The Oblate Province has generally allowed individual Oblates who came in contact with the Indigenous People (or the Tribal Filipinos as they were formerly referred to) in their particular assignments to minister to them as they saw appropriate.
The indigenous peoples belong to various minority groups which historically were the least influenced by Christianity and Western culture. Neither were they Islamized.
The indigenous peoples are at a critical juncture in their history. Their very survival is under the threat of manifold attacks centered at the very base of their culture and livelihood --their land. While they maintain a reverence and passion for the land, they are quickly and surely being eased out of their ancestral land.
This major problem of the indigenous peoples is however overshadowed by many immediate problems related to their day-to-day living.
Starting in the early 60's, programs responding to the peoples' plight have been mostly socio-economic using the "total human development" approach.
For the Dulangan Manobos of Kulaman, Sultan Kudarat: Community-based Agricultural/ Livelihood Skills Formation, Basic Numeracy and Literacy Skills Formation, Medical and Health Program, and Faith Formation Program. To take care of formal education needs, a school and a dormitory were established. Efforts have been extended to assist in the documentation of ancestral lands, a requisite for future claims.
For the Tirurays of Upi, Maguindanao: Catechetical work and the establishment of primary schools (now government schools) as well as a health program have been considered responsive to their needs. A credit union and a consumer's cooperative were also established.
For the Aroman Manobos of Pangipasan, Cotabato: Three major needs which are being responded to are: Food Production using the appropriate technology for the topography of their land; Health through a community-based health program; and Education through a literacy program. The development of a water system in the mountainous region that is Pangipasan is now of great help to the people. Being facilitated is the creation of the communities into a barangay in order to have a natural and legal standing of its own - one that is truly governed by the Manobos themselves.
The Oblates affirmed and accepted the Ministry as a truly Oblate ministry -- one that is clearly in keeping with the concern for the "poorest of the poor" and therefore "in line with the Oblate charism" and a "ministry that responds to the call of the times", a "locus for the radicalization of the gospel and a new venue to discover God in a new and unfamiliar setting. "
At the 1997 Congress, it was decided to make the Indigenous Peoples Apostolate among the priorities of the Province.
It is timely that recently the commitment to work with the indigenous peoples has been enfleshed more concretely by the reconstitution of the Committee and the appointment of two full-time Oblates in the Ministry.
Being carried out for the period July 1998 to December 1999 is an In-depth Documentation for the Ancestral Domain Claim of the Manobos in Kulaman. The key concerns of the project include: Historical Manobo Landmarks/Clans/Key Figures; Political-Judicial System and Culture-Beliefs, Practices and Rituals.