The UP Open University (UPOU) Faculty of Management and Development Studies (FMDS) through its Youth For Ifugao Rice Terraces (#Y4IRT) project organized a Let’s Talk It Over (LTIO) webinar on Save the Ifugao Terraces Movement (SITMo) Initiatives for the Sustainability and Conservation of the Ifugao Rice Terraces last 26 October 2017 at the UPOU Multimedia Center Studio located in ICTO Building, University of the Philippines Diliman. The resource person for the webinar was Mr. Marlon Martin, Chief of Operations Officer of SITMo.

In his presentation, Mr. Martin emphasized that the deterioration of the IRT also reflects the diminishing indigenous knowledge and values of the Ifugao. He also discussed the current issues and concerns of IRT such as environmental and terraced landscape degradation, diminishing community values, loss of cultural identity, and diminishing number of culture bearers and indigenous knowledge holders. According to Mr. Martin, the issue of the waning of traditional knowledge in Ifugao communities results from the introduction of new religions, culture-insensitive educational system or the standardization of education, and government policies on assimilation.

He also discussed two approaches in IRT management. The first approach is the participatory and community-led management of the IRT. He shared stories of different volunteers particularly the story of Nanay Maria, a retired teacher who currently works as a tour guide in their organization. Another approach that he discussed is the collaboration with all stakeholders on all initiatives concerning the IRT -- terraces communities, government, civil society, and the academe.

Mr. Martin also discussed a particular SITMo initiative called the Nurturing Indigenous Knowledge Experts Among the Younger Generations of Ifugaos (NIKE). This initiative aims to develop community learning centers (CLCs) as a venue for indigenous knowledge (IK) transfer; utilize the CLCs for social enterprise development; and produce IRT stewards involved in ecotourism. It is funded by the National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan (NFUAJ). NIKE already conducted four phases. The first phase mainly focused on IK mapping and identification of IK holders. The second phase piloted the IK transmission at a local university. The third phase institutionalized IK transfer in consortium with the Provincial Government of Ifugao, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) Ifugao, Department of Education (DEPED) Ifugao Division and the Ifugao State University (IFSU). The fourth and last phase established CLCs in terraces communities and continued the institutionalization of IK.

As part of the LTIO Series of FMDS for the month of October, the webinar was streamed through Facebook Live. Questions and comments were encouraged from the audience and some of the comments that surfaced was a suggestion to share Mr. Martin’s video to the IFSU agriculture students. UPOU FMDS also showed appreciation to Mr. Martin through a certificate presented by Dr. Joane Serrano, Director of Information Office and Multimedia Center and Project Leader of the #Y4IRT Project. (JPBorce)