National Indigenous People’s Day.”
This is consistent with the aims of the K-to-12 Basic Education Program and—note this—the DepEd’s National Indigenous Peoples Education (IPEd) Policy Framework which stipulates that “within the framework of maintaining inclusive and effective learning environments, the DepEd shall nurture, among all learners and DepEd teaching and nonteaching personnel, respect for human rights and cultural diversity,” and that the DepEd shall “promote greater awareness and appreciation of the [IP’s] cultural heritage and history—and integral yet often neglected part of the nation’s cultural heritage and history.”
It is heartening indeed that awareness and appreciation of our IP heritage is now being pushed in early education so that ignorance and biases against IPs would be no more, and so that they would stand proud of who they are and of their roots. And stand proudly distinct, too.
Exhibiting Macli-ing’s door and important IP information at the DepEd lobby is a great move. Behind this activity is the DepEd’s Indigenous Peoples Education Office (IPsEO) coordinated by Rozanno E. Rufino. Yes, the DepEd has an IP Education Office!
I learned through the grapevine that the Aquino administration had approved the construction of hundreds of school buildings (with teachers, of course) in far-flung IP areas—not with a DepEd budget but with another agency’s budget. Here’s hoping that this does not get snared in an ideologically-tainted tug-of-war, if you know what I mean. Here’s hoping that Briones can stand her ground. Sadly, some IP areas are taken over by contesting groups with clashing aims—armed, ideological, religious, corporate groups—and turning these areas into hotbeds.
I was pleased to learn that included in the DepEd exhibit are excerpts from my book “Macli-ing Dulag: Kalinga Chief, Defender of the Cordillera” (University of the Philippines Press, 2015), along with the door. I saw and touched that bullet-riddled door when I went up to Bugnay in 1980 with a fact-finding team shortly after Macli-ing was killed. I laid my eyes on the door again last year, when it was exhibited with other Kalinga artifacts, at the book’s launch in UP Baguio.
Anthropology professor Analyn Salvador, an avid researcher of Cordillera culture, had asked for the door when she saw that parts of Macli-ing’s old home were being demolished for renovation. Salvador had lived among the Butbut (Macli-ing’s community) and made Bugnay village her field base for research. The door is now part of UP Baguio’s Cordillera People’s Archives and Museum. IPsEO’s Rufino asked UP Baguio if he could borrow the door for the DepEd exhibit.
There are now learning materials for greater IP awareness. I know that a group of Aeta and a group of Mangyan had written children’s books highlighting their culture. If I remember right, these were published by Assisi Foundation. I remember I wrote about these books for the Inquirer’s front page. It is so good to know that there are many efforts in this area. Even fashion designers are doing their part by coming up with wearables that are highly marketable.
The IPEd program supports education initiatives undertaken through formal, nonformal and informal modalities with emphasis on, but not limited to, these key areas: indigenous knowledge systems and practices and community history; indigenous languages; indigenous learning systems (ILS) and community life cycle-based curriculum and assessment; and education goals, aspirations and competences specific to the indigenous cultural community. It encourages elders and other community members in the teaching-learning process, assessment and management of the initiative, while recognizing and continuing the practice of the community’s ILS. All these were crafted in consultation with representatives of IP communities.
I suggest we all learn to write our names using our indigenous baybayin/alibata (the Mangyan have their own syllabary). Who said precolonial Filipinos did not know how to read and write before the Spaniards came? Under my byline in my latest books, I have my name also written in baybayin. Here it is:
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