Dec 28, 2018

Right before Congress ended its sessions for 2018, they voted on one last bill: The “Philippine Indigenous Games Preservation Act of 2017,” written by 1-Ang Edukasyon Rep. Salvador Belaro. Already on its third and final reading, the bill advocates the preservation of the countries’ indigenous games through the double team effort of the Department of Education (DepEd) and the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts (NCCA). The games would be included as part of basic school curriculum, and there would be demonstrations at national events and school activities, among other things. The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and the Philippine Olympic Committee, as well as their partner LGUs, will also be in charge of conducting regional and national competitions for indigenous sports.

In a statement from September, Belaro stressed that the onslaught of modernization was threatening the existence of indigenous games, saying, “Part of our rich cultural heritage are indigenous games such as sepak takraw and the like. The bill seeks to preserve our indigenous games to ensure that future generations of Filipinos can still enjoy them.”

nolisoli indigenous games sepak takraw
Sepak takraw is a game indigenous to Southeast Asia. Photo courtesy of Marianne Bermudez from

We’re happy to note that the Congress unanimously approved the bill. This year, we’ve seen many instances of the House dropping the ball, so it’s good to see that this isn’t one of them. The bill’s approval is good news to IP advocates everywhere, especially with it coming three years after Brazil launched the World Indigenous Olympics in 2015.

Why do we think this bill is important? Well, in the same way that the dominance of the Tagalog-based Filipino and English languages are stamping out our regional languages, our indigenous games are being systematically killed off by the dominance of foreign and Filipino games. Instead of being celebrated as our own homegrown games, they’re treated as ethnic and/or cultural oddities. This bill promises to overturn that.

Now that the bill has been approved, the NCCA is tasked to study up on all the indigenous games of each region, ensuring that no game is left behind.


Featured photo courtesy of EV Espiritu from It features Ifugao farmers competing in the tug-of-war-like game set in water guyyudan, which is the culminating activity of their punnuk ritual.

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TAGS: 1-Ang Edukasyon Rep. Salvador Belaro congress department of education house of representatives indigenous games national commission for culture and the arts Philippine Olympic Committee Philippine Sports Commission The Philippine Indigenous Games Preservation Act of 2017 word indigenous olympics