Dried Algae

ILOILO City – Do you know that dried lumot (algae) is used by indigenous communities in Panay Island to prevent postpartum infections?

They also use linta (leech) to suck blood from boils and other skin and tissue infections.

Some species of flora and fauna found in Panay Island have been used by indigenous peoples (IPs) for medicinal purposes.

These are some of the highlights of the extensive research of state universities and colleges (SUCs) in Western Visayas to document and promote various traditional knowledge systems in the region.

This collaboration culminated in the creation of a book on Panay-Guimaras traditional knowledge systems launched yesterday at the University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) to mark the Indigenous Peoples Day.

One of the highpoints of this book, From the Seas to the Mountain — Panay-Guimaras Traditional Knowledge Systems, is the spread on “health and wellness from the sea.” It enumerates Panay’s flora and fauna that IPs found to have medicinal value.

Abara, or burnt spotted deer antler, for example, is used to take out venom from insects and dog bites.

Snake skin is used as liniment while balingkokok, a species of forest snail, is used to fight off stress.

“It is important for government agencies, both national and local, to help preserve these practices, even while such set of traditional knowledge, among others, is being promoted,” said Sen. Loren Legarda who led the book launching.

From the Seas to the Mountain features the indigenous knowledge, best practices on sustainable development and environmental conservation, and traditional belief systems of the provinces in Western Visayas.

It is a collaboration of UPV, Guimaras State University, Aklan State University, Capiz State University, West Visayas State University, and University of Antique.

“Our IPs are our greatest environmentalists and peacekeepers. For them, everything is interrelated, such that the people, their land, and their nature are one and inseparable,” said Legarda.

From the Seas to the Mountain puts into perspective how traditional knowledge systems of indigenous groups, scholars and members of the academe, and public and private leaders can help protect and preserve humanity’s balance with nature – especially in light of new challenges and threats brought about by climate change and environmental degradation.

The book’s five major themes provide context to the importance of traditional knowledge systems in protecting and nurturing this balance. These are:

(1) Forest and Biodiversity

(2) Water Bodies and the Coastal Environment

(3) Arable and Habitable Terrains

(4) Sustainable Arts and Crafts, and

(5) Environmental Rituals and Traditions

The book can be a reference for public and private sector leaders and stakeholders on how to protect and conserve the environment, natural resources, and ecosystems towards attaining cultural resilience and sustainable development within communities.

“It is my hope that we could encourage Filipinos to learn more about our indigenous roots through publications such as this Panay-Guimaras book on traditional knowledge systems,” said Legarda.

From the Seas to the Mountain is in line with the government’s efforts to come up with a comprehensive documentation of IPs under the Philippine Indigenous Peoples Ethnographies (PIPES) Project of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, which seeks to gather data from all IP groups with respect to their count, location, socioeconomic conditions, and their traditional and indigenous knowledge, systems, and practices.

Legarda also stressed the importance of the IP Day Celebration.

“The Indigenous Peoples Day is not only an excellent opportunity to highlight the rich and vibrant culture of our IPs but also serves as a constant reminder for all of us to ensure that we provide the needed support for our IPs to strengthen their part in nation-building,” said Legarda./PN

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