Punla: Indigenous Children of the Land / TFIP & SIKLAB

The photographs in this exhibit were gathered by the Philippine Task Force for Indigenous Peoples’ Rights (TFIP) and the SIKLAB Philippine Indigenous Youth Network from our partner organizations, photographers and journalists who have an interest in taking pictures of indigenous peoples in their daily lives and struggles.

Featured are award-winning and widely-traveled photographers: Dave Leprozo Jr., who has held several exhibitions on Cordillera indigenous peoples’ culture and knowledge in various fields; and Jacob Maentz, who traveled around the country documenting the lives of the indigenous Mangyan, Palaw-an, Cordillerans and Lumad in Mindanao among other indigenous peoples as part of his Katutubong Filipino Project. Environmental activist and indigenous peoples rights advocate Loi Manalansan and photo-journalists Vincent Go (UCA News), Raymund Villanueva (Kodao) and Ace Morandante (Davao Today) contributed their works that have served to make indigenous peoples’ concerns visible in different mainstream and alternative media outlets. Efren Ricalde, a freelance photographer, also shared his images that portrayed indigenous youth’s participation in the Manilakbayan 2015.  Our partner non-government organizations the UCCP-Integrated Development Program for Indigenous Peoples in Southern Tagalog (IDPIP-ST), Silingang Dapit sa Habagatang Sidlakang Mindanao, Inc. (SILDAP-SE) and the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Development (ALCADEV) provided photographs of their learning institutions and young indigenous peoples who benefit from their services.

This exhibit revolves and focuses upon the lives of the indigenous youth and children in contemporary times. One can see images from the mundane things that young people do such as playing, helping their parents in agricultural work, making crafts and other daily activities. Some of these photographs show children and youth while in school either located in their communities or far away where they have to walk or use different types of transportation just to get to school. We also feature children and youth who were displaced from their communities and suffer disruption of their simple lives and schooling. This can be seen in pictures of evacuation areas where the lives of young people are the primary consideration why families and communities are forced to seek refuge as their communities are attacked by the military and paramilitary groups because of their staunch opposition against destructive projects (e.g. mining) and their alleged support for the New People’s Army (NPA).

With this exhibit, TFIP and SIKLAB, aim to show the real situation of indigenous youth. While their communities and environment are conducive for them to enjoy their youth, their caprices, and their learning of life and culture as indigenous peoples, they are deprived of basic needs and rights that must be accorded to them by the state and Filipino society as a whole. Indigenous children and youth  bear the brunt of the historical neglect in the provision of social services, especially education and health.

Non-government organizations, church institutions, many of whom are our partner organizations try their best to provide these services in indigenous communities. However, these are misinterpreted and put in a bad light by state security forces deployed in indigenous communities. They usually consider the schools set up and run by non-government organizations and even church organizations as training grounds of the New People’s Army. But in truth, these schools offer not only basic literacy and numeracy as taught in schools run and recognized by the government, but offer additional subjects appropriate to the lives and needs of indigenous peoples such as indigenous knowledge, culture, sustainable agriculture, and other subjects and lessons determined by communities. We can see images of schools attacked and vilified because of these reasons.

This exhibit is one of our activities in celebration of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples which is observed annually on August 9, worldwide.

The ribbon cutting for the opening of the exhibit will be after the Media Forum on Indigenous Youth on August 9, 2016 at 10:00 AM at the Atelyer, Bulwagan ng Dangal, University Main Library in UP Diliman Campus.

The exhibit will run from August 9 to 31, 2016 as part of the commemoration of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous Peoples Month.

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