YOuth rep asks NCIP to clarify description of IPs
by Rimaliza A. Opiña
The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples is in hot water again.
Sangguniang Kabataan Federation president Karminn Yangot is asking the NCIP to rectify the agency’s supposed “misrepresentation” of the physical attributes of indigenous peoples.
Yangot said the NCIP’s website has inaccurately described IPs as to their phenotypes, present living conditions, and subsistence systems.
Yangot said the NCIP website describes Ibalois as “generally fair in complexion (with) well-developed bodies, usually standing four to five feet above in height,” with “medium and narrow noses (although) some have broad flat noses, (and) deep-seated brown and black eyes.” Ibaloi women on the other hand, have “straight long hair although there are also some who have curly hair;” and Ikalahans or natives of Nueva Vizcaya “as short people, fair complexioned, with black round eyes, and black straight and silky hair, (and) their noses are fairly developed.” It went on to describe Ifugaos as “of medium build, brawny and brown with black eyes, straight hair, and thin lips.”
The NCIP website describes the Ikalahans as shy people who “live in far flung areas, unreached by any type of transportation,” Bontocs are projected as headhunters whose men wear loincloth and whose women wear wrap-around skirts.
Yangot said these are “misrepresentations” that “create stereotypes, cultural biases, and ethnic prejudice, and perpetuate the alienation of the misrepresented indigenous communities from the mainstream.”
“The projection of indigenous communities as primitive peoples untouched by modernization is tantamount to the denial of the presence of indigenous issues regarding development aggression which have spawned forced eviction, economic dislocation, and cultural displacement, which denial may result in the non-resolution of these issues.”
Yangot reminded the NCIP’s mandate is to “protect and promote the interest and well-being of the indigenous cultural communities with due regard to their beliefs, customs, traditions, and institutions,” and not depict them as described.
In a proposed resolution, she also asked the NCIP to create a committee of experts to come up with accurate resource materials of IPs of the Philippines. – Rimaliza A. Opiña