BAGUIO CITY The Regional Development Council Economic Development Committee, chaired by DTI-CAR, met to plan the theme and activities for this year’s Cordillera month celebration during their 1st quarter meeting on February 13. The committee took over as the lead Regional Development Council Sectoral committee for this year’s celebration from the Infrastructure Development Committee, led by DPWH-CAR. The provincial government of Mountain Province will co-host after responsibilities were turned over in 2019 from the province of Kalinga.

This year’s theme will be submitted to the RDC Council for approval. It will focus on innovation and regional autonomy towards economic prosperity. The Committee, chaired by DTI-CAR Regional Director Myrna Pablo envisions a vibrant month-long celebration of the 33rd founding anniversary of the Cordillera in July. There will be a Kapihan press conference on the first day of the month, the Unity Gong Relay on the second week, the founding anniversary celebration on July 15, and a culminating program and State of the Region Address on July 31. Various other activities and engagements are set throughout the month. Director Pablo stressed that this year’s celebration would involve more of the people of the Cordillera.

A primary activity designed for the people’s engagement is the Investment Opportunities Summit. DTI-CAR, supported by committee member agencies the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Science and Technology, will conduct a multi-province summit that would help Cordillera entrepreneurs increase investment generation with processing, marketing, and technology innovations.

Member agency DOT-CAR also proposed piloting a regional festival in Bontoc focused on Cordilleran music and folk arts. DOT-CAR officer-in-charge Jovita Ganongan said that there has yet to be truly region-wide festival that celebrates Cordillera culture and its people apart from the government-focused Cordillera Unity Gong relay. The committee recognized the potential of such a festival and the established platform of the RDC-led Cordillera month celebration can facilitate its creation.

The Cordillera month celebration, with its focus on the Unity Gong Relay, is an RDC-led initiative to celebrate the region’s identity and reaffirm its commitment to the Constitutional mandate of regional autonomy. It is based on the founding of the Cordillera Administrative Region through Executive Order 220 signed on July 15, 1987, which was intended to prepare the once-separated highland provinces, composed of a majority indigenous population, for regional autonomy.