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How does Social Entrepreneurship look like when seen through the lenses of Indigenous Knowledge System and Practices (IKSP)? Last 09-11 November 2022, our Inclusive Development Team travelled to the Talaandig Ancestral Territory in Bukidnon. With the guidance of Datu Migketay Saway and of some Talaandig women and youth, we invested a couple of days seeking to design a Social Enterprise development model that would be sensitive to the worldviews, value systems, and customs of Indigenous Peoples. This is made possible in partnership with the University of the Philippines Mindanao (UP Mindanao) and the Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT).

During the opening session, I was given the privilege of sharing the importance of Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) framework in Social Entrepreneurship.

PAR-framed social entrepreneurial initiatives

We use the Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Framework through which we look at various aspects of transformation. From our peacebuilding perspective, social enterprise is a business that makes profit and at the same time contribute to genuine harmonious transformations:

The social entrepreneurs’ being, energized by the Four Harmonies, usually determines a person’s doing, which determines what one will be having.

Social Enterprise in the context of IKSP

A social enterprise is a business that puts the interests of people, peace, progress, partnership, and planet ahead of shareholder gain. This business is driven by a social or environmental mission and reinvest profits into creating positive social change.

Our operating definition of Indigenous Knowledge System and Practices (IKSP) is borrowed from, and influenced by, Dr. Leni Diamante Camacho of the Department of Social Forestry and Forest Governance, University of the Philippines Los Baños. According to her, “indigenous knowledge is often equated or used interchangeably with the term traditional knowledge. Indigenous knowledge can be broadly defined as the knowledge that an indigenous community accumulates over generations of living in a particular environment. Traditional knowledge often refers to a more generalized expression of knowledge associating a people or peoples with ‘time-honored’ ideas and practices associated with an individual or family. This knowledge is not limited to know-how, skills, innovations, practices, processes, learning and teaching, but also includes knowledge that is associated with biodiversity, traditional lifestyles, and natural resources.”

The MSU-IIT Team, led by Dr. Jinky Bautista-Bornales (standing, middle, maroon t-shirt), poses with the Talaandig Elders after the two-day session.

Along with our partners from UP Mindanao and MSU-IIT, we’re exploring social entrepreneurship in the context of IKSP. We have been in dialogue with the Talaandig elders, with the key women leaders, and key youth leaders in this journey — with the spiritual and cultural guidance of Datu Migketay Saway and the Talaandig Tribal Elders.

We’re entering our second year in this project, which is part of a long-term sustainability and regeneration aspirations shared in the filial relationship between PBCI-CFP family and the Talaandig tribe.

Indigenous leaders direct, facilitate, and implement this project

It is inspiring to see that this long-term endeavour is actually run by Indigenous leaders.

The whole program is being directed by Sihaya Ansibod, an Erumanen Ne Menuvu woman from Carmen, North Cotabato. She is concurrently serving as CFP Vice President for Community Engagement and the PBCI Director of Field Operations.

The main lecturer and workshop facilitator is Tala Alngag Bautista. She is from the Sumacher Tribe in the Province of Kalinga. She serves as Senior Vice President of CFP.

The key participant in this entrepreneurial training is Jay Manpatilan, a member of the Higaonon traditional leadership clan and married to Aduna Saway, a member of the Talaandig traditional leadership clan. It was Jay who first inquired and initiated the dialogue between PBCI-CFP IncluDev Team and his group of young entrepreneurial aspirants in Bukidnon.

Bai Liza Saway represents the women and the Talaandig Council of Elders. Her vision is to establish a community-based social business that would bring their adlai wine, lutia (taro) products, coffee, arts and crafts into the mainstream market.

A generous statement of affirmation

This particular session of the multi-year Social Entrepreneurial Training Program was highlighted by the feedback of Bai Irene Saway, Officer-In-Charge and Cultural Master of the Talaandig School of Living Tradition. In a statement she posted on my Facebook page last 12 November 2022, she wrote: “To Pastor Dann Pantoja, Ma’am Joji Pantoja, Ma’am Tala, Ma’am Sihaya and the rest of your team, and of course the MSU-IIT team: In behalf of my community, the Talaandigs of Tulugan, Songco, Lantapan, Bukidnon, I would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to you all for sharing to us your knowledge and expertise in Social Entrepreneurship. We will be forever grateful and thankful to you for “bringing the university” to the Talaandig community. May God grant you good health for you to continue to share your knowledge and expertise, not only to the Talaandigs, but to all tribes in our beloved country, the Philippines. May Magbabaya God bless us.”

Bai Irene Saway: “We will be forever grateful and thankful to you for ‘bringing the university’ to the Talaandig community.“

We are indeed grateful to Apu Magbabaya, our Creator-God, for the privilege of journeying with the Talaandig First Nation in this journey towards Inclusive Development through Social Entrepreneurial initiatives.