Young Lumad artists promote culture, environmental protection thru arts

Aug. 10, 2023

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A group of young people from an indigenous community is maximizing its members’ artistic talents to revive and preserve their traditional practices and promote environmental protection.

The Pasukadoy IP (Indigenous People) Arts Group wants to portray the relationship between their tribes and the environment through paintings. It aims to narrate the story of their ancestors and encourage the youth to value their ancestral land and environment.

“Ang next generation makabalo siya nga ingon ani diay ang pamaagi sa una through sa amoang painting, through drawing ana then makita nila nga paunsa gyud ang nahitabo sa una kay navisualize na man nila mismo kay makita naman nila sa painting (Through our drawings, our paintings, [we want] the next generation to be aware of our traditional ways. Once they see the paintings, they can visualize what really happened in the past)”, Obu Manubo artist Marben Subuan said.

Subuan is the current head of Pasukadoy. He said art plays an important role to help younger generations visualize their own tribes’ vast history as well as make their own people appreciate the concept of their culture and tradition.

Pasukadoy means ‘unity’ of the tribes of Bagobo Tagabawa, Bagobo Klata, Obu Manobo, Ata Manobo, and Matigsalug. Its purpose is to showcase the Lumads’ (IP) talents.

“Sa amoa we wanted to translate sa mga bata karon nga nakalimtan na ang mga kadtong sinaunang tinuohan ug ang unsa gyud ang tama nga istorya about sa tribu. And then ang amoang tumong bale i-story namo sa ilaha kung unsa ang mga tinuohan na wala gisulti sa ilahang ginikanan karon. Bale retrieval lang sa history, the knowledge, the practices, and the culture (We wanted to translate that our indigenous beliefs and the real story about our tribes have been forgotten. Our goal is to tell them what those beliefs are which their parents were not able to do. We want to retrieve our history, the knowledge, the practices, and the culture),” said Agnes Cagangpang Querencia.

Querencia, a member of Pasukadoy, said arts is important in preserving the tribe’s customs and passing them down to today’s youth amidst the growing impact of social media and foreign cultures.

Through its culture-based conservation initiative, members of Pasukadoy trek mountains to reach far-flung communities and IP schools. This is one of their ways to impart their skills and encourage the youth to try art to express themselves and to send important messages to the public.

“Pagtudlo nga ang arts is something nga we can give hope sa ilaha sa diha mapagawas pud nila ang ilang kultura pinaagi sa pagpinta mabutang nila mismo sa ilang canvass (We teach arts as a way to give hope, where they can express their culture by painting on their canvas),” Subuan said.

IP Arts Festival

To better showcase the IP’s artistry, Pasukadoy has partnered with the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) to launch the Indigenous People’s Art Festival on August 21-27, 2023, in time with the city’s celebration of the Kadayawan Festival. Pasukadoy members will demonstrate their art-making process throughout the weeklong event.

“Something different with this exhibit kay naa man guy ubang exhibit nga IP attire lang ang gipakita pero kini nga exhibit ginapakita ang kultura ug tradisyon sa tribu (Something different with this exhibit because some only show the IP’s attire but with this one, we will show the tribe’s culture and tradition),” Subuan said.

Jimbea Lucino, PEF’s culture-based conservation manager, said the partnership with young IP artists is an effort to continue the campaign to protect the Philippine eagle in their ancestral domain. They aim to assist young people in developing their ability to use art as a tool for promoting biodiversity conservation and green skills.

“As you know, our program of culture-based conservation really upholds the rights of our indigenous peoples and also makes them our partners for conservation because we believe they share [the] same territory [with Philippine eagles] and so they are also the ones who really must take [care] of our Philippine eagle, our national bird,” Lucino said. (

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