There are about 12 to 15 million indigenous people (IP) who inhabit the Philippines, which is approximately 15 to 20 percent of the country’s total population. These IPs belong to about 110 ethnic communities and speak around 170 languages, majority of them (about 60 percent) live in Mindanao, about 33 percent dwell in Luzon, and the remaining (6%) are in Visayas region. 

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While these indigenous people groups belong to the very dynamic and culturally-diverse sector of the society, they all have experienced decades of exploitation, poverty, negligence from the government and social discrimination that have further marginalized them and pushed them inland and upland. Generally considered the poorest sector in the Philippines today, the IPs have to deal with issues concerning basic human rights, war and conflict resolution, employment opportunities and discrimination, jurisdiction and ancestral domain, and preservation of their cultures and traditions. 

The growing incidents of displacements and rising death cases have taken its toll on the IP communities. The IPs have become innocent victims of development aggression, with their ancestral lands taken away from them. Political and economic players have neglected the respect and protection of the IPs’ rights to their ancestral domain. Their ancestral lands have been central to their communities, directly linked to their cultural integrity and identity. Their ancestral domain is the key to the preservation of their indigenous knowledge, cultural systems, traditional practices and rich heritage.

This October, over 400 indigenous peoples from 60 cultural communities all over the Philippines will gather together to discuss the issues that have been haunting them for decades and possibly find shared solutions to their predicaments in DAYAW 2015: The Indigenous Peoples Month Celebration, a collaborative effort between various government agencies, primarily headed by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA)’s Sub-commission on Cultural Communities and Traditional Arts, to be held on October 15 to 17, 2015 in Angeles, Pampanga. 

The word “Dayaw” means “to present with pride what is distinctly and essentially inherent to oneself” in old Tigaonon of Surigao del Sur; “to show one’s best with pride and dignity coupled with excitement” in old Catandunganon; and, “honor” in Ilokano. 

With this year’s theme “Katutubong Kaalaman para sa Kalikasan at Kapayapaan,” the festival serves as a good venue to raise awareness on indigenous peoples and their rights, issues and concerns. The festival also aims to raise the appreciation of the Filipino culture and its diversity. Through various activities, the festival will highlight traditional and local knowledge on environment protection and advocate peace, while sharing the uniqueness of each cultural community in the Philippines.

In the biggest gathering of different cultural communities in the Philippines, there will be Summit Sessions where IP leaders exchanges wisdom of their indigenous knowledge systems and practices, as well as discussion on various issues affecting the IP communities while at the same time asserting their rights, promoting their own interests, and protecting their culture and traditions while dealing with the realities of their daily existence amid the face of globalization, turbulent social situation and national political challenges. 

There will also be outreach performances and cultural exchanges in various locations in Pampanga. The IP groups will showcase their traditional dances, songs and chants. In exchange, the host community will share their culture and traditions to the IP participants through a heritage tour. The IP delegates will also demonstrate their traditional games and share their cuisine.

For more information on this press release, please contact Mr. Rene Napeñas, head of the Public Affairs and Information Office, through 0928-5081057, 527-2192 loc 208 or through email address: