Defending Indigenous Rights In Philippines
Kinja’s priority is to raise awareness and advocate against attacks, including the government’s militarised push-back on human rights activists, to indigenous peoples and environmental human rights defenders in Philippines. In 2020, Kinja went through a learning process to find relevant approaches for advocating for indigenous people's rights under harsh community lockdown conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She adapted to this new reality by working virtually to raise awareness and mobilise indigenous music and culture to build community solidarity and to spread messages of collective action for sustainable development through the Kasiyana music video series on indigenous knowledge. Kinja produced nine music videos, each featuring a specific theme and song from a local group. The videos were circulated on social media (see Partners for Indigenous Knowledge Philippines ‘PIKP’s’ Facebook page and website) and featured in various campaigns, webinars and online activities by other Indigenous people’s organisations. Kinja participated in online campaigns such as #defendcordilleraPH, a campaign against state attacks and development aggression (e.g., large-scale mining) that intensified with the government's response to the pandemic. Through Kinja’s participation in the Defend Cordillera campaign, she was able to contribute towards:
- a Food and Agriculture recipe book
- the advocacy manual for Indigenous Peoples Rights International
- a newsletter for Centres of Distinction on Indigenous and Local Knowledge
- an anthology on indigenous knowledge system and practices
- a book on indigenous home gardening.
After watching Kinja’s video of her personal journey in 2020, some members of her community said: “Great to see that you were able to place your time into really meaningful work during the community quarantine. Also inspiring to see that there are actually a lot of things that youth can do to forward this advocacy.” - Gabriela Cariño, friend.
Kinja is an indigenous Ibaloy-Kankanaey and is affiliated with Partners for Indigenous Knowledge - Philippines (PIKP), which is a learning network of individuals and grassroots indigenous communities working to reclaim their heritage and assert their vision of self-determined development. The PIKP network includes researchers, writers, artists and advocates doing documentation and promotion of indigenous knowledge and stories shared. PIKP has worked in partnership with community organizations and public schools to produce materials that are useful in improving Indigenous Peoples Education in the Philippines.
Kinja’s main cause is contributing towards respecting indigenous peoples’ rights and valuing indigenous cultures, particularly indigenous values, knowledge and practices on biological diversity and local food cultures in these communities. In the current climate in recent years that has seen a weakening in the practice of indigenous knowledge due to a combination of various factors such as the seeming lack of interest, weakening of traditional values, and loss of indigenous knowledge especially among the younger generation - being involved with initiatives that produce various materials on promoting indigenous knowledge that can be easily accessible for use by community members and other interested people and collaborating with larger networks is important.
Kinja is interested in working towards revitalizing and promoting indigenous, traditional and local knowledge, systems and practices, as well as the recognition of these as a legitimate knowledge system by working with projects that bring together teachers, local government units, non-government organizations, community elders, women, professionals and youth for inter-generational learning and transmission of knowledge.
Quote: The work I do strives to involve the different sectors in the community for a more inclusive and collective effort to document, strengthen, transmit and promote indigenous knowledge. This would mean not only leaning on the elders of the community, the knowledge holders, but also involving the youth for them to learn as well as contribute their own ideas and potentials towards strengthening the community so new pathways to the future are being co-created through inter-generational learning.