Friday, January 20, 2017

3-Days/2-Nights Art And Music Fair To Be Held In Sagada This Coming April

Local organizers in Sagada, in cooperation with the Henry V. Moran Foundation and alumni of the St. Mary's School, are in the thick of polishing the details of an art and music fair to be held at the highland town from April 28 to 30. The event is offering three days and two nights of activities that revolve around art and music. Visual artists, musicians, and bands will be invited to participate. The fair is the first of its kind to be held in the tourist town.

The organizers are yet to release the lineup of musicians and visual artists who will be involved in the fair. However, they say that participants can expect to see anywhere between ten to twenty artists and bands in the duration of the three-day event. Early bird tickets cost 2,000 pesos each. This amount will be for the tickets only. It doesn't cover accommodation or your expenses during your stay in town.

The planned fair has the trappings of a good event. You get to enjoy art and music while basking in Sagada's natural wonders. It's also commendable that the organizers are enforcing a "no bed, no ticket" policy. This ensures that the town doesn't get choked by an influx of people who have nowhere to stay. To make the "no bed, no ticket" policy work, the organizers partnered with over two dozen inns and lodges in Sagada. And that's a good thing.

For your queries and for additional information about the Sagada Art and Music Fair, you may visit the event's official Faebook page here.
Photo credit: caitriana via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]

Let's Help Build A Library In Tacadang, Kibungan, Benguet

It was Malala Yousafzai who pronounced that "one book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world". She knows what she's saying considering what she's been through. For her fearless struggle to create awareness about the suppression of children and her ceaseless efforts to uphold the rights of children to basic education, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2014. She is the youngest person to ever receive the prestigious prize.

It's not enough to be inspired by Malala. It's not enough to be in awe of her fearless activism. We should always attempt to turn the inspiration and awe we feel into something more concrete. In that essence, I'm encouraging our readers to get involved in projects and movements that are in line with the advocacies of Malala.

This brings me to Libro Mo, Inspirasyon Ko, an educational project that has been helping build libraries in remote schools in the Cordillera region. Started and headed by Carl Taawan, a journalist based in Baguio City, the project conducts book drives then carts the collected books and school supplies to far-flung locations in the region.

The organization is currently holding another book drive which will culminate with the delivery of the books on January 28 and 29. The recipient school this time is Es-esa S. Aludos Elementary School which is located in Tacadang, Kibungan, Benguet. Aside from books, the organization also accepts donations in the form of "spare reading materials, educational software, teaching materials, and sports equipment".

Those who wish to either donate or volunteer may contact the organization using the following mobile phone numbers: 0919-993-3911 or 0926-972-2222. You can also email them at For additional details and updates, check out the book drive's event page on Facebook here.
Photo credit: Baguio Smile

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Here's The Schedule Of Events For Kalinga's 1st Bodong Festival This Coming February

It's all systems go for the very first staging of the Bodong Festival in Kalinga this coming February. For those not in the loop, the Bodong Festival is a revamped version of the Ullalim Festival which the province has been celebrating during the last twenty-one years. The festival is part of the province's celebration of its foundation anniversary which falls on the 14th of February. 

The province decided to change the name of the festival because "bodong" is a practice that has "social, cultural, economic, political, and even religious significance" while "ullalim" is a chant that doesn't represent all the tribes in the region. The name-change was facilitated by a provincial ordinance authored by Eduardo Sarol and Frederick Pangsiw. Sarol and Pangsiw are members of the provincial board. They originally sought to change Ullalim Festival to Bodong Mankapyaan Festival but the shorter version (Bodong Festival) prevailed.

