BAGUIO CITY – A group advocating for the empowerment of indigenous people (IPs) in the different parts of the country expressed its disappointment over the prevalence of discrimination against the IPs by their fellow Filipinos.
Dr. Edwin Antonio, president and founder of the Katutubo Exchange Philippines, in an interview aired over the One for the Road afternoon program of RPN-DZBS 1368 kHz Baguio said that there were several instances where IP youth participating in their annual cultural exchange and immersion programs were discriminated by professionals who were supposed to understand the presence of IPs in the different parts of the country.
The cultural exchange and immersion programs of the non-government organization is the local version of the Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program where IP youth from different parts of the country have a chance to interact with their counterparts in IP communities participating in such programs.
“We are disappointed by the fact that even professionals who are supposed to be in the know are the ones that discriminate our indigenous peoples which is not supposed to be the case in the first place. Being professionals, they should have be aware of how the IPs live, and that they should be the first ones to understand the way they dress when going around their places,” Antonio stressed.
In Vigan City, Ilocos Sur, the IP advocate claimed that a Mangyan youth who was in his traditional G-string was prevented from walking along Kalye Crisologo, the city’ main historical road, because individuals who wear such attire are prohibited in roaming around the city.
However, he admitted having learned about the situation in the later part of the day that did not give him a chance to confront the said police officer but when he revealed the said incident to the members of the local media, it was the media that apologized in behalf of the police officer.
In Iloilo City, Antonio disclosed that an IP youth from Ifugao was not allowed by a security guard of a mall to enter the establishment because he was wearing his G-string which is reportedly prohibited by the mall management.
He pointed out that the trauma caused by the discrimination experienced by the two IP youth participants to the group’s cultural exchange and immersion program was obviously terrible that it took sometime for them to recover from the embarrassment they experienced which should not have happened in the first place if people were aware of the culture and traditions of the different IPs in the country.
According to him, the group again brought the matter to the attention of the mall management through a series of communication letters that resulted in the suspension of the security guard who discriminated the Ifugao youth.
Antonio asserted there is still a long way to go in the information and education campaign that should be done to really make people understand the distinct culture and traditions of the IPs who deserve the utmost respect and the similar treatment from fellow Filipinos who claim to be educated and understand the prevailing issues in the country.