Over 800 Senior high school and college students of Bontoc attended the concert forum last September 21.

BAGUIO CITY – For the second half of 2017, RDC and NEDA, in partnership with The Cordillera Connection, conducted a series of concert-forums that aimed to raise awareness on regional autonomy for the youth sector. La Trinidad, Tabuk, Bontoc and Lamut have been witnesses to the information and education campaign of the RDC in preparing the Cordillera youth for Regional Autonomy.

Sentiments of the Elders

Gov. Bonifacio Lacwasan of Mountain Province in his opening remarks during the Bontoc leg of the series emphasized the need for the youth to continue the struggle for autonomy. Cordillera Autonomy pioneers of the last four decades are aging and it is up to a new generation of Cordillerans to continue securing their rights and cultural heritage, he added.

Also in the Bontoc leg, Atty. Amador Batay-an, provincial administrator of Mountain Province and a member of the IEC Speakers’ Bureau echoed the sentiments of the past generation saying, “Before July 15, 1987, there was no Cordillera to talk about…[before] that time we were not a region; we were nothing.”

Referring to the risk of relegating the provinces back to the old administrative regions if a third plebiscite fails, Atty. Fritz Turqueza of the IEC Speakers’ Bureau and DILG-CAR addressed the crowd in the La Trinidad leg saying, “You have to secure your future, you have to secure the region, you have to secure your permanent cultural identity.”

Yearning for more

The concert-forums proved to excite the interest of the youth. Sentiments of students repeatedly clamor for more expanded discussions on autonomy. As one student from Lamut, Ifugao suggested, “Activities like this must have a time allotted to express and explain more [on] the given topic for us students”.

Another student from Bontoc recognized the need to expand the reach of the information and education campaign saying, “Invite the schools in the barrios not only in the central barangays. Educating the people in the barrios open-up their minds since they know little of autonomy. Thanks NEDA!”

What’s Next

The interest among the youth to learn more on regional autonomy is clearly evident. Aside from the concert-forums, more activities are lined up for the youth sector this 2018. Activities such as the theatre and street plays about the struggle for Cordillera Autonomy & self-determination and in-depth student forums delving deeper in the topics discussed in the concert-forums will be the primary focus of NEDA and the RDC for this year.