Kalindogan 2010: Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Preparedness

Kalindogan 2010

From inception to conclusion, Kalindogan 2010 aimed at promoting even greater IP youth involvement with the various work areas of the conference. These included the management of the IP youth steering committee, opening rituals, various workshops, nightly solidarity sessions that encourage story-telling or the sharing of local IP realities, poster-making activity, balagtasan, song and poem writing, and cultural presentations.

The participants arrived at the Pamulaan Center for Indigenous Peoples Education, USeP, Mintal Campus, Davao City. They settled-in, relaxed, and participated in the indigenous games held for creating camaraderie. The interfaith sessions allowed them to share their personal and cultural uniqueness as they began each day with their own version of prayers and genuflection. The opening rituals held at the Living Heritage Center, and solemnly concelebrated by IP elders, also contributed to the fostering of one community spirit. A highlight for these rituals was the holding of a Panubadtubad, which is the traditional way the Matigsalog tribe call on Manama or God.

Ronalyn Floro delivered the welcome address to her fellow youth participants. She is a third year Manobo student and PAMULAAN’s over-all representative and coordinator for Kalindogan 2010. In her speech, Ronalyn expressed her joy for the opportunity of the IP youth to gather once more for communal learning and growth.

An additional interesting event was added this year: the launching of the Peace Hub. The activity aimed at encouraging the IP youth to take advantage of knowledge access through the Living Heritage Center (LHC). The LHC was promoted among them as a repository of various books and other academic resources, as well as a gateway to the internet world for the students of PAMULAAN and the public at large.

Mr. Benjamin D. Abadiano, president of the Assisi Development Foundation, Inc., welcomed the participants and acknowledged the presence of other guests and delegates who represented the various organizations in attendance. He talked about the reasons for the existence of Kalindogan and the significance of the annual event. He emphasized how in the past, only the elders were given the opportunity to be heard in discussions concerning IP issues, but that Kalindogan opened the venue for the IP youth to be heard as well. Mr. Abadiano also spoke of how Kalindogan gave the IP youth the opportunity to be directly involved in the decision-making process that affected their communities.

The expectations of all the participants as regards the conference were then gathered and consolidated.  It revealed how many of them saw the gathering as a valuable opportunity for meeting new friends, enjoying and participating in various youth and IP related activites, gaining a deeper understanding of their own tribe, culture, and the environment. They expressed their shared desire to learn more about IP concerns, climate change adaptation and disaster preparedness, as well as the cultural practices of other tribes. They also wished for the conference to be well-organized, and for their co-participants to be friendly, participative, open to knowledge sharing, and expressive of their thoughts, ideas, and realizations.

The program formally began with a keynote address by two IP leaders: Mr. Edtami Mansayagan and Congressman Teddy Baguilat. These were followed by reports from environmental experts on the worldwide trend on the impact and effects of climate change. The reports were all supported by data from local agencies and contextualized with indigenous issues related to the realities of climate change.

The conference was activity-filled, which gave the participants many opportunities for learning and planning. They learned more about the global climate change situation through the talks delivered by former DENR Secretary, Dr. Elisea P. Gozun and Ms. Dallay Annawi, who is the representative of Fr. Pedro Walpole of the Environmental Science for Social Change (ESSC). Bro. Karl Gaspar, an influential religious leader, provided a synthesis and Ms. Ma. Teresa Dominguez gave a lecture on Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK). The International Institute for Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) then facilitated various workshops, demonstrations, and training on disaster-preparedness.

The conference’s culminating activity was the declaration of solidarity. This activity enabled the participants to bring together into a unified statement all the thoughts, words, and actions that they have generated as a result of the many activities they have experienced.

The conference clarified for the participants why the Philippines needs to adapt to climate change. It enabled them to distinguish among the available response levels, such as the mitigation for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the adaptation of human systems to environmental stimuli. They realized the importance of intensifying and mainstreaming climate change adaptation, and the impact of this phenomenon on several resources and various aspects of everyday life. They came to see how climate change is not only a scientific and ecological issue, but a development issue as well which every individual should address on a personal level. They came to understand how IPs are directly affected by climate change, particularly those who draw sustenance from agriculture and forest harvesting and the use of water and land, and among those who reside in extremely hazardous areas such as shorelines and mountain slopes. They also came to face the difficult barriers to effective mitigation and adaptation, specifically on how the non-participation of several key sectors tend to undermine or counter the gains made in this endeavor.

Generally, the 5th Kalindogan IP Youth Congress successfully empowered the IP youth towards greater personal involvement and commitment to the issue of climate change. It enabled them to envision ways by which they can collectively merge their own abilities, so that they can help prepare their communities for the effects of climate change.