By Maria Elena Regpala, advocacy officer with the organization Partners for Indigenous Knowledge Philippines (PIKP), reflected on her organization’s approach to advocacy.
Partners for Indigenous Knowledge Philippines is a network of organizations and individuals from across the Philippines and particularly in the Cordillera region, made up of indigenous knowledge holders, researchers, writers, and artists. PIKP’s mission is to document and transfer indigenous knowledge and practices, so we rely extensively on research and awareness raising for our advocacy work, using a participatory action research approach. Our work -including our priorities and approaches- is driven by indigenous people concerns, and most of us are indigenous people who belong to communities. Our primary concern is for indigenous knowledge to be valued and transferred to future generations.
We have captured knowledge through stories, photo documentation published books, and music videos which are shared with the Philippines’ Department of Education -in particular, its Indigenous Education Program, as reference materials- and with the general public. For instance, we published a cookbook of indigenous recipes entitled Heirloom Recipes of The Cordillera. We also rely on short videos to showcase songs. We also organized an Indigenous Knowledge Learning Festival which showcased particular themes and included exhibitions on crafts, drawings, literature, dances, playing of musical instruments, and targeted to educators and the general public.
We have engaged with government, educators, media and the public in order to enhance their awareness of the value of indigenous knowledge and belief systems, and how indigenous knowledge has contributed to different aspects of people’ life – which differ from predominant Western belief systems. For example, we have our own medicinal plants which are commonly used by our indigenous people and are effective, but they are not well known as most of the people are accustomed to Western health systems.
We work with community radio stations and journalists and invite them to become aware of the culture of our people so they are informed on indigenous people’s issues. We are currently cooperating with two universities: in one case, we participated in a workshop with the Benguet State University to address ethical considerations in research on indigenous people, so respect for the dignity of research participants is prioritized. We also invite them to webinars that we organize on indigenous knowledge. We have also partnered with the University of the Philippines- Cordillera Studies Center for the Indigenous Knowledge Learning Festival.