MANILA — Senator Loren Legarda on Wednesday urged the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to create culture-based vocational courses as part of efforts to support indigenous peoples (IPs) and promote Philippine culture.
Legarda made her call on TESDA in her statement at the opening of the Conference on Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) for Indigenous People of the ASEAN at Bayleaf Hotel in Intramuros, Manila.
“Through TESDA’s TVET, we can provide our IPs better employment and livelihood opportunities. But while we empower our IPs through skills development and enhancement for employment in smainstream industries, I urge the creation of culture-based vocational courses,” she said.
Legarda, chairperson of the Senate committee on cultural communities, said many of the crafts of the country’s IPs are in demand in other countries.
”Many of our crafts are being sought abroad but the supply, especially of handmade products, cannot keep up with the demand because a handwoven cloth made of abaca or handmade basket made of nito would take weeks or months to complete,” Legarda said.
”This economic opportunity is what we must present to our IPs. We need not take our IPs out of their communities, which they strive to preserve as part of their heritage. We can provide the needed livelihood support to them by promoting their culture through traditional skills training program,” she said.
Legarda said that TESDA can partner with local government units, especially those with Schools of Living Traditions (SLTs), and cultural agencies in creating culture-based courses.
“We have to develop interest in traditional skills like hand weaving, embroidery, tabungaw-making, basket-weaving, pottery, and likewise present the economic opportunities that can be derived from acquiring or improving on such skills,” she stressed.
The senator also said that stronger support for IPs is needed especially with the emergence of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).
“ASEAN’s bold vision of achieving the free flow of goods, services, investment, and skilled labor in the region may help us achieve higher productivity and economic diversification. But we have to consider a lot of things–our indigenous communities are among our concerns,” Legarda said.
Aside from protecting their traditional and intellectual property, Legarda said the IPs should be socially and economically empowered.
“Basic services, including access to education and healthcare, should be provided to them. Most indigenous communities are located in isolated and disadvantaged areas,” Legarda said.
”We must create a system that would enhance delivery of basic, social, technical and legal services,” she added.
Legarda has filed Senate Bill No. 2209 that will create resource centers for IPs, which shall serve as access centers to enhance delivery of these services.