The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is Aug. 9, and we thought it was fitting to hear from a few sponsored youth from the Dumagat tribe, an indigenous community in the Philippines, about their heritage and hopes for the future.
The Philippines is home to many indigenous peoples, in honor of which October is designated as Indigenous People Month by the National Council of Churches in the Philippines. Observances are held throughout the country.
As part of Indigenous People Month, the Dumagat community celebrated with traditional ceremonies, a parade and cultural presentations. The Dumagats take pride in their cultural identity and history, and enjoy sharing it with others.
Deep in the lush mountains of the northern Philippines, an indigenous tribe lives respectfully with nature.
Meet the Dumagats.
The Dumagat indigenous community has lived in the mountains and lowlands of the Philippines for a thousand years.
They have slowly been pushed out of their home by logging, overfishing and encroaching landowners.
They could do nothing to address these problems because they never officially held a title to their lands.
And without guidance and assistance, they were hesitant to begin the painstaking documentation needed to obtain a title.
Until they partnered with CFCA.
Read the amazing story of the Dumagat indigenous community and how they worked with local CFCA staffers to gain the recognition of their ancestral domain.
Walk2gether arrived in La Paz, Bolivia, in time to celebrate Las Alasitas, a local festival with indigenous roots.
Here are two Bolivian miniatures, gifts to some of our staff in International. They are about an inch tall and easily fit into the palm of your hand.
Henry Flores, director of CFCAís communication center in El Salvador, spoke by phone with Ruth Valderrama, La Paz project coordinator.
Ruth and the walkers were arriving at the hotel and she did not have much time, but she managed to provide this brief explanation of the tradition.
The Las Alasitas fair is a local tradition that usually starts on Jan. 24 and lasts for about three days. People from all over La Paz and nearby El Alto come to the fair.
The fair is celebrated only in La Paz at the fair center and on the main avenue of El Alto, very close, but higher in altitude, than La Paz.
During the fair, local artisans, mostly indigenous people, make miniatures symbolizing different material wishes people have for the upcoming year.
These wishes can be for a house, a car, etc. People buy a miniature of the item they wish to receive.
There are also miniatures for those looking for a match. Women who want to find the man of their dreams buy miniature roosters. Men looking for a woman buy miniature chickens.
This major cultural celebration has its origins in indigenous Andean traditions. In ancient times, people would present miniatures to Ekeko, a household god of abundance and prosperity.
Many families in the CFCA sponsorship program participate in this local cultural celebration.
To see pictures from the fair, see our Facebook photo album.
Information provided by Rafael Villalobos, San Jose, Costa Rica, project coordinator
The global recession has hurt businesses catering to tourists who want to see the world. Itís also hurt an indigenous community that earns a livelihood from the sale of handicrafts to tourists in Costa Rica.
The Maleku are an indigenous tribe living in Guatuso, a beautiful tourist destination 150 miles from the city of San JosÈ, Costa Rica. Tourists come from all over the world to visit the light blue Frio River, said by locals to have its color because when God painted the sky blue He washed His brushes in this river.
The Maleku try to live peacefully and in harmony with nature. Having lost territory to cattle farmers, the Maleku are working hard to recover the forests and protect local flora. They use the tourism industry to give tours of the forest and showcase the many benefits it provides, such as medicinal plants, colored inks from plants and cacao beans for chocolate.
Most Maleku are artisans, working with local materials from the forest to create handicrafts. Many work as a family, with some members searching for materials, some working in the first steps of preparation, some painting the colorful images and others selling them to tourists. The Maleku make handicrafts by old traditions that celebrate their culture, items like masks, painted gourds, rain sticks and drums.
MarÌa Lillian, a member of the Maleku community, is the mother of Marta, 18, a CFCA scholarship student in ninth grade, Joselyn, an 8-year-old sponsored child, and three other children. The family works making handicrafts to sell to tourists. A single mask can take up to 15 days to make and a drum can be completed in about six days. Often a family member must travel up to 25 miles in order to obtain the materials they need.
Unfortunately, tourism has been affected by the global economic crisis. Guatuso has seen an 80 percent reduction in tourists visiting the area. This reduction also means a decrease in sales profits from handicrafts for families like MarÌaís. Previously making $400 a month on handicrafts, they are now selling only $30 a month.
MarÌa is currently making bread to sell because she had no other income besides the handicrafts. It is a difficult situation for the family, who love what they do and value their culture and tradition, but can no longer make enough money to cover their basic needs.
Last year, in order to bring their business closer to the tourists, a community of Maleku worked for months to build a community hall near the road where access of tourists would be easier. Due to the economic crisis, they have only welcomed one group of tourists this year, while last year they received 4 groups each month.
Paul Pearce, director of CFCA international programs, said this story illustrates how sponsorship is vital to help families weather economic ups and downs. ìItís an example of the precarious nature of a familyís narrow budget,î he explains. “Sponsorship can help absorb some of the blow of an economic impact like this.”