BONTOC, Mountain Province – This town’s 110th Foundation Day and 14th Am-among Festival highlight how the municipality is moving forward for progress, at the same time reflect on how its people excel and made a name in the country and even overseas.
For this year’s twin celebration scheduled on September 21 -22, 2018, the officialdom and people of Bontoc invited PSupt. Byron Allatog, and Professor Emeritus June “Chayapan” Prill- Brett of the University of the Philippines (UP) – Baguio to grace the two celebrations, respectively.
Allatog who grew up in Barangay Bontoc Ili made his fellow-Cordilleran proud of their roots as he excelled in his chosen career is one of the Country’s Outstanding Police Officer in Service (COPS) in 2014 and a Chief of Police who made name in the national and international television networks for a zero record of alleged extrajudicial killings of drug personalities in his area of responsibility since the “War on Drugs” of President Rodrigo R. Duterte has started.
Brett who traced her roots in Barangays Alab, Gonogon and Tocucan is the first Igorot / Cordilleran to earn a doctorate degree from the Department of Anthropology in UP- Diliman, and now a world-renowned anthropologist.
Focusing on this year’s theme “Sustaining Bontoc Culture, Empowering Communities, Access to Global Opportunities”, Allatog voiced his observation on the participation of the young people or the youth in the traditional dances which is a manifestation that these are not forgotten. The Keynote Speaker further highlighted that protecting and strengthening the culture is by doing it, rather than by merely saying it.
He also gave emphasis on the Bontoc Culture which paves the way to access opportunities even outside the country or overseas. With this, the police official encouraged the young people/ children to be the one to choose their career which they love and not their parents dictating or choosing the career path for them. He added that a person will never perform her/his job at the maximum level if she or he does not love it.
“A person will never work a day in her/his life if she/ he does not love what she/he is doing”, Allatog remarked while adding that this could have been his secret in staying in the service for many years at the same time excelling in his chosen career. It is because he loves his job.
Allatog admitted that it is always a different and unexplained emotion every time he comes home in Bontoc. However, he said that he has no regrets of stepping out from his comfort zone or moving away from his hometown to follow his chosen career. For him, being deployed to different places in the country and even overseas opened new opportunities, career advancement, and personal growth. It made him a better person.
In closing of his speech, the Keynote Speaker commended the officialdom of Bontoc headed by Bontoc Mayor Franklin Odsey for the construction of the new Bontoc Municipal Capitol. According to him, the grand and elegant structure shows the cooperation of the present administration. It is a manifestation that Bontoc is moving forward for progress and prosperity.
Odsey in his message remarked that this year is threesome celebration as Bontoc does not only commemorate the town’s birth and festival but also celebrate its progress. These include addressing the garbage problem with a Solid Waste Management Facility now in place at Am-ancho, Bontoc Ili; the on-going project on the installation of potable water system in Gakhan Creek/ spring in Barangay Talubin going directly to the water reservoir in Pagturao, Poblacion and to be distributed to the households, commercial buildings and institutions in Barangays Bontoc Ili, Poblacion, Caluttit and Samoki; and the construction of the new Bontoc Municipal Capitol.
Meanwhile, speaking before almost a thousand people in the audience, world-renowned anthropologist June “Chayapan” Prill – Brett who graced the Street Dancing and Cultural Presentation, and the program in September 22 shared her researches on Bontok Culture.
She humbly explained that her contribution on Bontok Culture is based on her researches on areas that lack information which she felt is needed to be studied; and to look at some cultural practices and values that the Bontoc people wish to sustain, the vanishing cultural practices, and indigenous knowledge, especially material culture that can be preserved and transmitted to the succeeding generations.
Among the topics covered in her research are the Bontoc Property System, Indigenous Bontok Warfare, Revisiting Pre-Colonial Philippine Society, Inter-Village Warfare, Justice System, Gender Relations and Gender Issues on Resource Management in the Central Cordillera, Coping Strategies in the Bontok Highland Agro ecosystem: The Role of Ritual, Adult Jar –Burial Custom Among the Alab, Bontoc, Mountain Province, The Bontoc Aratey Bridge: A Technological Invention by Indigenous Engineers, Cultural Preservation and Promotion Through Community Ethno Museums, and Intangible Culture.
Highlighting the 14th Am-among Festival is the Street Dancing and Cultural Presentation which has become a crowd-drawing event yearly. For this year, four clusters represented the 16 barangays of Bontoc comprising the ALBAGO Cluster (Barangays Alab Oriente, Alab Proper, Balili and Gonogon); the Riverside Cluster covering Barangays Bayyo, Talubin, Caneo and Tocucan; the Upland Cluster (Barangays Dalican, Guina-ang, Mainit, and Malicong); and the Central Cluster (Barangays Bontoc Ili, Caluttit, Poblacion and Samoki) .
The Riverside Zone represented by Barangay Tocucan is the champion of this year’s Street Dancing and Cultural Presentation; the ALBAGO Zone represented by Barangay Gonogon landed in 2nd place; the Central Zone represented by Barangay Caluttit came in 3rd place; the Upland Zone represented by Barangay Dalican ranked in 4th place.
Tocucan received a cash prize of P30, 000.00; Gonogon – P25, 000.00; Caluttit- P20, 000.00; and Dalican- P15, 000.00.
By Alpine L. Killa, Bontoc