PLDT and its wireless arm Smart Communications Inc. (Smart) are enabling indigenous communities to revive lost traditions amid the scourge of the pandemic. In a recent two-day workshop, PLDT and Smart helped indigenous communities in Kalilangan, Bukidnon celebrate their unique heritage through bead-making, helping regain their cultural identity and create livelihood opportunities.

Facilitated by the Tigwahanun artisans of San Fernando, Bukidnon, youth and leaders from the Higaonon, Manobo, and Maranao tribes rekindled their passion for the heirloom craft, as they revisited how to create beautiful, beaded accessories. The workshop also included training on basic digital skills, where participants learned about the role of photography and online marketing in promoting and selling their beaded jewelry online.

The workshop is part of a broad program of PLDT and Smart to leverage digital technologies to improve the lives and livelihood of its communities such as farmers and fisherfolk, Indigenous Cultural Communities, and MSMEs and usher them into the digital economy.

The art of beadwork, traditionally crafted by the tribes in Bukidnon, has been a dying practice within the Kalilangan IP community.

“Our elders used to create these beautiful beadworks in the past, but they lost their confidence due to discrimination and we eventually lost the tradition,” said Indigenous People (IP) youth leader Jun Mark Suguipit of the Manobo tribe.

Suguipit said, “As a youth leader, I am happy that I have a role to play in preserving our culture. When we go back to our respective communities, we will teach the other IP members, so we can sustain our learnings from the workshop.”

Trainer Cresilda Solin-ay encouraged the trainees to own their culture and be proud of it. “Our culture bears significance in the identity of Bukidnon. We should not forget where we came from,” she shared.

The training will also provide better livelihood opportunities for the tribes. “The IPs have also been affected by the COVID-19 health crisis. The bead-making workshop will benefit the community as an additional source of livelihood amid the pandemic,” said Municipal IP representative Hon. Mirimbae Barazar. “Social media and the internet will be a big help to the IP community, especially with public movement restrictions due to the ongoing pandemic.”

She also expressed her gratitude to PLDT and Smart for supporting their initiative. “We are really thankful for the opportunity to help our youth and tribal leaders and for the respect given for our culture. We hope the Magbabaya (Creator) will reward you for your help,” she added.

PLDT and Smart have been supporting IP communities throughout the years with programs aimed to preserve and enrich their unique culture, and initiatives that open economic opportunities for their communities. With the coronavirus pandemic disrupting how we live, PLDT and Smart are committed more than ever to help the public they serve so they may survive and thrive in the new normal.

PLDT and Smart’s livelihood programs are aligned with the commitment to support the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), particularly SDG #1: No Poverty, and SDG #8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.