Photo by Daniel Feliciano / The Cordilleran Sun
The month-long festivities will commence on February 11 with a bike fest. The highlights of the festival will be held from February 12 to 14. The activities include drum and lyre competitions, a beauty pageant, a street dance parade, and a grand civic parade. This year's celebrations carry the theme "Foundation for Lasting Peace and Progress." Check out below the calendar of events for the festival:

February 6 to 14
Industrial Trade Fair
Along national road in front of Saint Tonis College
February 11
Bike festival
Route is yet to be announced
February 12 to 14
Capitol Grounds, Bulanao, Tabuk City
February 12, 8 am
Thanksgiving mass
Capitol Canopy, Bulanao, Tabuk City
February 12, 10 am
Elementary schools drum and lyre
Capitol Grounds
February 12, 1 to 5 pm
Family games and Globe Telecommunications-sponsored talent showdown
Capitol Park
February 12, 6 pm onwards
Search for Miss Kalinga 2017
Kalinga Sports Center, Tabuk City
February 13 to 14
Job Fair
Capitol Grounds
February 13, 7 am
Street dance parade
Rotary marker-Kalinga sports center
February 13, 9 to 10:30 am
Street dance field demo
Kalinga sports center
February 13, 10:30 am to 3 pm
Lonok, inum, and cultural performance
Kalinga sports center
February 13, 4 pm onwards
RDC Advisory Committee Meeting
Governor’s Hall, 3rd Floor, Enterprise Building, Capitol Hills, Tabuk City
February 13, 6 pm onwards
Laga cultural show
Kalinga sports center
February 14, 7 am
Grand civic parade
Rotary marker-Kalinga sports center
February 14, 10 am onwards
Anniversary program
Kalinga sports center
February 14, 1 to 5 pm
Secondary schools drum and lyre
Kalinga sports complex, athletic oval
February 14, 6 pm onwards
Valentine’s concert and fireworks display
Capitol park
February 1 to 28
Amusement, carnaval
Capitol grounds
February 6 to 14
Night Market
Trade fair site and capitol market bazaar
February 12 to 16, 6 pm onwards
Sponsored concert
Capitol Park

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Museo Kordilyera to Open on January 31 at UP Baguio

[Press Release] The University of the Philippines Baguio (UPB) will hold the formal opening of its ethnographic museum, the Museo Kordilyera, on January 31.

The event caps seven months of preparatory activities reckoned from the museum’s soft opening on June 23, 2016. After the formal opening this month, the museum would be open to the public where they will view three inaugural exhibits - on tattoos as body archive from the research work of anthropologist Dr. Analyn Salvador-Amores; a retrospective of the works of the late anthropologist Jules de Raedt; as well as selected ethnographic photographs by Roland Rabang of the UPB College of Arts and Communication.

The inaugural exhibits were the result of more than a year of curatorial work undertaken by Professor Emeritus Delfin Tolentino, Jr., Prof. Victoria Diaz, archivist Cristina Villanueva and Dr. Salvador-Amores. The curators’ selection of works to be featured in the museum follows the concept of the ethnographic museum in which it is “distinguished by its integral connection to the scholarly work of the faculty from the different colleges of the University.”

Guidance on the physical layout and museum content were provided by museum consultants Ma. Victoria “Boots” Herrera, director and chief curator of the Ateneo Art Gallery, Dannie Alvarez, administrator of the Yuchengco Museum, and Peter John Natividad, art collections management consultant of the Lopez Museum and Library.

Dr. Salvador-Amores, who is also the museum’s director said that this and succeeding scholarly works from the faculty that will be featured in the museum are works “dedicated to regional culture, (since the museum) will serve as a repository of the tangible and intangible heritage of the Cordillera.”

She added that the focus of the museum which is ethnography points to its “essential connection to anthropology,” as the discipline partakes of a particular “mode of anthropological research and discourse known as ethnography.”
Photo credit: Museo Kordilyera
The museum, she said, will focus “on the collection, preservation and display of objects associated with the unique societies and cultures of the Cordillera region.

The Museo Kordilyera is a three-level structure with only its reception level visible on the surface. Vice-chancellor for Administration Prof. Jessica K. Cariño said this follows the university’s policy that the structures should integrate with the university’s terrain and topography for “sustainability and preservation of ecology.”

She added that structures at UP Baguio should be “future proof,” explaining that the cost of maintenance for the use of the facilities in the succeeding years should be at the minimum.

Most of Museo Kordilyera’s essential facilities are at the second and third ground levels which include a permanent collection and curatorial space for ethnographic materials; a temporary exhibition space for loaned exhibitions and collateral activities by students, faculty and alumni; a visitor’s room for museum orientation purposes; an audio-visual room; and a museum shop and café.

