In celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Month, selected young delegates from different indigenous groups in the Philippines engaged in cultural exchanges and immersion participated in an annual program called Katutubo Exchange (KX).
Founded by Edwin Antonio, the endeavor is spearheaded by Katutubo Exchange Philippines, a volunteer organization of youth and cultural workers who advocate for the promotion of indigenous culture, traditional arts and cross-cultural understanding consisting of adults, teens and kids.
On its fifth year, the program was held for the first time in the Visayas, specifically in the province of Iloilo, from October 7 to 10, carrying the theme, “Katutubong kabataan tulay sa pagtaguyod ng katutubong edukasyon.”
According to Antonio, “the exchange program serves as an important instrument in the campaign for the promotion of indigenous cultures. People in the mainstream learn more about and appreciate more our Filipino heritage with face-to-face interaction with the katutubo delegates.”
He added that it’s not only a showcase but teaching the culture through workshops in the outreach programs conducted in the local schools as well as in the different communities.
Twenty-four participants were involved this year: Princes Ricah Mea Idao and Daevin Tulod of the Itneg community from Abra; Daphnie Kay Raquedan, Christian Licuan and Marissa Alaban of the Isnag community from Apayao; Craine Franchez Humiding, Herald Mike Sanchez and Dareen Grace Bogbog of the Ifugao community from the province of Ifugao; Anastacia Viola of the Ivatan group from Batanes; Suzette Ogean of the Ilonggot community from Aurora; Jackielene Balangitan of the Ibaloy community from Benguet; Jelmar Castro and Edwin Antonio of the Ilocano community of Ilocos Norte.
Paul Kleinton Dusaran, Yvonne Abido, Christian Paul Tiu, John Franco Madrid and Shane Marie Propetiado of the Hiligaynon group from Iloilo; Jonalyn Dalagma and Julieto Dalagma of the Matigsalug group from Davao; Mary Joy Biton and Arlex Narte of the T’boli community of Sarangani; and Marhll Felicilda and Inna Maristela Garcia of the Bagobo group from Davao.
An outreach program was conducted as there were also cultural presentations followed by a cultural sharing and workshop on wearing indigenous attires for the local elders, indigenous dances for the youth and indigenous games for the young kids of the community.
Other activities included visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site, Miagao Church, and witnessed traditional hand-weaving or hablon.