Publisher apologizes, CAR congressmen file resolution condemning flawed portrayal of Igorots in textbooks
After the Department of Education’s response and action over a public outrage because of discriminatory descriptions of Igorots in books, modules and other learning resources, a publisher followed suit and apologized for the erroneous printing of a portion of a Kindergarten Textbook entitled, Masayang Buhay (Binagong Edisyon) depicting the Indigenous Peoples of the Cordillera as having dark and curly hair. This is only one of the various learning materials discovered by Igorots themselves which went viral on social media instigating anger among IPs in the region, around the country and the whole world.
Representative Maximo Y. Dalog, Jr. of the lone district of Mountain Province earlier expressed apprehension, frustration and annoyance in the portrayal and description of Igorots as having dark and curly hair, looking differently from the Filipino majority in terms of appearance, fashion, attire and capacity to finish a sound education and immediately called the attention of Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones. The Department of Education has since apologized particularly the DepEd Division and the region where another discriminative learning material originated. The DepEd Central Office said it has already introduced an error watch and promised that it will hire a third-party quality assurance team in one major university in the country to help in the swift correction of these errors.
In a letter to Dalog, Ms. Ruth Valerie Catabijan, Vice President of St. Matthew’s Publishing said the book in question was published in 2001 and has long been out of print and was withdrawn from circulation. She added that subsequent publications of Masayang Buhay (Binagong Edisyon) previously authored by Dr. Felicidad Remo and Ms. Avelina Espelita which were released in 2004, 2009 and 2016 already contain modifications of the section of the issue being raised.
Meanwhile, congressmen from the Cordillera Administrative Region led by Representative Allen Jesse C. Mangaoang of Kalinga, who also chairs the House Committee on Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous Peoples, filed a resolution condemning the erroneous portrayal of Igorots in textbooks, learning modules and instructional materials and directed the Department of Education to make a thorough review of all textbooks, learning modules and instructional materials and to correct any text which depict in a discriminatory manner Igorots and IPs.
The resolution also asked the DepEd to instruct the authors and publishers of these materials to withdraw them from circulation in order to stop the discrimination and misleading information about Igorots. Mangaoang filed the resolution along with Representatives Maximo Y. Dalog, Jr.-Lone District, Mountain Province; Eric Go Yap-ACT-CIS Party List and Legislative Caretaker, Lone District, Benguet; Solomon R. Chungalao-Lone District, Ifugao and Elias C. Bulut, Jr.-Lone District, Apayao.
In House Resolution No. 1552 filed on February 8, 2021, the Cordilleran lawmakers cited Section 31 of Republic Act 8371 otherwise known as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act which endeavors to have the dignity and diversity of the cultures, traditions, histories and aspirations of the ICCs/IPs appropriately reflected in all forms of education, public information and cultural-educational exchange. The IPRA law also provides that the state shall take effective measures, in consultation with ICCs/IPs concerned, to eliminate prejudice and discrimination and to promote tolerance, understanding and good relations among ICCs/IPs and all segments of society.
The CAR congressmen said such portrayal and depiction of Igorots have immeasurably alarmed, offended and annoyed the people in the Cordillera. “Because of incorrect information about Igorots, they continue to suffer discrimination and if not immediately corrected, erroneous notion of mainstream Filipinos about Igorots or the IPs of the Cordillera Region will be perpetuated and may result in further discrimination and abuse,” they said.
As the institution of basic education in the country, the resolution specified it is the responsibility of the Department of Education to ensure that textbooks, instructional materials, and learning modules provide accurate information. “It should be the policy of DepEd to help in creating awareness of the Indigenous Peoples’ identity and culture and be a part of the system that corrects the misleading notion on IPs rather than perpetuating and tolerating them,” the resolution added. **Erlindo Agwilang, Jr.