Indigenous Peoples

The Bugkalot  

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     Adapting to Climate Change the ‘Indigenous way’

Many of what remains of the world’s forests are in Indigenous Peoples’ control through Ancestral Domain Stewardship and Native Title Grants. Their traditional customs and beliefs are based upon the belief that forests and lands must be cared for and protected for the benefit of future generations. These customary traditions and beliefs is how Indigenous Peoples perceive their role as stewards of everything entrusted them. 

Given what we know about the Philippines and their Indigenous Peoples, it follows that an Indigenous led ‘Climate Change Action Plan’ to overcome food insecurity and combat carbon emissions and climate change has very strong merit. Their community-based forest management strategies involve setting aside conservation areas, woodcutting and watershed management which play an important role in reversing the process of deforestation, sequestering carbon and rural development. They regard their forests and lands as sources of sustenance and livelihood. Their identities, culture, way of life, social organisations and traditional knowledge systems always revolved around their forests and lands.

So deeply rooted is their cultural, economic and spiritual relationship with their forests and lands that they have passionately resisted attempts to displace them and also imposition of government programmes such as conservation or protected area programmes, if they ignored the reciprocal relationships between indigenous peoples and their forests. However, weather predictability is now failing Indigenous ingenuity and traditional knowledge. Their traditional planting and food growing calendars no longer work and their ability to sustain themselves in the forests is weakening. But Indigenous Peoples resilience is rooted in their traditional knowledge spanning thousands of years. Their capacity to adapt to environmental change is based on their willingness and strong understanding of the land and forests.  During the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change said:

We are among those most impacted by climate change. The issues of approaches to address loss and damage associated with climate change impacts, national adaptation plans, and funds for adaptation and least developed countries are of utmost importance and must be addressed with our full and effective participation. In relation to these issues, we reiterate the need for recognition of our traditional knowledge, which we have sustainably used and practiced for generations; and the need to integrate such knowledge in global, national and sub-national efforts. This knowledge is our vital contribution to climate change adaptation and mitigation’.

Indigenous knowledge is fine tuned to their local areas and environment, usually because they do not venture far away from their habitats. Interestingly, many of the intact ecosystems globally are found in indigenous territories, because they live a low carbon lifestyle and use their local traditional knowledge to be in sync with their local environments. These factors together with the failing of weather predictability suggest that CPRSX’s indigenous led Food Security and Climate Change Adaptation strategies, while undertaken at local levels must find common grounds between all tribes, to unify some aspects of their traditional knowledge and customs (i.e. Food Production afforestation and Climate Change Adaptation).

Recognising the contribution of Indigenous Peoples to climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Indigenous People can be defined as ‘the descendants of the inhabitants of a country or region who were present when people of different ethnic or cultural origins arrived and become dominant through settlement, occupation or conquest’. In the case of the Philippines, it is reasonable to contend that it experienced each; settlement, occupation and conquest. Therefore each influenced modern day Indigenous People’s beliefs, customs, traditions, laws and spirituality in different ways.  Not all tribes hold the same beliefs or traditions.

It is the diversity of the effects of settlement, occupation and conquest that encourages and motivates CPRSX’s Climate Change Action Plan ™ because the Indigenous People and tribes have a diverse and colourful history which contributed to their modern-day beliefs, traditions and customs but above all; their forestry dependency skills and knowledge obtained through history.

The  traditional customary knowledge handed down from one generation to the next is the cornerstone of critically important ‘Indigenous assets’ that will contribute to climate change mitigation, food security and climate change adaptation; in more ways than most might imagine. By 2018, the CPRSX Climate Change Action Plan ™ will demonstrate that the skills, knowledge and motivation necessary to combat climate change and food insecurity are in the hands of the Bugkalot and other Indigenous People of the Philippines.

The CPRSX Climate Change Action Plan TM integrates overlooked indigenous assets with climate change adaptation, food security, learning and skills development; and above all new commercial and socioeconomic opportunities that will endure for generation to come.  To relate to these propositions in terms of climate change and food production, it helps to summarily examine the known history of the Philippines where that history concerns the Indigenous Peoples and tribes, because they more than most others, can contribute a great deal to eliminate food insecurity and poverty, carbon emissions and climate change mitigation.

Philippine History

The Negritos are believed to have migrated to the Philippines some 30,000 years ago from Borneo, Sumatra, and Malaya. These people belonged to a primitive epoch of Malayan culture, which has apparently survived to this day among certain groups such as the Igorots. The Malayan tribes that came later had more highly developed material cultures. In the 14th century Arab traders from Malay and Borneo introduced Islam into the southern islands and extended their influence as far north as Luzon.

Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan led a Spanish expedition in 1521 and discovered the Philippine archipelago which he named Las Islas Filipinas. However in 1542 Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobos renamed the archipelago in honour of King Philip II of Spain, a devout catholic and son of Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire and his wife Infanta Isabella of Portugal.

The diversity of Indigenous cultural and customary influences

By the mid 1500’s the influences of Borneo, Sumatra, Malaya, Spain, Arabia, China, Islam and Christianity were introduced through trade and settlement. The Chinese traded for centuries with the Filipinos before the Spanish arrived. In 1654 Miguel López de Legaspi established Spanish leadership over small tribal communities that were previously ruled by tribal laws and customs. In 1571 Legaspi established the Spanish city of Manila on the site of a Moro town which he conquered the year before. By the end of the 16th century Manila became a leading commercial centre of East Asia carrying on trade with China, India, and the East Indies.

The Philippines supplied gold to Spain and the galleons plying between the islands and New Spain were often attacked by English pirates while the Dutch were laying the foundations of their rich empire in the East Indies with Moro pirates between 1600 and 1663. As the power of the Spanish Empire waned, the Jesuit orders became more influential in the Philippines and they acquired great amounts of property.

The Indigenous Filipinos were therefore influenced by and learned skills from many different cultures, which in part normalised some common traditions, customs and beliefs. They were after all forestry and land dependent people. They understood the integration of farming and agro- food production, logging, forestry care, wildlife and fire farming.  These skills and knowledge were and continue to be passed down from one generation to the next.

Today, the Filipino Indigenous People number around 11.5 million or 10% of the Philippines population and between 2013 and 2016, CPRSX met many different tribes which have become our JV Partners in CPRSX’s Environmentally Controlled Food Production and Afforestation projects. It is through these novel partnerships that the Indigenous Peoples will gain employment and business opportunities, together with learning and climate change adaptation skills, as they adapt to modern technology and management processes.