Book Review

Indigenous Earth Wisdom: A documentation of the cosmologies of the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera

By Judy Carino-Fangloy, Merci Dulawan, Vicky Macay, Maria Elena Regpala and Lucia Ruiz

Published by Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary, 2015

118 pages


Indigenous Earth WisdomIt was a pleasure reading Indigenous Earth Wisdom: A documentation of the cosmologies of the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera, put together by Judy Carino-Fangloy, Merci Dulawan, Vicky Macay, Maria Elena Regpala and Lucia Ruiz.

At UP Baguio, we are now planning an Ibaloy Studies Conference for April. We decided that the theme would be, “Surfacing Ibaloy indigenous knowledge.”  Such theme is of course presumptuous. It assumes there is such a body of knowledge that is either submerged, hidden or buried that we should discover, dig out, or unearth. The book featured this afternoon is a testament that there is such a treasure trove of knowledge. This book has, in fact, overtaken us, and perhaps rendered as redundant if not irrelevant.

Aside from the stories of currently living community elders and bearers of traditions, the book puts together in one readable volume many research findings done during the past decades.

Several of such sources are masters’ theses and doctoral dissertations by both foreign and Filipino scholars, which could otherwise be gathering dust in some library corner.

Others are old publications that have become rare and are now perhaps in private collections. Still other sources are the researches done by non-government agencies that have been initiating admirable people-centered development work in recent years.

The book gives us a sampling of local knowledge and wisdom held by the Bontok, Ibaloy, Ifugao, Kankanaey, Kalinga, and Tinggiyan, among others.

In general, the book paints a picture of indigenous peoples who live close to the earth, who commune with the unseen, and who are connected to each other in community.

The book shows us that the indigenous peoples have been dependent on the fruit and bounty of the mountains. Aside from cultivated or domesticated crops, the indigenous peoples nourished and healed themselves with wild plants and food crops, each bearing fruit in its own season.

In many ways, this shows us that indigenous peoples did not need to meddle with the genetic make-up of plants and animals to provide them with instant food or all-season fruits like Chinese pears and apples, not to mention Sagada oranges that are now produced in and travel all the way from China.

The book also demonstrates that the forests have always served as the people’s pharmacy.

It was surprising to read that the native Ibaloy mining system sagaok was meant to share gold with others, and not to amass for oneself the mineral wealth of the earth.

The book also includes many stories about nature spirits that guarded streams, rivers, hills and mountains with their own diverse flora and fauna. Reading such stories made me realize that the belief in spirits must be nature’s way to prevent the people from destroying the natural flow of rivers, and the unbridled destruction of mountains and forests.

On page 72 of the book, a story is recorded on “Appeasing the vengeance of a pinading (Kalinga), as told to Lucy Ruiz. A part of the story says upon consulting a mandadawak or community priest, “The spirit said he is a pinading in the forest whose house was totally wrecked by JB’s tractor, which killed his pregnant wife and other members of his family. To avenge their death, the spirit punished JB and eventually killed him by choking, and said this was not enough and that he would also take others. A carabao had to be offered to appease such spirit.

Republic Act No. 101211 of 2010 is the “act strengthening the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management System, providing for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Framework and Institutionalizing the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan, appropriating funds therefor and for other purposes.”

The law recognizes “indigenous knowledge systems” as one of the basic foundations of DRRM. In the law’s Declaration of Principles, it states that the law shall

(j) Ensure that disaster risk reduction and climate change measures are gender responsive, sensitive to indigenous knowledge systems, and respectful of human rights.

In a recent article “Katutubo ba sa atin and coral reef?” in his column “Kulo at kulorum,” National Artist and KWF chair Virgilio Almario (2014) talks about his unease about the use of “coral reef” in the Philippines as though it were a foreign concept.

He says in fact many language groups in the Philippines have indigenous terminologies for it because coral reefs are part of the everyday lives of many Filipinos.

Certainly “indigenous knowledge systems” are articulated in the language of the people who possess them. This book is introduces us to the rich local vocabulary in which local knowledge and wisdom are couched.

In all, the book is right in emphasizing that the indigenous principle in relation to land is “stewardship” not “ownership.” In other words, the beliefs, knowledge and wisdom related to the earth provide logic to a lifestyle that is gentle and careful in treading on earth. It is a rational way of life that is fully aware that we are simply passing through.

But what is the use of such a book in light of current emphasis on Western science and technology that has systematically denigrated indigenous knowledge?

In a post on the Internet, Fabio Y. Lee Perez (2005) reports that during the vast 2004 tsunami, the Moken indigenous people of Thailand, and of the Gunung Sitoli on Nias Island, Indonesia reported alessercases of death and injury.

