“With each passing day, it cannot be denied that challenges are being encountered. This is a natural occurrence in the life of every individual. One of these challenges that I have experienced was because of my culture. There is no perfect person that does not make any mistakes, and I wish everyone would think that way. I experienced being laughed at because of my clothes (which weren’t new, and often these were given by *damoong), my dialect, and food. It hurts to admit this, but it’s hard to be in our shoes, especially when you know nothing about being educated––in other words, “no read, no write.” We are often mocked, ridiculed, and cheated as a joke when it comes to selling our products just because some of us cannot count. Moreover, we Mangyans are even called illiterate. Despite that, we still survived past those insults. As the years pass, we have become more motivated in attaining education. We have persevered, strived hard, and dreamt big to make our lives better such that we need not be ashamed of ourselves when facing other people. To prove that we Mangyans are not illiterate and to let everyone know that we are not perfect––there are just some things we still have yet to learn. All the discrimination we have faced has served as our inspiration to use education as a means to successfully develop our talents and capabilities. “
*damoong – term referring to people who are non-Mangyan
My dream for our country is for our people to know and understand our own history, and to take pride in ourselves. This includes who our indigenous people are, their struggles, rights, and ingenuity. Too strong has the impact of colonization been on our country, that we look down even on our own brothers and sisters, even until today. We can hear even from our government officials–our leaders, how Filipinos are lazy, selfish, and disobedient. We can hear how they look at our indigenous people either simply as performers, terrorists, or a nuisance. Of course, these are untrue and simply degrading. Indigenous people are people with a very rich history, language, and knowledge. We can learn so much from them if we firstly acknowledge their rights to land, life, and self-determination. Without acknowledging these rights, genocide and ethnocide would take place at a much faster rate.
Maureen B. Loste
Growing up in the mountains identifies my being. Our community is self-sustaining where terraced paddies nurture rice biannually, bio-diverse crops are planted in kaingins, the aquatic resources of the Chico river and its tributaries are distinct to the place such as edible fish, crustaceans, eels, monitor lizards and edible ferns. The flora and fauna from the mountaintops to the river level are so diverse. The resources underneath the earth and the forests are communally owned and defended from generation to generation. The place I grew up used to be the capital town of the Old Montanosa or Mountain Province, Bontoc where the Bontok people ascribe their name. It also hosts migrants from the adjacent lowland provinces, the Ilocos, Isabela and Cagayan. Thus my name is both Igorot and Ilocano, Maureen Kayan Belen. Even the people from the Visayas are attracted to live in the highlands, one from whom I affix the surname Loste.
Jaelyn Jarrett (CRE)
A picture of myself (right) and my sister Jordyn (left) after a spring trip to our Cabin in Nain, Nunatsiavut.
My name is Jaelyn and I am Inuk. In Canada, Inuit make up the Northern parts of ‘Canada’ which we refer to as Inuit Nunangat. The term Inuit Nunangat refers to the land, water and ice. This encompasses 4 different regions: Nunatsiavut (Northern Labrador), Nunavik (Northern Quebec), the province of Nunavut and Inuvialuit (North West Territories). We are one of three Indigenous groups in Canada (alongside First Nations and Métis). Often, we get lost in the pan-indigeneity that exists within Canada. So, it’s important that I distinguish that while we are Indigenous, we are Inuk –a distinct people with a unique culture and language. Even within our four regions, there is diversity, so it is always best to be as specific as possible when interacting with Inuit. Inuk is singular, and Inuit is plural. In Canada, we prefer these terms over ‘eskimo’ which to many of us is a derogatory term.
Alyssa Luttenberger (CRE)
As Indigenous people, we often talk about our relationship to the land. We look to the earth as our mother, we understand the stories and identities of the animals and we see our history reflected back to us in the land. We discuss how that relationship is our first relationship and our first responsibility. And that is true– without respect and responsibility to the land, our existence would be jeopardized. We would have no food, no water and no shelter. And it would not only be humans who suffered, but all other forms of life as well. We hold this sacred responsibility to the land close because we came from the earth– but it is critical that we never forget that we also have a responsibility to our communities.