The Museo Kordilyera is part of an infrastructure development plan initiated by Chancellor Raymundo D. Rovillos. This development plan had been approved and funded by the UP system under the administration of university President Alfredo A. Pascual.

[This is a press release by the University of the Philippines Baguio. For more information, you may contact Roland Rabang of the university's Office of Public Affairs. Or call them at 444-8719.]

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Mt. Yangbew in La Trinidad, Benguet Engulfed by a Sea of Clouds and Mist

It was a cloudy Sunday morning. Low-lying clouds and mists have descended into the La Trinidad valley. So I decided to climb Mt. Yangbew to see what it's like up there with the clouds rolling and dancing all over it. I wasn't disappointed. Visibility was very low. You stand at the peak and you can only see just several meters in front of you.

It was a weekend so there's a trickle of other hikers ascending the mountain. I met and conversed with a few of them. Most of them were a bit upset by the weather because the clouds have literally blocked the view of the valley and the surrounding Benguet mountains. On a clear day, you can almost see the entirety of the La Trinidad valley below. Far off in the distance would be mountain peaks belonging to the nearby towns of Tublay and Kapangan. From the west, you could see the peaks of Mt. Sto. Tomas.

And if you fancy a ride, there are horses atop Mt. Yangbew that you can rent for 150 pesos (good for 30 minutes). There are handlers who will guide you and the horse around the peak. If you don't want to ride but you need souvenir pictures, picture-taking is only worth 20 pesos. You can take as many pictures as you want for only 20 pesos.

For those planning to visit the mountain, here's how you can get there: Ride a jeep from Baguio City, get off along Km. 4 in Pines Park, ride a jeep that goes up to Lubas, and tell the driver to drop you off at the trail leading to the mountain. Always bring water and snacks with you. There's no water nor food at the top.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Quick Thoughts on Cordilleran Culture in the 21st Century

I was at an obscure and fairly deserted bar in Baguio City a few nights ago, having a heated conversation with an old friend from college. We were in the thick of discussing the main arguments I've put forth in the book about Igorot history and culture that I'm currently attempting to write. We've met that night with the sole intention of trying to iron out some of our differences when it comes to our views on Cordilleran culture. I'm her most ardent critic. She extends to me the same courtesy.

Our exchange of cultural ideas has always been fervent ever since we met at a philosophy class in Saint Louis University over a decade ago. She has always been and will always be a good friend. But when it comes to certain ideologies and thought movements, we are the worst of enemies. I lost count how many times we've called each other "tabbed". That's the Kankanaey/Ilocano term for "idiot" or "moron". This is one of the things that I truly admire about her aside from being too smart (sometimes too smart for her own good). She's not afraid to call me an idiot if she catches me saying something idiotic. She is always quick to cut me off when I attempt to misdirect the conversation with another white lie.

One time, I joined her and her husband, and their immensely cute little daughter for lunch. I was with the impression that she won't be that harsh with her critique of me in the company of others. I was dreadfully wrong. She called me "tabbed" numerous times in front of her husband and child while we conversed over steamed pork and carrot cake. That’s how uncensored and unguarded she is when it comes to topics she is very passionate about. I’ve always taken her outbursts as compliments because if I said something that jolted her brain, that means I’m making her think. I’m making a mark. This unique habit of hers amuses me sometimes. Her husband tried to apologize. I chuckled and brushed it off. I told him I’m more than used to it. We all had a good laugh before we called it a day.

In a nutshell, she and I disagree more than we find common ground with regards to culturally-charged ideas and concepts. Most times, we find ourselves on opposite sides of the street. The conversations we have often have the same ending – we simply agree to disagree. Culturally speaking, she’s a purist. I, on the other hand, take a more flexible stance. For example, she loses her wits when she notices someone wearing the traditional Igorot attire wrong. She rattles her head as she starts another diatribe about women wearing the “bakget” or “ingay” wrong.