Perez states that, “It is due to their knowledge and understanding of the way of nature, and their traditional resource management practices.” Lee Perez concludes, “Although our understanding of science has increased and information technologies have become intense, we have lost our human’s primary instinct of survival. We have much to learn from the keen environmental awareness that many indigenous people possess.”

In the most recent KAPWA international conference on indigenous peoples here in Baguio, one of the speakers made the statement that the future is indigenous.

On Page 4, the authors say this book “may be of interest to people who are searching for more meaningful ways of living on the earth, as an alternative to the dominant Western paradigm.”

I would say, this book on indigenous wisdom could very well be our salvation from our own destruction.



Almario, Virgilio. 2014. “Katutubo ba sa atin and coral reef?” Kulo at Kolorum. http:// kwf. gov. ph. (accessed 15 October 2014)

Judy Carino-Fangloy, Merci Dulawan, Vicky Macay, Maria Elena Regpala and Lucia Ruiz. 2015. Indigenous Earth Wisdom: A documentation of the cosmologies of the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera. Baguio: Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary.

Quebral, Nora Cruz. 2012. Development Communication Primer. Penang: Southbound.

Republic Act No. 101211. An act strengthening the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management System, providing for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Framework and Institutionalizing the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan, appropriating funds therefor and for other purposes. Congress of the Philippines. Passed by Congress on February 1, 2010, Approved by PGMA May 27, 2010.

Fabio Y. Lee Perez. Survival Tactics of Indigenous People.Spring 2005. 15 October 2014)

The Baguio We Want

(Declaration of the Baguio Peoples' Summit, UP Baguio, February 25, 2015)


We, the people of Baguio want a city where residents’ wellbeing is paramount, where governance is built on genuine consultation with and active and continuous participation of the people.

We want a city where our duly elected leaders have sustained engagement with the people and where that engagement results in the passing and implementation of laws and policies that will benefit the city.

We want a city where the people from all levels have strong community spirit and the ability to bring about change in our own neighborhoods.

We want a rational urban plan and healthy environment.

We want a city that is an educational hub and not merely a tourist destination.

We, in our individual and organizational capacities commit to participate in collective efforts to bring about the much-needed transformation. We commit to begin with ourselves and our lifestyles.

We commit to critically engage the government and make our voices heard in the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of projects.

We commit to participate in creating our local history and enriching our unique cultures and heritage.

We commit to protect and nurture our natural environment which is vital to our well-being and the generations to come.

We commit to unifying our various advocacies and support each other’s efforts for the Baguio we want.

We commit to support and elect the leaders who embody the ideals we seek for the betterment of our city.


Baguio Peoples' Summit: The Baguio We Want

February 25, 2015

UP Baguio Bulwagang Juan Luna


Photo credit: Karlo Altamonte



iNima, 2

iNima, 2 PosterSanctuary Gallery


iNima,an exhibition of linocut prints by Leonard Aguinaldo opens at the Sanctuary Gallery, Maryknoll, Baguio City on March 7, 2015 at 4 p.m.

The prints in this exhibition form part of a continuing series of works that show Aguinaldo’s impressions of montane life on the Northern Philippine Cordillera and of the various aspects of highland cultures. This set of prints which began 15 years ago, he says,“is an ongoing documentation of the life ways of highland peoples juxtaposed with the changes that technology and development have ushered in.”Thus, his exhibition title conveys both the link and contrast between “hi-tech” and “low-tech” (iNima, literally, made by hand in Iloko language; iNima is a play on words and formed like the ubiquitous “iPad”)

The rich imagery in Aguinaldo’s works reflect the “intensity and coherence of his work.”His use of indigenous iconography is nuanced by a profound sensitivity to the importance of honoring the integrity of cultures. His concepts and imagery are informed by solid research and he says are the “inevitable result of my own understanding and imagination – drawn from books, archival photographs, other printed materials and conversations with people from which these series of works have come to life.”

Aguinaldo has received several awards and citations in the past 15 years. These include a Thirteeen Artists Award from the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 2003, grand prize ASEAN Art Award in Bangkok, 2004, Top Five Jurors’ Choice in the 2003Philippines/ASEAN Art Awards, and Special Selection, Sea Art Festival, 2002 Busan Biennale, Korea. He has exhibited in Baguio, Manila, and in cities in countries like Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea, Singapore, France, Australia, and the USA.

The exhibition runs until May 24, 2015. The Sanctuary Gallery is located at the Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary, Campo Sioco, Baguio City. For inquiries, write to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 0915-655-5745 * (Erlyn Ruth Alcantara)






March 7, Saturday, 4 p.m.

