The Philippine archipelago is home to a diverse number of ethnic groups. These different ethnic groups have populated the islands since the first people arrived over 30,000 years ago. Many of the larger indigenous ethnic groups, such as the Tagalogs, Visayas and Moros adopted the ways of the Western and Islamic world through years of trade and colonization. There were, however, other indigenous ethnic groups that were never heavily influenced by the outside world and managed to keep their traditions, customs and in some cases their writing systems intact. Today, there are 110 recognized indigenous groups remaining in the Philippines making up ten percent of the total population.
Despite having held onto their way of life for many generations, the last decade has brought about a myriad of changes, both socially and economically for these indigenous groups. This rapidly changing environment as lead to the gradual loss of centuries old customs and culture. Witnessing these changes first hand and knowing that very little visual documentation has been done with these groups an idea was born to create this project, the Katutubong Filipino Project. Katutubo is the Tagalog word for “native” or “indigenous,” combined with Filipino to collectively mean the “Indigenous Filipino Project.” The aim of this project is to bring about awareness by collecting stories and images of these disappearing cultural heritages before their way of life is lost forever. The Katutubong Filipino Project focuses on the nine main regional indigenous subgroups including the Ati, Badjao, Igorot, Ilongots, Lumad, Mangyan, Tumandok, Negritos of Luzon and the Palawan tribes.
The Katutubong Filipino Project aims to bring about awareness of the Philippine archipelago’s indigenous peoples’ by visually documenting their slowly disappearing cultural heritages.
How it started
The Katutubong Filipino Project was conceptualized while Jacob and his wife were doing a documentary on the Agta people of Isabela Province. It was during their time in Isabela that they realized more needed to be done to help promote and educate people about the different indigenous groups throughout the Philippine Archipelago. Six months later the Katutubong Filipino Project was officially started after running a successful Kickstarter campaign. The funds raised through Kickstarter provided enough resources for a year and a half of work visiting and documenting the different indigenous groups around the country. Today the project is on-going with documentaries being produced when resources become available.
A large component of this project is to help educate the general public about the reality of their indigenous brothers and sisters. Some of the outreach we have already done or plan to carry out includes exhibits, books, print and online media, and university seminars. We are optimistic that our outreach campaigns are helping to change the perception and attitude often portrayed towards the indigenous groups of the Philippines. We also try to inspire indigenous people themselves by helping to showcase the beauty and depth of their culture.
Our original Kickstarter video. Katutubong Filipino Project: Vanishing Indigenous Cultures.