Bohol First District Representative Rene L. Relampagos is pushing for the establishment of an Indigenous Training and Learning Center in the province of Bohol, hoping to preserve the culture and language of its Indigenous Peoples (IPs) specifically the “Eskayas” and providing them livelihood opportunities through education, seminars and literacy programs.
“The “Visayan-Eskayas” are only found in Bohol. They have a unique cultural heritage with distinct language, literature and traditional practices that date way back to pre-Spanish times. It is but important to preserve and protect their unique cultural knowledge and tradition,” Relampagos said.
A considerable percentage of the population of Bohol comprises various IPs. The towns of Duero, Guindulman, Pilar and Sierra Bullones are homes to cultural minorities such as the Eskayas.
“Unfortunately, many of these minorities are unable to gain access to sufficient training and education and are therefore unable to competitively seek means of employment and/or other forms of livelihood. Hence, they remain among the most vulnerable sectors of society. Moreover, as much as we try to preserve the culture and language of the Eskayas, we see them fading away with the onset of technological advancement and new trends,” the lawmaker stressed.
The bill seeks to pull together the resources and respective expertise of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines (NCIP) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) as well as the local government units in Bohol and come up with an avenue for education for the IPs, specifically a training center where they can hone their technical knowledge and skills to help them take advantage of our livelihood opportunities.
“Education is essential to preserving the unique identities of IPs, as well as for the full development of their potential as individuals and as communities. This is why the United Nations has chosen ’Indigenous Peoples’ Right to Education’ as the theme for the 2016 International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. The UN Declaration recognizes the right of indigenous peoples to be educated in their own languages and cultures and calls on states to guarantee this right,” he pointed out.
He added, “However, there are many barriers to fulfillment, including a low prioritization of education for IPs in allocating public resources, language barriers and discriminatory and racist attitudes in education systems that are often reflected in textbooks and materials. All of this combines to limit indigenous peoples’ opportunities, develop and meet their full potential as human beings and as citizens.”
Under said measure, the NCIP shall ensure that the Eskayas’ unique identity will be further strengthened and preserved by displaying and showcasing their skills, artistry, crafts and archaeological objects (eg. clothing, writings, literary works, among others) through exhibition at the Bohol National Museum or a replica showing their way of living. It shall also ensure that the Eskayas are fully recognized by the provincial government and are well represented during special events and other relevant celebrations in the province.