IMG_0985 IMG_098910389597_10204656329468939_4374711253958434441_n 10658795_10204656772160006_695621100138765311_o The Ateneo de Davao University’s (ADDU) Indigenous Peoples Education Project in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato (SoCot) officially kicked off with the signing of the community-solicited Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) for the conduct of an ethnographic research, the T’boli Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSP). This research is essential because this forms the foundation in developing a culturally responsive T’boli Senior High School curriculum.

The signing of the FPIC took place on 13th September 2014 at El Galong Resort in Lake Sebu, during the second community consultation facilitated by the representatives of the National Commission on the Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). It was a well-attended assembly with representations coming from 18 (out of 19) barangays in the Municipality of Lake Sebu. Among those who graced the occasion were the Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative (IPMR) from each barangay, representatives from the youth, women and education sectors, the Municipal Tribal Council (MTC) headed by Datu Benito Blonto, and the ADDU indigenous peoples (IP) education team composed of Ms. Donnabelle Celebrado and Ms. Marlouzel Mabunga of the Anthropology Department, Ms. Eufemia A. Faller of the School of Education (SoE), and Mr. Romulo Vinci Bueza with Mr. Bernie Jereza, of the Office of the President.

Although the main purpose of the consultation was the signing of the FPIC for the ethnographic research, much of the discussion was centered on the creation of a T’boli senior high school. It may well be remembered that ADDU through its president, Fr. Joel E. Tabora, SJ and the Department of Education (DepEd) through its secretary, Bro. Admin Luistro, collaborated together to address the IPs’ assertion for an inclusive education in the light of the K-12 educational reform—hence, the idea of developing a culturally responsive T’boli senior high school, which is to become a pilot program on IP education.

University-level discussions began as early as September of 2013 with the identification of three key offices that will primarily be involved in the project’s development and implementation namely, the Office of the President, the Department of Anthropology, and the SoE. In between then and now, the university prioritized the establishment of networks with the local government units (LGUs) of SoCot, the DepEd and the T’boli community through its tribal council, while internally laying the groundwork for academic-related preparations.

This ethnographic research is but the beginning of a five-year partnership with the T’boli Community, the DepEd and the ADDU. A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the DepEd and ADDU is set to be signed this October 2014. (By Eufemia A. Faller, of Arrupe’s Service Learning Program & School of Education)