/ 3 June 2021

A SENIOR high school student who is a member of the Panay Bukidnon cultural community known as Tumandok shared his passion for Indigenous Peoples music and culture when he represented the Philippines in the virtual International Youth Forum on Cultural Diversity.

The forum hosted by the Department of Education, in collaboration with the National Commission on Indigenous People, aimed to provide a platform for young leaders and advocates to discuss issues and resolutions on cultural diversity in the context of the present pandemic.

Ryennel Lavilla was among the speakers in the forum.

The other speakers were Aniket Balram Naidu of India, Aydin Quach of Canada, Januarsti Supramita Ningrum of Indonesia, and Kaedi Khama of South Africa.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate and global education icon Malala Yousafzai and Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate also shared messages in the virtual forum.

Lavilla is a skilled crafts maker specializing in embroidery and instrument making and a seasoned musician performing various Panay Bukidnon vocal and instrumental musical genres.

“I believe my work in music can unite people because music transcends differences in boundaries. Through music we can communicate, it has the capacity to bring us together and express ourselves and our identities,” Lavilla said.

“To my fellow youth, we should be proud of ourselves and our culture. Let us be an inspiration to our peers, be strong and persistent with our advocacies because we can be the agents of change for a better world,” he added.

In 2019, Lavilla was one of the six national finalists of the National Music Competition for Young Artists.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones commended Lavilla and other Filipino youth who promote Philippine culture.

“Culture retains our humanity amidst technological advancements and continuously shifting socio-economic landscape. Culture identifies us as people of one nation. Our art reflects the wide range of cultural influences, and how these influences honed Philippine art. I commend our learners and partners for imparting their heritage to the world,” Briones said.