Gloria Amor Paredes is an environmental education and community development specialist. She is the co-founder of Salumayag Youth Collective for Forests, an Indigenous youth and women-led initiative that empowers local and Indigenous communities in the stewardship of their ancestral lands through regenerative practices and narratives. This project is based in Sto. Domingo, Quezon, Bukidnon, a Manobo-Kulamanen community on the Philippine island of Mindanao with a long history of ecological, social, and economic disadvantages. The work of Salumayag Youth is anchored on the community’s desire to nurture culture and sustain Indigenous ways of living. For Salumayag Youth, forest regeneration and regenerative agriculture must be accompanied by community storytelling and nature-based education.
About the project: Salumayag Youth Collective for Forests is an Indigenous and local youth-led initiative that empowers local communities to lead the stewardship of their ancestral lands through regenerative practices and narratives. The project is based on four main interrelating pillars of engagements. First, it works to regenerate land and culture through agroforestry and organic farming. With community youth volunteers, the collective manages native tree nurseries and natural regeneration methods. The project is also based on dialogues and training, including forest walks with Manobo youth volunteers, dialogues with smallholder farmers, and community consultations. Environmental storytelling also plays a big part for the collective as stories are a huge part of Manobo and other Indigenous cultures. Finally, it consists of a social enterprise, being in the exploratory stage for the collective farming of heirloom grains, coffee, and cacao, in addition to exploring farm tourism.