Indigenous citizen communicators in the Philippines ready to champion climate justice
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A woman sits at a table and speaks into a microphone

Indigenous citizen communicators in the Philippines ready to champion climate justice

WACC is partnering with the Communication Foundation for Asia (CFA) to equip the Alangan-Mangyan people in the Filipino province of Mindoro as storytellers to bring their voices into the public sphere and protect their unique environment.

A long-time WACC partner, CFA was established in 1968 to promote communication tools and media products for development. Since then, it has offered training — including a WACC-supported initiative to strengthen digital media literacy among youth — to thousands of social justice advocates.

Indigenous voices seldom heard

The province of Mindoro, from the phrase mina de oro, or gold mine, sits in the Verde Island Passage. This distinct biogeographic region is a center of marine diversity and home to unique flora and fauna.

The region also houses valuable mineral deposits and thus is threatened with exploitative activities including mining and logging, says CFA Executive Director Josephine Mabanta Fenomeno.

“Indigenous people in Mindoro are strongly connected to the environment. They can present better alternatives, advocate for conservation, and share the value and beauty of biodiversity if only they have the faculty of expression and platform to share their stories,” she says.

Collage of 6 images showing people speaking, presenting and writing during a citizen journalism training in the PhilipinesBut Indigenous experiences and perspectives are rarely headline news, unless there is a national disaster, or an influencer is involved, she adds.

“The voices of the Indigenous peoples are seldom heard, their stories almost never shared.”

Training Alangan-Mangyan leaders as citizen journalists

The WACC-supported project is working to change this status quo by offering tribal leaders and elders training as citizen journalists, in a space where they can identify best practices in environmental protection and share traditional knowledge.

Telling stories about Indigenous best environmental practices “will, on the one hand, ensure that their cultural identity is integrated, respected, and preserved, and on the other hand, provide a more organic and holistic perspective,” the CFA executive director says.

The formation as citizen journalists gives the tribe access to advocacy platforms and helps them develop networks to amplify their voices for environment protection, she notes.

Through immersion activities, the project allows journalism teachers to share their experience with their students, strengthening the ripple effect of the project.

the Sustainable Development Goals graphics for goals 13 Climate Action, 15 Life on Land, and 16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions“CFA sees the necessity of guiding and mentoring Indigenous peoples to have access to various media platforms — alternative and digital — for them to be able to exercise their rights to communicate and voice their concerns.”

A participant in the citizenship journalism training run by CFA in March for members of the Alangan-Mangyan community. Photo: CFA

 


WACC works in partnership with Communication Foundation for Asia and other communication rights and sustainable development organizations worldwide through its Communication for All Program (CAP), with support from Bread for the World-Germany.

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