A woman leader from an indigenous peoples (IP) community in Negros Occidental’s Isabela town has been recognized for her contributions to the preservation of IP rights and culture.
Teresita Enario Sinceda, 68 years old, is the first Ati woman in Western Visayas to become the IP mandatory representative (IPMR) in a municipal council, and is also one of the three cultural masters in the country awarded by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) this year.
“We congratulate Ati leader Teresita ‘Dayku’ Sinceda, who was awarded Gawad Gabay Para sa Katutubo,” Isabela Tourism, Culture and Arts Affairs said in a statement on Tuesday, October 31.
The citation is in line with the 2023 IP Month and the 26th IP Rights Act (IPRA) commemoration this October.
The award, given on October 22 at the Metropolitan Theater in Manila, recognizes Sinceda’s expertise as a cultural master in ensuring the transmission of “Buhay na Dunong” in the School of Living Traditions and continuing to enrich indigenous cultures and traditions.
Sinceda also sat as one of the panelists for the NCCA’s Ugnayan Forum on Living Heritage: Creativity and Nature along with cultural workers from the various Schools of Living Traditions located across the country.
Meanwhile, as the IPMR of about 10,000 IPs living in eight villages of Isabela, she said they now have a voice in the locality, where they can serve as partners for development.
“We feel less discriminated because we are now better informed and empowered,” she said in an interview, after taking her oath as a member of the municipal council earlier this month.
Under Section 16 of Republic Act 8371 or the IPRA of 1997, indigenous cultural communities or indigenous peoples’ structures are given the right to participate in decision-making that affects their rights, lives, and future.
The provision prompted the Department of the Interior and Local Government to provide initial guidelines for the inclusion of IPMRs in local legislative councils.
Such is also reaffirmed by the NCIP Administrative Order 3, series of 2018, as amended by NCIP Administrative Order 1, series of 2021, or “Revised National Guidelines for the Mandatory Representation of Indigenous Peoples in Local Legislative Councils and Policy-making Bodies.”
October is Indigenous Peoples Month pursuant to Presidential Proclamation 1906, series of 2009, which is also in line with the 20th anniversary of the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
This year’s observance of IP Month is themed “Buhay na Dunong: Pagkamalikhain at Kalikasan” (Living Heritage: Creativity and Nature), which highlights the IPs creativity and nature’s richness to sustain the country’s living heritage. (PNA)