Press Release
September 8, 2015

Senate lauds indigenous people's rights champion

The Senate adopted a resolution today commending Victoria Lucia Tauli-Corpuz for being named as United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on indigenous people's rights.

Senate Resolution 568, authored by Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, was adopted in consideration of Senate Resolution 1527, authored by Sen. Loren Legarda.

Tauli-Corpuz, a Cordillera Kankana-ey tribe member, was appointed Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the UN Human Rights Council during its organizational meeting in Geneva on May 8, 2014.

A nursing graduate from the University of the Philippines, Manila and founder of the Tebtebba Foundation (Indigenous People's International Center for Policy Research and Education), Tauli-Corpuz holds the rare honor of being the first indigenous woman from the Philippines to be appointed as part of the system of the special procedures of the UN Human Rights Council, according to Legarda.

"This special selection as special rapporteur is a fitting recognition of her active involvement with United Nations and multi-stakeholder cross-regional bodies on indigenous issues" and "past collaboration with and commitment to constructive engagement among governments and indigenous peoples," Legarda said.

Tauli-Corpuz had lectured about International Human Rights Law and Indigenous Peoples' and Women's Rights at the University of Toronto, and Columbia University. She also drafted and negotiated the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples between 1985 to 2007, served as chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on indigenous issues (2005-2009) and of the Board of Trustees of the UN Voluntary Fund on Indigenous Populations (1995-2005). She was also a member of the International Labor Organization World Commission on Social Dimension of Globalization (2002)-2004) and of the Philippine government's National Commission of the Role of Filipino women (2001-2004).

"As Special Rapporteur, Tauli-Corpuz will conduct research on issues relevant to the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples, visit countries to observe and hear about the challenges faced by indigenous peoples, and communicate with governments when human rights violations are alleged," Pimentel said, adding: "It is but fitting for Congress to recognize the work of Tauli Corpuz for the indigenous people not only in the Philippines but in other parts of the world as well."

The Senate also adopted a resolution commending Ligaya Fernando-Amilbangsa for her successful efforts in promoting and conserving the pangalay, a traditional dance form of the Sulu Archipelago.

Legarda, who authored Senate Resolution No. 1527, said Amilbangsa, a native of Marikina, moved to Sulu when she married a schoolmate who was related to members of the royal family of the Sultanate of Sulu. There, she perfected pangalay by looking at her own silhouette on the wall by a lighted candle since there was no electricity in their place.

Pangalay, which means "gift offering" or temple of dance" in Sanskrit, is a pre-Islamic dance tradition among the Samal, Badjao, Jama Mapun and Tausug. It features complex body postures and gestures, renowned for its graceful arm and hand movement, emphasized by the use of janggay (metal claws) to the beat of kunlintang, gadang, agong and gabang. The dance is often performed during weddings and other festivals.

According to the resolution, Amilbangsa's alma mater, the Far Eastern University, awarded her the Green Gold Artist Award for dance in 1994. She also received the Tanglaw ng Lahi Award in 2005 and was awarded the First Most Outstanding Artist of Tawi-Tawi in September 2011. This year, she is slated to receive the Ramon Magsaysay Award, together with Kommaly Chantavong from Laos, Kyaw Thu from Myanmar, Anshu Gupta of India and Sanjiv Chaturvedi (for Emergent Leadership).

"For her love of the performing arts and Filipino culture, it is but timely and fitting for the Senate to commend Fernando-Amilbangsa," Legarda said.

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