Her attention to detail is beyond phenomenal. She knows the specific designs of traditional textiles woven within the confines of Kalinga, Mt. Province, Ifugao, and Benguet. She often sends me links to YouTube videos of people claiming to be dancing an Igorot dance when in fact the steps and the music are an "unbelievable mess" (her words, not mine). She thinks that the old Igorot folks at the Botanical Garden are giving the tribe a bad name. In essence, she wants our culture and our traditions to be where they were before western civilization came marching in and injected all sorts of influences and modifications.

I understand her purist stance. In fact, I have the feeling that majority of Igorots today share her sentiments especially on the issue of preserving our culture and traditions to the exact letter. The consensus, I believe, is that nothing should get out nor get in. Keep the dances as is. Keep the indigenous attires as is. Keep the songs as is. To a certain degree, I agree with these purist tactics. However, I also believe that culture should evolve. It should be subject to change. Let us not forget how our ancestors danced, how they sang, how they dressed, and how they performed rituals. In fact, let’s record and put all of these original things into paper, into digital files, into moving pictures so that we can remember and celebrate them. Let’s practice and observe them for as long as we are able to. But at the same time, let us not allow this purist attitude turn into an impregnable wall that prevents our culture from evolving into something else.
Photo credit: scion_cho via Flickr. [CC BY-NC 2.0]
In pursuit of fairness, I have to admit that I used to have these purist tendencies with regards to Cordilleran culture. However, after soaking up the limited but data-rich historical records and papers on the region’s history, my reluctance to change slowly crumbled and ebbed away. It’s not completely gone, of course. Change has its limits, at least as far as cultures and traditions are concerned. A perfect example would be cultural misappropriation. Both non-Igorots and Igorots are guilty of this sin. It’s bad because it wants to affect change through ignorance. The kind of change we can accept should be the ones that are done with respect, with class, and in good taste.

Lest the reader makes the assumption that I look down on purists, I do not. I’m simply offering these ideas as things to think about. I'm also not saying that I carry the right stance and that those who oppose it are wrong. Like I always do with my old friend from college, I'd be more than willing to agree to disagree.

Special Forces Captain From Buguias, Benguet Killed In War Against The Terror Group Abu Sayyaf

A commanding officer of the Special Forces Regiment (Airborne) of the Philippine Army was killed during an encounter with a notorious terror group in Mindanao on Thursday (January 12). Captain Clinton Longbas Capio perished during the nine-hour firefight against an estimated 60 to 80 heavily-armed Abu Sayyaf militants. According to Major Filemon Tan Jr., spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command, Captain Capio fell when an enemy bullet hit him on the right temple. The loss of Captain Capio makes him the first casualty of 2017 on the war on terror in Mindanao.

Four other soldiers were also wounded during the encounter which occurred in the village of Cabcaban in Sumisip, Basilan. One is a Special Forces member (Sergeant Gilbert Dumlao) and three are infantry soldiers (Marvin Indog, Joel Manuel, and Arthur Jimenez). The military organized the attack after receiving intel that armed Abu Sayyaf members were converging in the area. The terror group led by a certain Furuji Indama held the ground for several hours before retreating, leaving behind at least two of their dead comrades.

Captain Capio hails from Amlimay, Buguias, Benguet. Before joining the Philippine Military Academy, Capio took up engineering in Saint Louis University in Baguio City. He then entered the military academy and graduated in 2006 as part of the Mandala Class (Mandirigmang Dangal ng Lahi). A commanding officer of the 1st Special Forces Company, he was assigned to Basilan to help fight the hundreds of Abu Sayyaf members that still operate within the island province. According to reports, Captain Capio's remains will be flown by military plane to Baguio City as soon as the appropriate military honors are done. He was 34 years old and he left behind a wife and a three-year-old daughter.

Messages of support for the fallen officer were posted online by friends, relatives, and fellow soldiers. Randy Diaz, also from the Philippine Army, wrote on his wall, "Captain Clinton Capio, sir thank you for being a good captain to us. We the troops of the 1st Company are proud of you and we salute you sir for being a brave hero. Our deepest sympathy to your bereaved family."
Photo Credit: Randy Diaz via Facebook.