Real Identity of the Indigenous

Philippines is a country that is laying in the Southeast Asia. It is an archipelago that consists of approximately seven thousand one hundred seven islands. It has a lot of different cultures coming from the different parts of the world that had developed through out its existing years in the earth.

There are a lot of conspiracies and opinions about what really are the native people doing back then before the Spaniards arrived. As Dr. Danilo M. Gerona discussed at the Mainstream Indigenous Knowledge in the Tertiary Education, he studied the history about Ferdinand Magellan for about 10 years. He knew very well what happened in those times.

As I read the short part of the transcript that was provided to us, I started to ask some questions to myself about our history; “Who were really here back then before the Spanish colonization”, “Are we really light color skin or dark color skin?”, “Are the immigrants considered a native people of the Philippines” etc. Those are the questions that comes to my mind. There were a lot of gaps that we missed during our history class back when we were in high school and in elementary so I was shocked when these transcripts, articles and diaries appeared in our college class because I taught that it was only those perspectives is what we are going to see. The short part of the transcript did not really provide that much information to us about Dr. Danilo M. Gerona’s discussion about the indigenous people back then. But as a searched in the internet, I can understand what he really wants to prove. According to Jezel Mae Competente, He stated that postmodernists gives a meaning about the Indigenous People, which is they are the “others” or the “kakaiba” meaning they are an outsider of our society and they differ when it comes to our own culture but he also stated that we don’t have a clear understanding of the word Indigenous if we regard it in that way. In a more sophisticated way of giving a meaning about the Indigenous People, they are those Filipino who chose to be an outsider because of their own resistance from colonizers. According to his professor, the skulls that the Archeologist found in Tabon cave, Palawan are not a remains of Agta but rather the Tabon Man so probably the first people who came here and the first inhabitant in the Philippines are the Japanese or the Tasmanians of Australia and it shows that the Agtas are not the first natives of the Philippines in fact they are immigrants not indigenous. The Agta and the Cimarrones of Mount Isarog are clearly migrants from a different place because the Philippines doesn’t exist ever since it only existed because of movement of tectonic plates and that is the time when people started to come over. He also discussed about the Agta in Mount Isarog, for a long period of time there was no integration or interaction between the upland and the lowland. The Remontados, another kind of people described as fair-skinned color. They are the lowlanders who were converted to Christianity but they left the lowland to join the Agtas because of the Spaniards. The Spaniards did not only colonized us, controlled us but they also defined us. They created a division between the lowland people, the fair- complexion people and the Agta of Mount Isarog. At the end of the discussion, he gives an emphasis about how Indigenous are the Filipino Indigenous Peoples? In a more sophisticated perspective, Filipino Indigenous People are the product of their own resistance from colonizers, they chose to be an outsider.

“How indigenous are Filipino indigenous people?” and “Are the indigenous people of the Philippines really indigenous?” are the questions that Dr. Danilo M. Gerona left us hanging. But what does indigenous means? According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, indigenous is produced, growing, living, or occurring natively or naturally in a particular area. It is also relating to the earliest known inhabitants of a place and especially of a place that was colonized by a now-dominant group. According to The World Bank, Indigenous Peoples are distinct social and cultural groups that share collective ancestral ties to the lands and natural resources where they live, occupy or from which they have been displaced. The land and natural resources on which they depend are inextricably linked to their identities, cultures, livelihoods, as well as their physical and spiritual well-being. They often subscribe to their customary leaders and organizations for representation that are distinct or separate from those of the mainstream society or culture. Many Indigenous peoples still maintain a language distinct from the official language or languages of the country or region in which they reside. So, I do believe that even though the first inhabitants are not Agtas, it is also considered indigenous people. They have their own style of living, language, the way of dressing and has own traditions. They refused to be colonized by the Spaniards in the early 1500’s and their culture is still flowing to its leaves. We could not really define how indigenous a group of people are because they have their own traditions and practices but if they have their of culture, language, etc, then they are considered an indigenous.

I firmly believe that the pre-colonial people in the Philippines are Philippines’ indigenous people. We should protect them because they are our living culture that makes us unique from the rest of the globalized countries. They are necessary in the society because it reminds us that we have a beautifully unique group that reminisce the historic times. We should give them peace and support in order for them to go on in their own beautiful life.