To be affiliated with an indigenous people (IP) is a distinct identity, but with a bizarre distinction. You live and mingle with the society with that societal patent-an IPs, which sometimes are being looked down by the elite group or upper echelon in our social strata. On the contrary, the IPs hold every right because they are the aboriginal inhabitants of the land they live in; and not settlers from elsewhere.
The IPs are never influenced by any foreign culture and tradition; they uphold and maintain their own norms and practices as matter of identity.
Because they are left behind like other natives of Mindanao, most of them are now either engaged in fishing or farming as their source of livelihood.
Abdul Taher Casem Ali, a father of four, is one indigenous inhabitant in Bunkhouse, Malabang, Lanao del Sur. He is an active member of Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program; his wife and children being beneficiaries of 4Ps.
A half-Samal and half-Maguindanaon, he resettled his family from Cotabato City to Malabang in search for something to earn a living as Cotabato City is not fortunate for them.
Mr. Ali landed as fisherman in Malabang with an income barely enough to sustain the basic needs of his family.
While starting to earn a living in Malabang, he was not spared of our inherent culture, which also happens in some nations, which is racism. His children, having dark skin, were demeaned and despised, but he has that strong forbearance to ignore that sort of oppression.
One simple reason, aside from his patience, is that Mr. Ali has no option to choose from. He has to bite the bullet for the future of his children who are making good in their schooling.
Samer S. Ali, his second child, is in grade 8; Acmad S. Ali, grade 7 and Arbaya S. Ali, grade 6. They are all bright students of their respective classes.
Indeed, Mr. Ali is one of the icons of an IPs. His patience, love of fellowmen by way of promoting and advocating the equal rights of every individual is worthy of emulation.
A man imbued with patience and righteousness, he attended a lot of events dealing with indigenous people. In July 2013, he was sent to Manila as representative of their tribe for the convention on the rights and privileges of IPs.
He always participated in all kinds of community activities, even on undertakings, which are arranged or meant only for women, like KALIPI Alay Linis.
Indeed, his virtues and ideals had made him as head of their IP organization in Barangay Bunkhouse.