Written by Sharmaine B. Cacal
With the advent of the technological era and the rise of commercialism, the hopes for environmental awareness and continuity of indigenous identity is slowly dying down. Young people of today’s generation are immersed in the digital world, neglecting their responsibilities as environmental stewards and that is the harsh truth.
Last August 2023, a concerned Ikalahan youth leader organized an activity called Intergenerational Tongtongan (dialogue) for the Continuity of Ikalahan Heritage with the support of Asia Pacific Evaluation Association – APEA and NTFP-EP Asia. As indigenous youth, we are viewed to be agents of change as well as culture bearers with the hopes of continuing our rich culture, to honor our elder’s works and give respect to our ancestral land.
But how can that be possible when we don’t practice our indigenous lifeways? Most of us are environmental warriors in different social media platforms but we lack in many ways in applying it in real life. The intergenerational dialogue became a perfect avenue to exercise our right to self-determination and plan for the future we want; to craft a roadmap that will lead us to a future where we continue the Ikalahan identity and the legacy of our elders. Through this activity, we are taught how to take accountability of our actions, that our actions can either lead to negative and positive consequences. We, Ikalahan youth, have listed numerous plans for our future as culture bearers but it takes a lot of collective effort to make it happen. The dialogue we had with our elders gave us assurance that we are all in this together, that our elders had our back, and that they are with us as we reach this future we all want. Our elders are very eager to teach us their ways, tell us our community’s stories and for us to have an in-depth view as to why Kalahan Educational Foundation is recognized locally and internationally.
As the Sangguniang Kabataan elections (Youth Council elections) is close at hand, we want to encourage our aspiring youth leaders to craft platforms where young people, especially indigenous youth, would learn to be a better stewards of the environment. Let us not solely focus on sports and recreational activities but to also take a huge step towards stewardship of the environment. Surely, such activities will not just benefit our generation of today but also the succeeding generations. So, let us pause and ask ourselves, “Am I a part of generation worth remembering?”. Do you want to be called “naamad dap-ullan” or “nabahkol di dap-ullan” (a Kalanguya-Ikalahan term for a person who have aged without making an impact to his/her community)?
The activity ended with an emotional prayer from one of our elders because once again, hope is found in our Ikalahans youth. As indigenous youth, we take pride in this kind of activity because it is us who will continue the legacy and responsibility our elders have passed down to us.
Visit the IKAYO – Ikalahan Youth Facebook page.