DOT, NCIP ink partnership to empower indigenous peoples, protect and promote cultural heritage through tourism

The Department of Tourism (DOT) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) forged a formal agreement Wednesday (Aug. 16) in a bid to create a strategic partnership between the two government bodies to support and implement the Katutubo-KAPWA project.

The Katutubo-KAPWA project is a nationwide initiative which will enjoin support for the indigenous cultural communities/indigenous peoples (ICCs/IPs) in tourism development, covering destinations and IP communities in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

 The ceremonial signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was led by DOT Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco and NCIP Chair Allen A. Capuyan, witnessed by Undersecretary and Chief of Staff Atty. Mae Elaine Bathan and NCIP Acting Bureau Director Glenda Pua at the DOT Central Office in Makati City.

“We subscribe to the belief that in honoring the origins of the Philippines and the Filipino people, we strengthen the Filipino brand, we enrich the Filipino identity, and we give our fellow Filipinos a necessary and timely reminder that there is indeed so much to love about the Philippines, and that starts with ourselves, the Filipino people, including our indigenous peoples. Which is why the Department of Tourism has sought this partnership with the NCIP because we sincerely wish to manifest our firm commitment to honoring our indigenous peoples and giving them opportunities for economic advancement through tourism,” Secretary Frasco said.

“This is a happy and historic day for both the Department of Tourism and NCIP as we have formalized our commitment to support the good work that the NCIP has done to ensure the preservation and promotion of the indigenous peoples of the Philippines,” she added.

With the DOT’s Office of Special Concerns (OSC) under the Office of the Secretary (OSEC) as lead, the Katutubo-KAPWA project also targets to address the gaps and needs of each destination such as the lack of tourism skills and competencies among IPs involved in tourism activities, and essential infrastructure, among others.

This is in line with the current administration’s thrust to diversify and equalize tourism product development, introduce multidimensional tourism, strengthen tourism governance through close collaboration with stakeholders, and improve the overall tourist experience.

A Technical Working Group (TWG) will also be created composed of representatives from DOT and NCIP to monitor and oversee its implementation.

The tourism chief likewise emphasized that the partnership is part of the current administration’s thrust toward reintroducing the Philippines to the world, with the ICCs/IPs as the starting point.

”Our indigenous communities are the vanguards of the Filipino identity. In their heritage, their history, and their living cultural traditions, we are reminded of that which we all know to be true–we all love our country. There is so much to love about the country, foremost of which is our identity as a Filipino people,” she said.

Meanwhile, NCIP Chair Capuyan said that they are grateful to the DOT for the said partnership.

“It is our honor and privilege to be partnering with the Department of Tourism in the implementation of our Katutubo-KAPWA project, which aims to involve the indigenous cultural communities and indigenous peoples in tourism development,” he said.

“We hope that this will pave the way for a more stable and secure future,” he added.

Among the important commitments of the DOT from the partnership include the provision of financial support to tourism-related capacity building/capacity development, infrastructure projects, product development, and other tourism-related programs activities, and projects to eligible and interested ICCs/IPs that will help improve their socio-economic status as well as for the development and promotion of their ancestral domains; assistance and funding for the identified tourism-related projects of the ICCs/IPs for enterprise, livelihood, and jobs creation with the support of the DOT’s attached agencies to help reduce the country’s unemployment and alleviate poverty while boosting the tourism industry.

The DOT has also committed to providing assistance and promotional platforms for the products of the ICCs/IPs to attract tourists to patronize the local tourism economy.

Secretary Frasco emphasized the importance of striking a balance between heritage and promotion as a value proposition for tourism, thus, citing as well that the DOT is excited about embarking on the partnership by investing first in soft infrastructure for IPs who are also tourism frontliners.

Likewise, the NCIP identifies the DOT as a strong partner for the protection and promotion of arts and culture components of the country as a driver toward nation-building.


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