BAGUIO CITY – With the theme “Revitalizing our cultural heritage,” the 3rd Gong Festival held at the Ibaloi Heritage Garden on October 11, 2015 served as another venue to highlight the uniqueness of the Cordillera region.

The festival highlights the symbolic beating of the seven gongs to signify peace, unity and preservation of century-long cultural practices among the various indigenous communities in the region.More than 130gongs were played featuring the dances of the various Cordillera ethno-linguistic groups.

Cordillera’s pride of their cultural heritage was demonstrated by the dignified performances from 30 various cultural groups of children, youth, women and men. More than 500 people from the provinces, neighboring towns, and Baguio City joined the celebration.

Chants to Kabunian and indigenous dances, attires,games and musical instruments all reflect the richness of Cordillera’s cultural heritage, for which the Cordillerans continue to show and take pride during community affairs and festivities. Such heritage shaped by the region’s uncolonized history and natural resources and continuously sustained by the people’s resilience are what makes the region unique.

Regional Development Council (RDC) Vice-chair and NEDA-CAR Dir. Milagros Rimando explained that this is the very reason why Executive Order 220, creating a temporary administrative region, was granted to the people of the Cordillera. She highlighted that regional autonomy as provided in the said EO, will allow the region to enhance and establish a permanent regional identity. She mentioned that the Unity Gong Relay is undertaken by the RDC during the Cordillera Month every July to showcase the region’s heritage and the clamor for a unified Cordillera towards the realization of a Cordillera Autonomous Region as mandated in the Philippine Constitution.

Present-day Cordillera is characterized by cultural pluralism, said Hon. Alberto Bernardo, head of the Presidential Task Force on Inter-religion and Inter-cultural Concerns. He urged that indigenous practices and systems should be preserved and efforts should be directed to the pursuit for regional autonomy as Cordillera unceasingly searches for ways for their culture to thrive amidst heterogeneous demands of modern society.

The event was made successfully organized by the Indigenous People’s Education for the Arts, Culture and Empowerment, Inc. (IPEACE) with support from the RDC.

 

by Mark Allen Ponciano, SPCAR