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National Indigenous People’s Thanksgiving Day – October 29, 2023

National Indigenous People’s Thanksgiving Day is observed on October 29 every year in the Philippines. It is a day to honor and promote the hundreds of thousands of indigenous peoples who live in the Philippines archipelagos’ highlands. The day honors all indigenous people in the country who have been granted civil and human rights. The indigenous peoples of the Philippines are valiant people who, despite their traditional customs, were able to resist colonization by both Spanish and American conquerors who overran the Philippines archipelago’s lowlands. Please join us in calling for equal rights for these individuals.

History of National Indigenous People’s Thanksgiving Day

The popular Republic Act enacted by President Fidel V. Ramos in 1997 sparked the first commemoration of National Indigenous People’s Thanksgiving Day. This act recognized and supported the rights of all indigenous peoples in the Philippines, as well as allowing them to control their affairs. Four years later, the Philippines’ new president decided to create a whole day dedicated to acknowledging indigenous peoples and providing them with government support — an act based on the Republic Act. The president proclaimed October 29, 2003, as the National Indigenous People’s Thanksgiving Day and the same day every year thereafter. To further bolster her commitment to ensuring fair treatment for indigenous peoples, the president confirmed another proclamation that designated October as National Indigenous People’s Month. All this goes to show the president’s support for the highlanders.

The indigenous peoples of the Philippines who include the Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, and many others have seen marginalization, dispossession, and many other forms of unfair treatment by the Philippines’ government even after the country gained independence in 1946. In simple terms, they have been oppressed by the lowlanders (Filipinos) who see them as uncivilized and not worthy of enjoying the privileges that come with the developing world. Their oppression began from the time many of them dared to oppose the Spanish rule of the 19th century. When the Americans took over control of the country through the early 20th century, these segregational treatments still thrived. However, as has been noted, later in the 20th and early in the 21st centuries, governments have strived to ensure a reasonable level of fair treatment for all the indigenous peoples.

Gradually, we believe as the day’s observation proceeds through the years, the indigenous peoples will enjoy more equal treatment.

National Indigenous People’s Thanksgiving Day timeline

1987
Rights of Indigenous Cultural Communities

The rights of Indigenous Cultural Communities within the concept of national unity and development are recognized.

1997
The Republic Act

The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (I.P.R.A.) is signed into law by President Ramos.

2003
National Indigenous People’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation

President Gloria signs Proclamation No. 486, declaring October 29 as National Indigenous People’s Thanksgiving Day.

2009
National Indigenous People’s Month Proclamation

Proclamation No. 1906, declaring October as National Indigenous People’s Month is signed by President Gloria.

National Indigenous People’s Thanksgiving Day FAQs

What race is an indigenous person?

An indigenous person has a strong tie to their ancestral and cultural norms and values and refuses to assimilate other cultures into theirs.

What makes a person Indigenous?

‘Indigenous’ describes any group of people native to a specific region. In other words, it refers to people who lived there before colonists or settlers arrived, defined new borders, and began to occupy the land.

What is the problem of indigenous peoples in the Philippines?

The most marked problem of Filipino indigenous people is the lack of appropriation of basic human rights, such as rights to proper healthcare, education, and non-representation in national affairs.

How to Observe National Indigenous People’s Thanksgiving Day

  1. Visit some indigenous peoples

    Observe this day by traveling to the highland and meeting the lovely indigenous peoples there. Don't forget to take photographs.

  2. Read the history of the Philippines' indigenous people

    If you don't know much about them, today is a good day to try doing that. Look up some archival documents and get yourself informed about those resilient people.

  3. Campaign for more autonomy to indigenous people

    Another way to observe this day is to advocate for more recognition and freedom for indigenous peoples in the Philippines. Indigenous peoples help protect our environment, fight climate change, and build resilience to natural disasters, yet their rights aren’t always protected.

5 Facts About Indigenous Peoples You Should Know

  1. They are found everywhere

    Indigenous peoples are found in about 90 countries and have a total population of around 476 million.

  2. They rarely control their lands

    Indigenous peoples mostly do not govern their lands and are governed by their country's central government.

  3. They are prone to poverty

    Indigenous peoples have more tendency to be poor as compared to other groups of people.

  4. They are environmental conservators

    Indigenous peoples mostly strive to conserve and protect their natural environments.

  5. They have a low lifespan

    The life expectancy of indigenous peoples is 20 years lower than that of non-indigenous peoples.

Why National Indigenous People’s Thanksgiving Day is Important

  1. It shows originality

    Indigenous people are perfect examples of a human group that has maintained their roots and defied contamination by other foreign cultures. Indigenous peoples own, occupy, or use a quarter of the world's surface area, and they protect 80% of the remaining biodiversity.

  2. It is cultural

    One of the purposes of the day's observation is to allow all indigenous peoples in the Philippines to showcase and practice their cultural heritage without any government hindrance. Celebrating our differences, as well as our common interests, helps unite and educate us.

  3. It promotes equity

    National Indigenous People’s Thanksgiving Day promotes equitable treatment for all inhabitants of the Philippines, such that each group is given what they require the most. This fosters respect and open-mindedness for other cultures.

National Indigenous People’s Thanksgiving Day dates

YearDateDay
2023October 29Sunday
2024October 29Tuesday
2025October 29Wednesday
2026October 29Thursday
2027October 29Friday

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