• Connecting cultures through program for indigenous youth

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    In celebration of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples and the International Youth Day, the Katutubo Exchange Philippines led by its founder and president Dr. Edwin Antonio organized and conducted the third Katutubo Exchange in Metro Manila in August.

    Themed “Katutubong kabataan para sa kalinangan at kalikasan” (Indigenous youth for heritage and the environment), the youth exchange program promoted traditional arts and the indigenous cultures of the country. It did so by inviting indigenous peoples groups to hold performance tours and lectures and at the same time providing the participants learning opportunities with art workshops, museum tours, home stay program, institutional visits and courtesy calls to heads of government agencies.

    “I consider this seven-day program a powerful tool in harnessing the potentials of the indigenous children and youth by giving them opportunities and exposures. It is also a way for them to learn and appreciate each other’s differences in culture, eventually fostering respect and mutual understanding,” Antonio shared.

    This year, 30 indigenous youths with their respective adult leaders from different ethnic groups of the Philippines were chosen to participate in this year’s exchange program. They were Arlee Jilles Tiboldec, Ariel Ricardo, Leanne Hailey Aquiapao, Shania Mae Ventura, Paulo Busoy, Oscar Pil-es and Muller Bato, who are Ibaloy from Benguet; Bryan Sannadan, Joy Marie Purugganan and Erosbon Layugan-Sabedo, who are Tingguian from Abra; George David, Bernido Baclay, Joy Flores, Monica Vigilia and Sammy Paanan, who are Ayta of Zambales; Reychel Mae Lastrella, Denver Jhon Ontoy and Wılson Lastrılla, who are Panay Bukidnon from Iloilo; Kenneth Rudolf Onlos, Ralph Justine Castillon, Jessel Kıtt Dansıgan and Shiela Mae Castillon, who are Mansaka from Davao Del Norte; and Casper Lumbos, Alexander Tim, Aizel Praise Lacna, Renna Grace Ayao and Helen Lumbos, who are B’laan from Sarangani.

    To kick off the program, the participants had a briefing and a lecture about foreign service at the Department of Foreign Affairs and climate change at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

    While in the city, they were fostered by families of Maria Victoria Langit, Florinda Vaflor, Conchita Santos, Ivy Theresa Sanchez, Joydespe Cullano and Shiera Rivera for a two-day home stay.

    Furthermore, the katutubo participants underwent workshops in baybayin writing at the Museum of the Filipino People, ballet at the Ballet Manila, deaf sign language and drawing at the Tehno Arts Camp, yukata wearing at the Japanese embassy, and culinary and hotel management at Saint Peter Velle Technical Training Center while they visited National Museum, Malacañan Museum and the GSIS Museum.

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