THE UST Simbahayan Community Development Office celebrated last Nov. 11 the “Araw ng Katutubo” (Day of Indigenous Peoples) with the University’s partner-communities in Bamban, Tarlac, as part of efforts to promote Aeta culture.
About 200 participants from sitios Malasa, Mabilog, Santa Rosa, Buok, and San Martin performed cultural presentations. Representatives from the Lumad of Mindanao and Dumagat of Sitio Mainit, Rizal also participated.
The annual event, which started in 2003, was part of the Simbahayan’s distance education program involving literacy education, wherein UST professors taught adult Aetas. The University first engaged the Aeta communities through distance education in 1991.
“If UST did not respond to the immersion here in Bamban, baka kahit anong batas na pagselebra ng Araw ng Katutubo ay hindi mapansin,” Carlito Policarpio, municipal administrator in Bamban, said.
Republic Act 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act of 1997 orders the protection and promotion of the rights of indigenous people.
Joanna Mae Anain, a graduate of the teacher certificate program of UST, said young indigenous people should study well to give hope to their culture.
“Kulot ka, beluga ka; huwag mong hayaang bigyan-kahulugan ka ng mundo…kasi ang mundo ay paghahalo ng pagkikilanlan.” Anain said in a forum.
Faculty members and students from the College of Tourism and Hospitality Management, College of Education, Institute of Information and Computing Sciences, Ecclesiastical Faculties, College of Architecture, Senior High School and Junior High School as well as representatives from the Student Tourism Society, Philippine Association of Nutrition – Omega Chapter, and selected UST offices also joined the event.
“The whole purpose [of the event] is for [the Aetas] to be proud of their culture and for us to support their culture,” Simbahayan Director Mark Anthony Abenir said.
In January, the Simbahayan office will hold the annual “Pistang Tomas,” a livelihood and trade fair where the University’s partner-communities will showcase their products inside the campus.