Cordillera Day 2011, its significance for Baguio-Benguet

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Saturday, May 7, 2011


THE celebration of Cordillera Day last April 24 had a special significance for Cordillerans, particularly Baguio-Benguet, for two reasons and more.

First of all, it was the first time the multi-sectoral organizations in Baguio-Benguet, a non-binodngan area, rose to the challenge of leading an affair traditionally held in the binodngan areas with the leadership of the Cordillera Bodong Administration (CBA) assisted by the Cordillera Peoples' Liberation Army (CPLA).

Secondly, for the first time, too, the members of the Cordillera Bodies- the Cordillera Regional Assembly (CRA) and the Cordillera Executive Board (CEB) -- attempted joining hands to prepare for a momentous event in Cordillera history. Upon being informed of this by the undaunted organizers, President Benigno S. Aquino III, sent in his thoroughly heartening message, to quote verbatim: "It is my pleasure to greet the Cordillera Regional Assembly (CRA) and Cordillera Executive Board (CEB) (highlighting by the President) as you celebrate Cordillera Day.

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"Your theme, 'Cordillera Autonomy: The Appropriate Alternative to Regional Development,' affirms the objectives of self-determination and territorial identity, alongside the goal of establishing a self-sufficient community. This event thus also pays tribute to the legacy of heroism by your forefathers, in defense of the rights of your people. It is my wish that you will continue to live by their aspirations, for the benefit of your region.

"Now that we have seen the full light of day, after a long period of darkness, we have the momentum to revitalize our country and restore its standing in the global community, even as we maintain the diversity of our Filipino identity. Let us continue to uphold our sense of pride, courage, and integrity while still observing humility in our blessings and success.

No less than deputy chair of the CRA received the original copy of the message from the Office of the President. For the multi-sectoral organizers, who stood their ground despite the haunting absence of official budget, the substance of the message contained in flawless well-chosen language was enough reward. Upon coming to know of its forthcoming delivery, the marshals gave signal for the parade to proceed. And to their surprise, groups seemed to have sprouted from nowhere, unfurled their identifying placards and joined the march from the Baguio Convention Center down Session Road to the historic CRA Building Compound at Harrison Road, east of Burnham Park. Last but not the least, in the tri-lines of over a thousand heads were members of the Guardians Brotherhood, Inc.

Prominently displayed by volunteers of the CRSF (Cordillera Regional Security Force, Inc.), who ably played the first set of gansa following the motorcycle-riding police escorts, was the streamer: "Cordi Regional Autonomy for All"

The culminating program at the CRA Hall came up spontaneously led by the Ibaloi dames of La Trinidad, Benguet, in their colorful native attire, The dancers and songs rendered were participative, truly portraying the joy of Cordillerans upon seeing their otherwise unseen relatives, neighbors and other visitors. The traditional music and chants, like the bad-iw, served more to guide the rendition of moving lyrics. The bendiyan dance of the Ibaloi punctuated the program that transcended the time allotted for people to await the pack lunch tendered collectively by anonymous donors and supporters and disciplinedly served by the trim-looking CRSF Volunteers.

To those who in one way or the other, made this affair a resounding success, amidst initial doubts by even the Cordillera Bodies themselves because of the 'lack of time' for preparations, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on May 07, 2011.

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