CONTINUING THE LEGACY OF OUR INDIGENOUS ELDERS
Short for “Nurturing Indigenous Knowledge Experts,” the NIKE program was an intervention we made from 2006 to 2012 to arrest the deterioration of the Philippine Rice Terraces World Heritage Site (WHS), which was then in the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger. One of the identified causes of the site’s physical decline was the loss of indigenous knowledge (IK) and its transmission systems. It was a key result area in the 2003-2012 Conservation Plan of the WHS. The project first aimed at nurturing a core group of young indigenous knowledge (IK) holders who would continue long-held indigenous knowledge systems and practices (IKSP) related to rice terraces sustainability. This young group would then serve as the link to the next generation.
It turned out that the core group of IK bearers that we wanted to nurture as connectors of knowledge have become us, the young ones then who worked on this project. In recent years, almost all our elders who we have sought for knowledge and wisdom have passed on. They advised us both in content and manner. One by one we watched them go. We take comfort that they have seen us work towards the continuation of knowledge. But what we realized today is that we have become the repositories of knowledge. We have become the elders. Some of the younger ones who involved themselves in this project went ahead, too. We honor them as we keep our knowledge alive and useful.
THE PROGRAMME THEN
Funded by the National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan (NFUAJ), the project worked on the transfer of both oral and recorded knowledge through the:
- mapping of resources;
- construction of information bases by training a core of young knowledge holders and developing an accessible central databank of recorded knowledge;
- development of knowledge transmission systems through curricula development and community knowledge management centers, and;
- production of knowledge resources by increasing the number of knowledge holders/teachers among the younger generation and further developing appropriate teaching tools.
It was conceptualized by the local NGO (SITMO), which partnered with academia (IFSU) in Phase 2. NIKE was envisioned to grow into a programme wherein each participating institution will have finally adopted the initiatives introduced by this project as part of their regular functions in their role as transmission links or systems. This major intervention was introduced in Phase 3 when the project included three other agencies.
With its goal to realize IK transmission through both formal and informal means, NIKE was the first attempt to coordinate different project activities based on available competencies and functions of different offices. During its third phase from 2009 to 2010, the Provincial Government coordinated the consortium. It was during this phase that we also made sure that IK education was included as a mandate of IFSU under Republic Act 9720.
OUT OF THE WORLD HERITAGE “IN DANGER” LIST
In 2011, IFSU published the first version of the NIKE textbook-workbook, which was authored by faculty members from the different departments. It had been in use since the school year of 2012 through an elective course and in general education subjects. Relevant IK topics found in the book like indigenous laws are integrated in political science subjects. Indigenous biodiversity conservation practices were also integrated into forestry and related subjects. At that time, with SITMo organizing the Community Learning Centers (CLCs) of the terrace communities, NIKE also went online to reach a broader community. The website was lodged then at the NCIP for easy handling of intellectual property rights concerns. NCIP also served as the repository of documentations performed by the team. In the fourth and final phase, IFSU took charge as the executing insitution of the NIKE programme.
Since its full blown implementation as a collaborative programme, the NIKE initiatives consistently contributed to strengthen the living dimension of the Rice Terraces management. The collaboration to build learning centers online, in academia and within the terrace communities was noted in the State of Conservation Report submitted by the State Party to the World Heritage Committee in January 2012. Later that year, the World Heritage Committee decided to remove the Philippine Rice Terraces from the list of World Heritage Site in Danger (Decision 36 COM 7A.29). That same year, the NIKE programme also concluded.
TAKING STOCK TEN YEARS AFTER
SITMo sustained its educational tourism and lifelong learning initiatives through the years. It established the Living Museum in the Nagacadan World Heritage Site which the local community manages and maintains. It is now known for its educational tourism brand and social entrepreneurship projects. IFSU is now a strong leader in the formal transfer of IK. It also came out with its second version of the textbook-workbook on IK. At the conclusion of the NIKE programme, the Department of Education was transitioning to the K-12 programme. At the same time, it was in the process of adopting the National Indigenous Peoples Education (IPEd) Policy Framework. Both redirected the finalization of the Basic Education Materials (BECs) that the local teachers authored. The consciousness to promote indigenous knowledge transmission in basic education was manifest in the initiatives on IK curricula development that the district office tried to develop in later years. The NCIP office remains an IKSP repository and the implementing agency on IK protection.
WHO WE ARE
With its old partners sustaining their IK transmission work, NIKE today maintains its online presence through a network of indigenous knowledge holders. Some of us are from the original working team now working in different areas but still expanding efforts to promote, transmit, and utilize indigenous knowledge for cultural heritage protection, environmental management, and even disaster risk reduction. This site documents our efforts and our story. We maintain this site as a living learning space on IK. Visit our blog to get insights about us, our current activities, interests, documentations and research.
Our mission is in our name. We nurture indigenous knowledge expertise among the younger generation to safeguard our Heritage,
In Ifugao mythology, Liddum, the Great Teacher gave instructions to the Earthworld on nurturing rice. This is the principle of sustainability on rice terraces management. We take this as our directive.
"I give you this rice from the Skyworld. Nurture it in the way that I have taught you, and bounty shall sustain you all year round." LIDDUM, THE GREAT TEACHER