Rep. Catamco seeks inclusion of subjects on IP cultures in school curricula

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/17 August) – Cotabato 2nd District Rep. Nancy Catamco is set to propose the integration in elementary and high school curricula the study of cultures and traditions of the indigenous peoples.

Photo courtesy of www.nancycatamco.comCatamco, who belongs to the Manobo tribe in the province, said the indigenous peoples are given “less” recognition in the current educational system.

“The textbooks or the reference materials used in teaching Social Sciences, Filipino, or other subjects, for example, have little information about the lumads, especially those in Mindanao,” she said in a press briefing here.

The lawmaker cited that Mindanao is home to at least 18 ethno-linguistic groups, namely the T’boli, B’laan, Ata, Bagobo, Banwaon, Bukidnon, Dibabawon, Higaunon, Kalagan, Mamanwa, Mandaya, Mangguwangan, Manobo, Mansaka, Subanen, Tagakaolo, Teduray, and the Ubo.

Catamco said that people would usually ask her about the Manobo tribe after whenever she would introduce herself as belonging to such tribe.

“People were surprised to hear the word Manobo and would ask me, “What was that?”

She said it’s unfortunate that the lumads are being sidelined despite the fact that Filipinos descended from them.

Catamco, co-chair of the House Committee on Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, has also proposed the creation of a tribal town in North Cotabato, which would comprise lumad-dominated villages in Kidapawan City and the towns of Makilala, and Magpet.

She said the process would be easier if President Aquino himself would declare these villages as tribal towns.

She also proposed additional budget for the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP).

“Records show that the budget for the NCIP in a year is less than a billion pesos, much lower than the travel expenses allotted for the Office of the President,” she said.

The Department of Education has actually started holding consultations with IP leaders on the content as well as the methods of teaching subjects on indigenous cultures.

In Malaybalay City, the Bukidnon State University has been teaching Binukid (the language of most tribes in the province) as part of social science subjects since 2008.

Central Mindanao University, another state-run institution in Maramag town, also in Bukidnon, started offering this semester the course Master of Arts in Cultural Studies. But students can only enroll in the course after finishing a training in culture-sensitivity. (Malu Cadelina Manar with reports from H. Marcos C. Mordeno)