Opening Remarks of the Father President:

Our Distinguished guests, who will be introduced later on, members of the Saint Mary’s University Community, our visitors, ladies and gentlemen,

We are gathered this morning because we acknowledge our brothers and sisters who are indigenous in Northern Luzon. In this regard, we are proud for Nueva Vizcaya, for since time immemorial it is the home of as many as sixteen indigenous tribes. And so we greet the tribal members of the Agta, the Aplay, Ayangan, Bago, Balanao, Bugkalot, Gaddang, Ibaloi, Isinai, Itneg, Iwak, Kalanguya, Kalinga, Kangkanaey, Kalao.. and Tuwali.

Our indigenous brothers and sisters have been looked down throughout history as backward and inferior, and their indigenous knowledge and traditions are seen as obstacles to economic progress and modernization. Education and religion were used by the colonizers, and the indigenous people were marginalized. Moreover, it is sad to note that the Indigenous People, their knowledge system ..and practices are on their way to extinction. The Indigenous Elders are vanishing one by one. Their Young in general are not appreciative of their indigenous knowledge and traditions. And a recent study of Nueva Vizcaya colleges and universities confirm that the level of awareness of indigenous teachers and students are indeed going down. We are loosing them, and there is an urgency because it is said, when an indigenous elder dies a whole library burns down.

It is high time, therefore for us to rectify and reverse these trends. The UN…it says cultural diversity is as necessary for human life as biodiversity is for nature. In this sense, it is the common heritage of humanity and should be recognized and affirmed for the benefit for the present and future generations.

Bishop Sergio Otneg who chairs the CBCP Episcopal Commision on Indigenos People recently is inviting us all to value our indigenous heritage as Filipinos. And we are aligned also with the CICM, the founding fathers of Saint Mary’s who have adopted the Indigenous People as its top priority in the Philippines. And today, as we respond to the needs of our indigenous brothers and sisters, we are launching the Institute for Indigenous Knowledge and Tradition in Saint Mary’s University.

My dear friends, your presence this morning is highly appreciated. Thank you for showing your support to the indigenous people. And once more, welcome to the launching of the IKAT Institute of Saint Mary’s University.


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