Aetas. Lumad. Mangyan. Dumagat. Matigsalug.
Have you heard of any of these Indigenous Peoples groups before? What comes to your mind when you hear about them?
You would surely agree that indigenous communities are rich in traditions and culture. When it comes to livelihood, nature is their friend as they are talented in fishing and agriculture.
More than the vibrant-colored garments and tribal patterns, they take pride in their solid sets of beliefs, innate resiliency, and the ability to thrive on their own without having to conform to the standards of modernity.
However, beneath the beauty and wonders of indigenous communities lie countless woes.
The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples estimates that there are 14 million indigenous peoples in the Philippines. Even though they make up only 13% of the country’s total population, they are among the country’s poorest.
Because they mostly reside in the mountains or far-flung areas, they have limited access to healthcare, education, and other basic needs. They are often excluded, discriminated against, and poorly represented. And while there isn’t one face to abuse and exploitation, the United Nations reports that the women and children of indigenous communities are among the most vulnerable.
Alleviating their difficult situation is possible, but with your help!
In your own little ways, you can support and uplift indigenous communities. Here are 3 ways to genuinely care for our indigenous kababayans:
1. Care to be informed
How well do you know your indigenous kababayans?
There are several reasons why people do not care for them. Most of the time, people are reluctant to support indigenous peoples because they are not aware of the latter’s unpleasant conditions.
Who are the indigenous peoples in your community? What help do they need? What happens to them when disasters strike? Is there an organization near you that supports them?
As you educate yourself about their situation, you can help break stigmas surrounding them. More so, your compassion toward them could grow. You might find it easier to lend a hand out of love, not out of guilt or compulsion.
2. Care to invest in indigenous youth
Like any other Filipino, indigenous peoples have the right to quality education. Education doesn’t just help them escape poverty, it also helps them pave a better future for themselves and their families.
Likewise, education could protect them from abusers, or anyone who might try to take advantage of their condition.
However, due to worsening poverty, education becomes a privilege especially to our indigenous kababayans. And now, the current pandemic makes life even harder for their youth.
If you are asking what additional value you can bring to the community, supporting the education of indigenous youth is one of the best gifts you can give. You can make a lasting impact in their lives by partnering with the Operation Blessing Foundation Philippines, CBN Asia’s humanitarian arm.
Operation Blessing’s Back to School program offers scholarship and other assistance to underprivileged yet deserving indigenous students. And your help, no matter how small, is important to make a change.
3. Care to pray for indigenous peoples
The diversity of indigenous peoples is rarely celebrated; their communities are rarely supported. At the same time, they are rarely prayed for.
But your indigenous kababayans need your prayers, now more than ever.
Lifting them up to God is one of the purest expressions of your concern for them. Pray that God would protect them and meet their needs according to His riches. Pray that they, too, would also experience the saving love of Jesus.
Ask for healing and reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. Ask Him to open the hearts of Filipinos and allow them to listen compassionately and without judgment.
Lastly, ask for blessings, guidance, and discernment, that He may equip you to help those who are in need – one indigenous kababayan at a time.
“So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people.” (Galatians 6:10 NASB)
Do you want to know more about the wonders and woes of our indigenous kababayans?
CBN Asia, in partnership with Kalayag Child Care and Youth Community Center Inc., produced the film OLIGASE which aims to shed light on important and long-pressing issues that plague indigenous Filipinos. Watch out for its exclusive online screening this December 12-20, 2020!