Interactions between disaster risk reduction and intangible culture among indigenous communities in Benguet, Philippines

Abner Lawangen, Jessica Kate Roberts

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Intangible cultural heritage (ICH), are the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, and skills in society, handed down from generation to generation. They are of growing interest in disaster discourse, due to their various contributions to community preparedness and response, including the improvement of early warning systems and mobilisation of resources and logistics. Previous research has provided evidence on how ICH contributes to disaster risk reduction in various contexts but is often concentrated among popular cultural heritage, particularly those inscribed by the UNESCO. ICH such as local knowledge, practices, innovations, and rituals outside of this authorised cultural heritage, such as those belonging to indigenous communities, are less well articulated, despite their importance in helping build effective disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM). This research examined how ICH, particularly indigenous knowledge, practices, technologies, and rituals have helped communities in Benguet, Northern Philippines for generations to build coping strategies to better respond to the risks of typhoons and other extreme events. Adopting a qualitative mixed-methods approach with an ethnographic orientation, data was gathered using storytelling, semi-structured interviews, key informant interviews, and document review. Respondents included elders for the storytelling, households for the semi-structured interview, and officers of the local authorities for the key informant interviews. The key findings of this study highlighted that several areas of local knowledge, practices, and systems focused on social support systems, cultural technologies and innovations, local rituals, and indigenous early warning systems that are present within the Benguet community, all of which are essential in strengthening DRRM at the local level. This intangible heritage has been fundamental in helping facilitate careful planning and adjustments in local activities, catalysing preemptive measures against foreseeable risks. As such, greater effort should be made by the State to increase mainstreaming of these ICH and the participation of indigenous people in the planning and implementation of disaster risk reduction intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103801
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
Early online date26 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2023


  • ICH
  • Culture and disaster
  • Resilience
  • DRRM
  • Indigenous knowledge
  • Local capacities

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