IP forum for cultural dialogue held in Isabela City

Mindanao-based Indigenous People (IP) community organization Community Kaluarga Association of Moro IPs (KAMI) recently held a forum on IP’s dispute resolution on April 8-9, 2018 in Binuangan, Isabela City.

The forum was attended by 20 participants from the Yakan, Sama, and Bajau tribes.

The two-day forum was funded by the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA). Invited speakers discussed cultural dialogue, local history, cultural diversity and coexistence, among others.

KAMI president Salem Mohammad said the forum provided a venue for cultural dialogue and exchanges among the Lumad, Yakan Moro, and the lowland settlers of Basilan to promote understanding and appreciation of the diverse Basilan culture towards sustainable and inclusive peace and development.

Mar Salahuddin, KAMI project coordinator, said the project was conceptualized by the Committee on Traditional Arts of the NCCA to identify common disputes in conflict areas like Basilan and address them.

Salahuddin said the activity is participated by those who usually handle disputes and conflicts in their respective communities. During the workshops, the participants shared their experiences on how they resolve disputes and conflict and to learn from each other in the hopes of finding solutions to life and work challenges.

Salahuddin also said in spite of the many opportunities that the modern and technology-driven society offers, the IPs continue to experience discrimination particularly in finding employment.

“Even if they met the qualification standard set by the position, still IPs do not usually get the job,” Salahuddin said.

“Although it is not deliberately expressed that they don’t get the job because they are IPs, IPs feel that such is the case and ask that they be given equal opportunity since they feel that they don’t have a chance to get a job outside Basilan. This may become a root for conflict, Salahuddin said.

The forum aimed to provide the participants with best practices and ideas that may resolve disputes in their communities. The participants were also adviced how to identify various and common disputes among themselves and explore the ways of addressing them.

“KAMI is yet to uncover fully, through the forum, on how to bring genuine “Kalilintad Mindanao” in place. But with the unity within and among indigenous peoples of Basilan, lasting peace won’t be that difficult to achieve,” Mohammad said.

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