Second and third speakers, Ray Justin Ventura, Chief Health Program Officer of the Bureau of Local Health Systems and Development, and Dr. Penelope Domogo, Provincial Health Officer of the Mountain Province, further explore government initiatives through a local lens.
Dr. Domogo of the indigenous Applai community in the Mountain Province further adds that the earlier education and programs the government provides for them are often not aligned with what IPs learn within their respective groups. This contributes to the toxic mindset IPs may sometimes suffer through how outsiders view them—that they are uncivilized and their customs are not worth keeping because they need to “keep up with the times.” She instead advocates that IP systems be integrated with mainstream health practices, calling for a rediscovery of traditional values, knowledge, systems and practice to recover better well-being for all. Final speaker, Loreta Sta. Teresa, Director of the Ateneo de Zamboanga University’s Center for Community Extension Services, further elaborated on concrete steps on integrating governmental policies and health standards with that of IP customs.
Ms. Sta. Teresa revealed that there are many ways where we can help enhance the well-being of IPs. She explained that well-being should not be a priority just for the community, but is ideally monitored in the familial level. She encouraged families to play an active role in monitoring the health of their members and that assisting in the documentation of family health history is a something that must be addressed by government officials. It was also suggested that officials or other well-meaning groups must approach their health assistance through a culture-sensitive manner by interacting with authorities and members of the indigenous groups. While there is a lot to be done, it will be beneficial not just to IPs but to the rest of the country when key players act accordingly.
Maria Teresa Guia-Padilla (2nd photo), Executive Director of Anthrowatch which has engaged in research on
indigenous peoples health
After a final prayer and community dance succeeded the response and the event finally came to a close.
Special thanks to Cartwheel Volunteers, CC Yulo-Loyzaga for the writing of this article and Jerlie Sianda for the photo documentation of the event.
This article also appears on Cartwheel Foundation - Philippines' website