Weygan: Ab-abiik – dos

Sangal di Kultura

MY BROTHER Andrew was my sibling tag along in my environmental advocacies and community development work. At a young age, he had a great appreciation of the environment and that has led him into an appreciation of the life systems of the indigenous people. Yet his passion in some ways was limited because of his constant concern to provide for his family. I was free as I do not have a family to feed, and I could see his constant struggle to decide whether to come for a trip to the mountains or to work for his family.

In the mid-1980s when President Cory Aquino became the president, I became part of young adults trying to build their careers and identity in the post martial law days. This group of people came together in various locations and had in-depth and heated discussions to set directions for a new organization which finally became the Association of Young Igorot Professionals Inc. (AYIP). Andrew was one of us, together with Mng Nestor Caoili, Ruben Tinda-an, Rose Marie Dulnuan, Margie Bataclao, Richard Bawingan, Jerome Gawidan, Joseph and William Gawidan Medardo Aquino, Diman Felipe, and many others who met in Summit Hotel (own by our parents) Amapola Café, Benguet State Univ, Caoili enterprises and any other venue.

Andrew would spend time with them discussing, even after I left to go to work or to go home. He is that passionate. We conducted a farmer’s conference in BSU and he was the one who prepared our souvenir program. As Ruben and Andrew had the artistic inclinations, they were the ones who designed the organization's logo and other publications before the group sent a go signal for its release. As he was a thinker like Manong Nestor, together with Ruben will craft the document to capture our discussions. He was that advance in mind and commitment. They can spend endless time with the members like the Gawidan brothers, Edward Duguis, and the rest discussing over coffee or gin and continue discussing the next day.

And when we finally had the organization and was going to the villages for Medical Missions, he would spare some time to join us walking miles to reach far-flung villages.

Another organization that he helped birth was the Upland Development Institute, Inc. (UDI) which was started in Bontoc, Mountain Province when I was based there because we pioneered the BSBT Foundation. This was a brainchild of the AYIP and became a reality when I was based in Bontoc in 1991. He was again instrumental in setting directions, speaking and training people, and guiding partners in the accomplishment of the projects of UDI. This was community development work. Andrew was very instrumental in its success in reaching out to the communities. I was then at one time the Executive Director as we implemented a multi-million project. He also became the Executive Director at one time.

He was instrumental in the birth of the advocacy group of volunteers called the Community Volunteer Missioners that have become an offshoot of UDI. There was a time, when he became the father and mother of his kids, as his wife Yora spent more time overseas. This curtailed his travels to the communities. As he was spending more time in his Printxpress, he had greater connections with the younger generation especially Interactive of UC, the Navigators, BSBT College, and other engagements which continue to enhance his community life in the concrete jungle.

He just started to reconnect again walking the mountains, crossing rivers, and writing what he likes after his children graduated from college. He died young in age but old in intelligence and experience. I miss you, Andrew, every once in awhile I will write about you.


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