Three events at the Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary, Campo Sioco: opening reception of iNima, an exhibition of linocut prints by Leonard Aguinaldo at the Sanctuary Gallery; book launch of Indigenous Earth Wisdom, and a special live music performance by Bobby Carantes and Glenmoore Makie of songs in Ibaloy from their new CD entitled Ikul. For information, call (074) 424-5745/0915-655-5745.


Caption to photo/image: “Lesles,” Thanks giving Feast. This linocut print by Leonard Aguinaldo forms part of the exhibition iNima, opening at the Sanctuary Gallery, Maryknoll Eco Sanctuary, Campo Sioco on March 7, 2015 at 4 p.m. 


New Publication: "Indigenous Earth Wisdom"

Indigenous Earth WisdomPRESS RELEASE


Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary (MES) is proud to announce the release of a book entitled "Indigenous Earth Wisdom". This book is the product of several years of research and documentation on the cosmologies of the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera.

Stories from indigenous elders, shamans, men, women and youth are collected in this volume. From these stories can be gleaned a wisdom which has been passed down through generations, on how to live simply in harmony with nature, with the "unseen", and in community.

A key message is that the indigenous wisdom of the Cordillera peoples are valuable and hold special relevance for contemporary times. The book challenges the popular misconception that indigenous knowledge is backward and inferior. The book is a repository of examples of deep knowledge and wise practices on sustainable living, badly needed in this age of climate change and ecological crisis.

The book was written by a team of writers-researchers, Judy Cariño- Fangloy, Merci Dulawan, Vicky Macay, Maria Elena Regpala, and Lucia Ruiz. The public is invited to the book launch on March 7, 4pm, at the Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary (MES). The book is now available at MES and in selected bookstores.




Yaring Kamay 4

Yaring Kamay 4 brings together artisans from Baguio, Benguet, La Union and weavers from Aklan, Kalinga, Mountain Province, and Ilocos Sur.

The works in this exhibition show creative productions that use a variety of materials and are crafted by hand using techniques and designs that have taken years to master. Yaring Kamay 4 will run until February 28, 2015.

Handcrafted objects that serve functional and decorative purposes have become an accessible art form. Some artisanal work, like weaving, carving, and basket making in Northern Luzon keep its weavers, carvers, and basket makers producing on an “as-needed” basis year-round.1 This meets the domestic demand for objects used in ceremonial occasions as well as for daily use: like baskets to carry crops, carry rice to wedding celebrations; loom-woven fabric to make blankets, wrap skirts, or garments for death rituals; bamboo instruments to play during ceremonies; or a gusi (stoneware jar) to hold rice beer during weddings.

Works by other artisans – in stoneware pottery, handmade paper, shifu weaving, and stone and wood craft – exhibit how current creative productions can be drawn from age-old technology.

The artisans participating in this exhibition use different materials drawn from nature – clay, bamboo, rattan, plant fiber and pulp, reclaimed wood, and stone. They make new forms, create designs, and craft objects that bring to light a distinctive style unique to its maker. They are sometimes experimental or playful yet still refined and precise.

The challenges facing artisans today do not make it easy for them to keep at their craft. Raw materials – like rattan, cotton thread, clay, bamboo, wood, fiber plants and others are becoming more difficult to source and acquire.

Many artisans can only produce in limited numbers since they usually have other jobs they cannot give up because these provide for their daily household needs. They are farmers, vegetable gardeners, carpenters, small-scale miners, office employees, and others.

For small, backyard weaving operations, income from products developed as souvenirs and “indigenous mementos”2 are dependent on the highly seasonal tourist market and ever-shifting consumer tastes. Lucrative sources of income like gold-panning or the wagwag (secondhand clothing) trade have also drawn away many of our best artisans in the Cordillera region of northern Philippines.

Fortunately there are still many artisans who find ways to continue their craft, knowing that being able to produce a beautiful and functional object is ultimately its own reward.

The first Yaring Kamay exhibition organized by the Baguio Arts Guild was held in December 1988 at the Hyatt Terraces Baguio. The Sanctuary Gallery continued to hold the craft show with Yaring Kamay 2 and 3 in 1999 and 2000.

Through these exhibitions, the Sanctuary Gallery aims contribute in the effort towards making artisanal work vibrant and sustainable by providing a venue for artisans to exhibit their works and to connect them with viewers who genuinely appreciate and value their work. (ERLYN RUTH ALCANTARA, 11 November 2014)


1Albert Bacdayan,  “Baskets among the Tanulong and Fidelisan Peoples of Northern Sagada,” Basketry of the Luzon Cordillera, Philippines, LA: UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, 1998, p. 46-47; B. Lynne Milgram, “Making and Marketing Contemporary Baskets in Ifugao Province, Northern Luzon,” op. cit., p. 53

2Milgram, Ibid.