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Sanchez Mira Nat’l High celebrates IP Month

TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan (PIA) - - Sanchez Mira National High School (SMNHS) in the municipality of Sanchez Mira, Cagayan has recently ended October as Indigenous People’s Month by conducting a culminating program on November 4, 2022.

The School’s initiative aims to raise awareness on the rights and the culture of the local indigenous people (IP) in the town, the Atta Isigiran, of whom many of the their youth attend classes in the said school. 

The event was attended by school officials, LGU officials and representatives, Atta community leaders, as well as students composed of the Ilokano majority and the Atta, whose elders showcased some of their performing traditions such as the dallut chant and the daredde dance.

During the program, Josephine Pattaguan, representative of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples - Cagayan office, delivered an orientation on the rights of the Atta as promoted by the state.

According to her, the public should be aware of the Indigenous People’s Rights Act of 1997, as this is fundamental in recognizing the identity of IPs and the value they contribute to the cultural diversity inherent in the Philippines as nation.

Jan Karl Coballes, Information Officer from the Philippine Information Agency - Region 2, on the other hand, presented a brief introduction to the many ethnic groups and languages in Cagayan, where he featured the difference between the Isigiran Atta, Ilabin Agta, and the Dupaningan Agta groups whose ethnicities are often poorly understood.

He also explained that there are many other languages and ethnic groups in Cagayan apart from the dominantly populous Ilokano and that these minorities should be known and treated as co-equals as they are both  part of the Cagayano identity and the  Filipino national identity as a whole.

Atta performers play gongs to accompany a traditional dance known as deredde, which was performed during the IP Month culminating activity in Sanchez Mira National High School (Photo by Harold dela Cruz)

Harold dela Cruz, a teacher from SMNHS under the Indigenous Peoples Education program, said that protecting the culture and identity of the Atta people starts with protecting their language from endangerment, which will be subsumed in the United Nations’ global endeavor to promote indigenous languages through the International Decade of Indigenous Languages.

Simultaneously, a feeding program for the Atta community was conducted by the Sanchez Mira Police Station,  the Sanchez Mira LGU, and the Rotary Club Citdel, while free slippers and medicines were distributed by the Rotaract Club of Tuguegarao. 

Randy Tiene and Erlinda Tiene, representatives of the Atta people in Sanchez Mira, gave their gratitude for the conduct of the activity as they said their culture and identity are gradually being recognized by more people, even those from outside the municipality.

Ronald Gapusan, SMNHS Principal, expressed his optimism as he stated that activities which cater to IP rights will continue to be initiated by the school. (JKC/PIA Region 2/Photos from Harold dela Cruz)

About the Author

Jan Karl Coballes

Regional Editor; Research and Development Officer; Tuguegarao City and Batanes Information Center Manager

Region 2

Ibanag. Writer. Researcher. Ethnographer. Ethno-historian. Graduate student focusing on linguistic and cultural anthropology.

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