The Philippines is one of the many countries that currently acknowledge the presence of indigenous peoples (IPs) within their territories. This acknowledgment often comes with a formal recognition of the rights of IPs, including the right to practice their customary laws. Because of the equal existence of overarching state laws, this formally leads to a situation of legal pluralism for IPs. For many forest conservation advocates, legal pluralism for IPs, particularly with regard to land ownership and forest management, is expected to help conserve forests. This expectation, however, is founded on the erroneous assumption that the traditional land use of IPs is nondestructive and that traditional land ownership is communal. Using a relatively long historical perspective, this article demonstrates that these assumptions do not apply to the Kalanguya of Tinoc, the Philippines. In contrast to the notion of IPs being market-averse, this article further demonstrates that many Kalanguya have been and remain “capitalists”. The article favors the inclusion of a market-based forest conservation policy, which is arguably consistent with the reality of value pluralism.
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