In a significant stride towards advancing Indigenous Peoples' rights and nurturing the next generation of leaders, the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) conducted two consecutive capacity building activities in July 2023. These activities, held in partnership with Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Philippines Office, aimed to empower IP youth from the Bangsamoro region through immersive experiences and leadership training.


Twelve promising Indigenous youth hailing from Higaonon, Lambangian, and Teduray communities in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) embarked on a one-day immersion experience in the Talaandig community located in Lantapan, Bukidnon. Guiding them through this enlightening journey was Datu Migketay Victorino “Datu Vic” Saway, the esteemed tribal chieftain of the Talaandig people and a prominent advocate for IP rights.


Datu Vic's words resonated deeply with the participants as he emphasized the vital role of a leader as a peacekeeper, underlining the significance of conflict resolution rather than causing strife. Moreover, he stressed the profound connection that leadership must maintain with the ancestors and spiritual heritage of the tribe. Throughout the immersion, the IP youth were exposed to the Talaandig community's resolute efforts in asserting their rights, preserving their cherished traditions through youth and women leadership, arts and crafts, and advocating for their community amid the complexities brought about by modernization.


The encounter with Datu Vic, his family, the Talaandig Council of Elders, and youth leaders left an indelible impression on the participants, who expressed heartfelt gratitude to the Saway family and the entire Talaandig community for imparting invaluable knowledge and wisdom.


Following this immersive experience, the 12 IP youths took part in a two-day workshop aimed at honing their skills and knowledge to emerge as effective advocates and leaders within their respective communities. Building upon the foundations laid by IAG through five leadership modules implemented from 2021 to 2022, the workshop served as a continuation of their growth journey.


IAG aims to create a dynamic and interconnected community of IP advocates, fostering an environment of immersion, networking, and experience sharing. The capacity building activities served as a testament to the transformative power of education, experience, and solidarity in driving positive change and advancing the rights of Indigenous Peoples in the Bangsamoro region and beyond. Armed with newfound knowledge and forged connections, the IP youth are now better equipped to become leaders and torchbearers for the progress and prosperity of their communities.