The quest to push for the protection, conservation, enhancement, and promotion of Filipino culture in an international landscape took a step forward on August 19, 2021, with the launch of the project dubbed as ‘Intensifying the Filipino Culture towards Sustained Indigenous Peoples’ Knowledge System in Saving Natural Habitat, Landscape, and Practices through Cultural Education and Community Development’.
This CHED-funded program amounting to 38 million pesos is an initiative of the Philippine Canada Education Consortium Magic 7+ (PhilCanEDUCON Magic 7+) composed of Central Luzon State University (CLSU), Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU), Benguet State University, Central Mindanao University, Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University, Mountain Province State Polytechnic College, University of Southeastern Philippines, and the University of Saskatchewan (USask).
According to Dr. Marlowe Aquino, program lead from MMSU, this endeavor will drive the internationalization of the Magic 7+ academic programs, R&D initiatives, and partnerships among higher education institutions. He also highlighted the indigenous knowledge (IK) system and practices in agriculture, environment and natural resources, arts, and knowledge management through exchange and dissemination are covered in the project.
The components of this program include capacity buildings on IK systems and professional exchange, R&D activities to address indigenous knowledge system and cultural management (IKSCM) issues and concerns, and KM through the development of instructional materials and publications.
Present in the virtual event are Dr. Meghna Ramaswamy, Director, International Relations Office, USask and Atty. Lily Freida M. Milla, Officer-in-Charge of the Office of the Deputy Executive Director and Director for International Affairs of CHED, together with the officials of the seven participating State Universities and Colleges (SUCs).
In a message delivered, Atty. Milla commended the PhilCanEDUCON Magic 7+ for the initiatives and extended her gratitude and appreciation on behalf of CHED. “We acknowledge your efforts and commitment to the IKSCM program in the pursuit to continue various initiatives that promote accessibility, sustainability, diversity, and equity that is beneficial for all students, faculty, and staff of your institutions in these unprecedented times,” she added.
She also challenged the SUCs to make this project a hallmark of best practices on IK and how it can become the best practices of higher education projects that CHED has funded for both local and international collaboration.
After the launch, the inception meeting followed wherein all seven SUCs presented their proposed project for implementation.
CLSU, through Dr. Angeles M. de Leon, project lead and faculty at the Department of Biology, presented the project which will enable the documentation of IK on mushrooms and plants utilized by the indigenous peoples (IPs) that live in the mountainous areas of Central Luzon – the Agta and Bungkalots.
According to Dr. de leon, this research could lead to the preservation of IPs cultural heritage before it becomes extinct due to modernization as well as to the discovery and harnessing of wild mushrooms and plants with pharmacological potentials.
The launching and inception meeting, which lasted for six hours, hopes to deliver the intended goals of the program, and realize that by tracing back the Filipino culture, real development can happen in the future.