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Regional Youth Summit, Menoken Southeast Asia 2021: A Meeting of Indigenous Youths in Indonesia and the Philippines


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Dancing show in the Regional Youth Summit, Menoken Southeast Asia 2021. (SAMDHANA)

From 19-21 November 2021, the Samdhana Institute hosted the latest in a series of Menoken events, entitled Regional Youth Summit, Menoken Southeast Asia 2021: A Meeting of Indigenous Youths in Indonesia and the Philippines. Hosted simultaneously in two Southeast Asian countries, namely Indonesia and the Philippines, the summit provided an opportunity for indigenous youths in both countries to reconnect relationships that had been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The summit featured various cultural exchanges, experiences, sharing of concerns regarding the pandemic situation and formulation of plans for the reunification of indigenous youths. Menoken activities are generally held in interesting locations close to nature, such as in mountainous areas, around rivers or lakes, and customary (adat) areas. With the concept of camping out or spending the night in a tent, Menoken events become a medium for participants (or ‘nokeners’) to get back in touch with themselves, with other people, with nature and with their ancestors.

In each location where Menoken activities were held, communities prepared a variety of unique and interesting activities. Youths who are members of Indigenous communities in both Indonesia and the Philippines designed their own activities and programmes, with various discussion topics identified by working groups in each community. These topics included discussions around the rights of Indigenous Peoples, specifically in relation to environment and climate, culture and tradition, traditional food, coding applications and internet technology, recycling activities, tree planting programmes, exchanging millennial agricultural experiences, learning sign language, filmmaking, and entrepreneurship.

Among the event organisers were various representatives of differently abled members of the Indigenous community; they ensured sign language translators were provided to accompany deaf nokeners. Menoken in Kasepuhan Karang Banten, Erwin one of the founders of Kopi Tuli (Deaf Coffee Community) who is also a person with different ability, shared the story when the first time he and his partners Putri and Andika build the kopi tuli community. It was based on their struggle as deaf people to obtain a job. Erwin said that his two friends' job applications were rejected by various companies. “ even Putri was rejected by more than 200 companies”said Erwin.

Coming from the frustration Erwin and his partners, learned about the coffee business, seeking for investors and develop various coffee and non-coffee-based beverages, and now they already have 3 Kedai Kopi Tuli Franchises; 2 located in Depok, 1 in Jakarta.  Erwin explained that in Kopi Tuli, while drinking coffee you can learn to interact with sign language," To attract visitors' interest in learning sign language, on each coffee menu there is a hand drawing that forms letters.

Listening to the story, Yong the nokeners from Laos felt very moved to the story “I wish one day I can visit Kopi Tuli and learn the sign language,” Said Yong. Erwin is excited to know the friends comment and reaction, and wish to share the sign language to friends in Philippine and Laos, though He said, the sign language in different country is different “I am sure when I am able to meet friends in Philippines and Laos, I can communicate well enough with basics sign language” said Erwin.

From Tanah Timor Community, share behind the story of Video “Soke Bercerita”. Esther one of the nokeners from Tanah Timor, “after The Seroja Hurricane that hit their village, many people lost their house and belongings, crops and livestock washed away by the floow” She said. The economy went down and people seek any valuable things that they can use for daily life, and one day the team from Sekolah Alam Manusak came to help them. “We are thought, to use the Soke (coconut shell) and turn it to be daily simple cutlery and house hold goods” add Esther. Through Samdhana and Sekolah Alam Manusak we were trained to process the Soke in to glasses, bowls and other cutlery. “Now we can sell the soke’s and make a good economy from it”. Esther ended her story.

Another story coming from JendraNath Community who was formed about two years ago, as a market hub that promotes and shares knowledge about community products both from Bali and other areas such as Kulon Progo and Lampung. There are organic products from various communities, and JendraNath provides the access for local products promoted in the local stores.

At the end of all sharing session, Ruwi from Samdhana who joined the menoken youth summit online Session from Tamblingan Bali, “to understand better the deaf people feelings, let’s have a silent moment, and share your comments and thoughts after listening to all the stories, only with word and chat it in the chat box”.

The Regional Youth Summit was the result of collaboration between various Indigenous communities in Indonesia and the Philippines. In Indonesia, this includes the Community of Activists Caring for the Rights of Children (PAPHA) from Maumere, East Nusa Tenggara; the Tanah Timor Community, from East Nusa Tenggara; the Tabi Community, from Papua; the Deaf Coffee community, from West Java; the Animha Community, from Papua; the Movement Caring for Children with Disabilities (GPAD), from Central Java; Patamuan Talino Cultural School Community, from West Kalimantan; the Pattalasang Community, from Gowa; the Tamblingan Indigenous Community, from Bali; The Desa Les Community, from Bali; and the Domberai Community, from Papua; all are supported by the Samdhana Institute, Kaoem Telapak Bogor and Yayasan Rumah Solusi Beta Indonesia.

Meanwhile, in the Philippines, Menoken activities were held in collaboration with indigenous communities such as Paraigu Kawataan, from Calamianes; Anak ng Tribu Higaunen-Talaandig; the KAGDUMA Youth; Sinabuwa ho mga Basbasenen Higaonon ta Cagayan de Oro; the Dulangan Youth Group; MAMACILA Youth; Kalanawan Youth; Man-ai Indigenous Youth Community; representatives from the Bukidnon Indigenous Cultural Communities Ancestral Domain, including Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental; the Unified Kirinteken Ilantungon Menuvu Tribal Council Youth; the Serusaat Menuvu Tribal Organization and Neumpong ne Memenguhen te Serusaat, from Southern Bukidnon; the Inter-Cultural Organizations Network for Solidarity and Peace (Kidapawan); the Diocesan Social Action Center of Surigao; the Diocesan Social Action Center of Tandag; and the Teduray, Lambangian Youth and Students Association, from Maguindanao.


The Samdhana Institute works alongside Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs) to achieve social and environmental justice in Southeast Asia. We envision a region in which natural, cultural and spiritual diversity are valued, where communities have control over their territories and well-being, and full recourse to the rule of law. Samdhana programmes are geared towards building bridges between communities and laying the foundations upon which this vision for the future can be built.


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