Identity Construction, Social Media, and Ifugao Rice Terraces Conservation of Indigenous People's Youth Through Appreciative Inquiry

Identity Construction, Social Media, and Ifugao Rice Terraces Conservation of Indigenous People's Youth Through Appreciative Inquiry

Consuelo De Luna Habito (University of the Philippines Open University, Los Banos, Philippines) and Susan Janette G. Ealdama (University of the Philippine Open University, Los Banos, Philippines)
DOI: 10.4018/IJSESD.2019100104
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Recognizing the important contribution of the indigenous people's (IP) youth towards the sustainable development and conservation of the internationally recognized Ifugao rice terraces (IRT) of the Philippines, the University of the Philippines Open University implemented a youth capacity building and exchange program among IP youth from Hungduan, Kiangan, Banaue and Mayaoyao rice terraces in the Ifugao province. The study conducted focus group discussions that included identity construction with physical co-presence and utilization of new communication technologies (NCTs) through the strengths, opportunities, aspirations, and results of an appreciative inquiry approach (SOAR). Beliefs, ethnicity and values were three key identity construction factors. Need, talent, passion, and conscience were also included among the dimensions of identity construction. These findings were subsequently used in the design and construction of training course modules customized for IP youth from the IRT using the blended-mode of learning and practical activities such as video logs and memes in NCTs.
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2. Background

The Ifugao Rice Terraces (IRT) has a total land area which covers 251,778 hectares (FAO, 2008) located within the province of Ifugao, north of the Cordillera Mountain Range of Luzon Island, Philippines. It is inhabited by the Ifugao people, one of the five ethno-linguistic groups that live within the Cordillera Mountains. The IRT is divided into 198,246 hectares (79%) of nine upland municipalities composed of extensive amphitheater stone or mud-walled rice terraces clusters, with the remaining 53,532 hectares (21%) in two municipalities in the lowlands. The culture of rice in the IRT goes hand-in-hand with the sustainable management of its surrounding grasslands, forests, swidden, cane lands (Conklin, 1980) and river systems. Through many centuries, the IRT has carefully maintained this ecological balance, reflecting the indigenous knowledge and wisdom that has been passed on from generation to generation.

From 2009 to 2014, the IRT was visited by almost half a million tourists (PSA, 2015). The influx of visitors has stretched the carrying capacity of the rice terraces, leading to deterioration of sanitation and waste management, and a surge of commercial activities and infrastructure that cater to the increased demand from mostly western or urbanized tourists. This has led to some problems such as commodification of culture, objectification of local people, declining interest in traditional practices, poor maintenance of the rice terraces, loss of cooperative labor, deforestation, water scarcity, poor land use planning, and Westernized lifestyles (SITMO, 2008). Despite the increasing numbers of tourist arrivals, the farming families of the IRT have not received any direct benefit from it. Environmental users’ fees collected by the local government units (LGUs) are used for the benefit of the tourists. These are used for building concrete paddy field walkways and signages and repair of some sections of collapsed rice terrace walls.

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