A senior administration solon has sought a congressional inquiry into the “wrongful portrayals” of the Igorots in self-learning instructional materials distributed for home study to students despite having been withdrawn or corrected by the Department of Education.
Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Luis Lloren Cuaresma filed House Resolution No. 1601 urging the House of Representatives to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation, even as she noted that the 1987 Constitution mandates the state to take effective measures to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against indigenous peoples.
“Despite the claims of the officials of the Department of Education that the learning materials containing the defamatory and wrongful portrayals of the Igorots have already been withdrawn from circulation and were not distributed to students, it is still imperative to respond to it and immediately correct the same,” said Cuaresma, a senior member of the House Committee on Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous Peoples.
Igorots comprise the indigenous peoples of the Cordilleras in northern Luzon. They belong to various ethnolinguistic groups like Isneg, Ibaloy, Kalinga, Bontoc, Ifugao, Kalanguya and Kankanaey.
Early last month, the DepEd came under fire on social media for allowing the circulation of a learning module that tended to humiliate Igorots.
In one module, Igorots were described as having dark, curly hair. In another, students were asked to respond whether hypothetical questions making Igorots as examples are right or wrong.
One question stated: “HIndi ako makikipaglaro sa aking kaklasing Igorot dahil iba ang kanyang pananamit. “I will ot play with my Igorot classmate because his clothes are different” In another situation, students are asked to respond: “Nakita mong tinutukso ng kaklase mo ang isang batang Igorot dahil sa kanyang anyo. (You saw your classmates teasing an Igorot child because of his looks.)”
Mountain Province Rep. Maximo Dalog wrote a letter to DepEd protesting the contents of the modules. This promptedSecretary Leonor Briones to immediately order the recall of the questioned learning materials.
In HR 1601, Cuaresma strongly condemned “the wrongful portrayals” of the Igorots in the learning modules and instructional materials.
“The said incident is only one of those instances where Igorots and members of the indigenous cultural communities are being portrayed incorrectly on account of their attire and physical appearance,” said Cuaresma who is also a member of the House Committee on Basic Education.
“As an institution responsible for promoting and improving the quality of basic education, it is the responsibility of DepEd to generate greater awareness about the culture of the Igorots and the members of the indigenous cultural communities in general, in order to debunk any misconception about, and to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against them,}” she stressed.
The former Nueva Vizcaya governor stated: “The DeEd should establish and endeavor to provide strong mechanisms and control to assure the quality of self-learning modules that are being distributed to the students in order to prevent learning module mishaps.”