PROJECT EPANAW BALER EXHIBIT OPENING PROGRAM

The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Region 3 invites the public to the virtual opening program of Project Epanaw Baler Exhibit today, 9AM via Facebook live streaming.
The book and photo exhibit is housed at the Museo de Baler until April 30, 2021, in cooperation with the Local Government Unit of Baler, Baler Tourism Office, and the 91st Infantry Sinagtala Batallion (7ID, PA).
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PROJECT EPANAW: THE JOURNEY WITH OUR INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
BOOK 1 – “PAGKILALA”
(Recognize: Indigenous Peoples and Ancestral Domains)
Recognition, in laymen’s language, is ‘to know’. Recognition cannot be had without knowledge and information. This first book in the series of three coffee table books seeks such recognition. There can be no understanding of deeper issues of the Indigenous Peoples if one does not even have basic knowledge of who these communities are, what their cultures and traditions are, and what are the issues that they face on a daily basis in their communities. To be able to truly understand one must first get to know.
In this simple concept of introducing these communities to the public at large, there is awareness, and such awareness, care, and concern are created. It is the hope of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) to showcase the cultures of these Peoples and these communities to raise awareness. Only then can we even begin to tackle their issues. Only then can there be a TRUE RECOGNITION of these communities.
EPANAW means journey. Come take a journey of self-discovery and in the end, awareness and recognition of our Indigenous Peoples. Most importantly, we come to the recognition of our own cultural identities, as the threads that bind us together are inextricable.
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BOOK 2 – “PAGGALANG”
(Respect: Justice System, Cultural Integrity and Way of Life)
One enduring theme and objective of Republic Act 8371 is the respect that should be afforded to Indigenous Peoples. Safeguards are put up under the law to meet this end. However, some people would say that respect is not demanded, but rather earned. This second book of the three-volume series of coffee table books is premised on the concept of respect.
One cannot come to respect if one does not even understand the need for it. In this book, we highlight the Rituals and Festivals of Indigenous Peoples and Communities and call for respect for their cultures and traditions as well as their sacred grounds and way of life. To truly understand, there is a need to immerse ourselves in the diversity of their faiths, spirituality, and lifestyles. We need to deepen our understanding so we are able to grasp what RESPECT should be.
At the end of the day, it is our treatment of people whom we consider as ‘others’ that fleshes out what respect really is.
EPANAW means journey. We invite you to take a journey on sacred grounds and discover deep spiritual and cultural traditions that may also find reflections on our own belief systems, and help us form a complete image of who we are as a people that resonate with who we are as an individual.
Come take this spiritual and cultural journey with us and discover faiths and spirituality. Discover yourself and develop deep and profound RESPECT.
For these Indigenous Peoples and Communities –For your own self.
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BOOK 3 – “PAGTAGUYOD”
(Tourism Destinations, Protected Areas, Critical Infrastructure, and Natural Resources in the Ancestral Domains)
Another highlight of Republic Act 8371 is the promotion, not only of the cultures and traditions of Indigenous Peoples but as well as the safeguarding of their Ancestral Domains. These people have been subjected to a long history of abuses, and in order for us to truly put to practice what the Republic Act seeks to accomplish, we must first understand them. This third book of the three-volume series of coffee table books is premised on the concept of PROMOTE.
When one understands or RECOGNIZES, then one develops deep and profound RESPECT. Consequently, what one respects, then one naturally would PROMOTE – not only their rights but as well as the wonders that make these peoples and communities unique. This volume focuses on the destinations within these domains. Is this tourism then? Yes, and no. While it does highlight the beauty and magnificence of these destinations, it does not seek to capitalize on these destinations as ‘travel’ destinations. Instead, it invites people to go on a ‘pilgrimage’ to these sacred grounds – to walk the paths, not as foreign tourists, but as natives, regarding these grounds as our connections to the divine. Not as destinations per se, but as a homecoming.
EPANAW means journey. We invite you to come to take a journey and discover the divine.
Discover divinity and connections to the spirit realms, connections to our higher selves.
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AN INVITATION TO A JOURNEY OF A LIFETIME
All the profiles of the Indigenous Peoples, their rich cultural heritage, identities and traditions, and the richness of their ancestral domains will all be in vain if we cannot help them in protecting their ancestral lands. Years of historical injustices have already taken a toll on them and continue to threaten their very existence. With this Project Epanaw, we do not only shine a spotlight on them and feature them but also intensify our call for protection of their very own domains – roots of their cultural identity and inextricable to their very core and identity.
It is our hope that after opening your eyes to the beauty of these diverse cultures, you are moved to join us and hand in hand, join our efforts together to protect these Indigenous Peoples and Communities. Our efforts, together, will be a strong bulwark of support and strength for these vulnerable communities.
We journey with them, and we feel their very pains.
And resolve to PROTECT them at all costs.
After all, this journey is not just theirs. This is ours as a people – as a nation.
This is our EPANAW!

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