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More than a hundred food packs, composed of five (5) kilograms of rice, 8 assorted canned goods, a kilo vegetables each, were distributed to stranded IP students from Besao Mountain Province who are all currently studying in Baguio and LaTrinidad.
All IP student beneficiary hail from Besao. One of the remotest municipalities of Mountain Province situated at the west most part and boundary area between the province of Abra. Students came to Baguio, the education capital of the north, with the aim to attain formal education.
Cordillera values of Binnadang and Inayan
Aiding stranded IP students in Baguio and LaTrinidad or anyone who are in distress is an expected practice from the IPs of Cordillera. The Binnadang values between and among the IPs of Cordillera is predicated on the norm; in times of crisis and/or distress, all should be united and collectively lend a hand to those who are in need. Time and again, in the Cordillera, this value was reflected in times of floods, landslides, earthquakes, famine, drought etc. It is inherent to all Cordillerans. It is a non-reciprocal aid to fellow Cordillerans which emanates from the heart; it is voluntary, immediate, direct, and automatic.
Another inherent value from the IPs, especially to Mountain Province, is the infamous Inayan or the recognition of karma and/or the fear from their supreme deity, Kabunian. Most of the time, Inayan plays as the unseen conscience of the IPs of the Cordillera. Inayan keeps you up at night. It is akin to a toothache if you’re at fault; or an itch that needs scratching, if you just sat on the fences doing nothing knowing that you could’ve done something for the distress populace.
Even when not affected by calamities, Cordillerans especially the farmers, whom have less financial capacity in life, have tons of vegetables to give. One may recall the vegetables sent to stricken communities of Tagaytay when Taal volcano erupted or the truck loads of Sayotes to the surviving families of the earthquake that hit Mindanao. Not to mention that they are still sending vegetables to the LGUs of Manila for distribution as relief despite that, they themselves, are experiencing hunger due to the lockdown.
Still conscious with the IP values of Binnadang, Atty. Atanacio Addog, likewise belonging to the natives of Besao or self-ascribed as Applai IP group, after having attained his formal education and now seated as the Regional Legal Officer of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples – Cordillera Administrative Region (NCIP – CAR), always looks back to his community and its values and extends his services by distributing relief packs to the stranded students.
Addog squeezes time from his busy schedule to repack reliefs for the stranded IP students. He also volunteers his vehicle and likewise drive the same in delivering repacked reliefs to students. In his regular time, under the ‘work from scheme’ apart from his legal functions, he coordinates with projects proponents situated within the Ancestral Domains as to the compliance of their obligations stipulated in their Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with host IP communities. A lawyer by profession and true blue IP by blood and heart.
According to him, reliefs came from the joint efforts of the some IPs in Besao residing in Baguio and LaTrinidad along with the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Besao who happens to be IPs themselves.
Addog sees himself as a young lad through the IP students who are also striving to attain formal education here in the city while being away from their families trying to make ends meet through the meager ‘padala’ coming from their parents.
“In the City, IP students stick and fend for each other. This way, they compensate, even just for a moment, their home sickness. Most of these IP students are renting boarding houses and/or dormitories in the City. For their sustenance, most students, especially those non-working students, rely solely to the ‘padala’ from their parents. And when these ‘padala’ gets temporarily stalled due to the lockdown, the Binnadang value steps in”, said Addog.
He added that this situation is not isolated as the rest of the IP students studying in Baguio and LaTrinidad coming from the different provinces in CAR, not only in Mountain Province, share the same problems in this time of crisis. But be that as it may, LGUs from the different provinces of CAR are going the extra mile, extending efforts to aid other stranded IP students.
In their previous delivery of food packs last April 18, 2020, stranded IP students from Besao were reminded by Addog and other volunteers to standby and not to leave their boarding houses. “Sed-en yu nan watwat yu ta e danon mi isnan pantew yu” (Your share of relief packs will be delivered at your doorstep) Addog disclosed that they were able to secure a good number of oversized chickens, and that they will be butchering the same to be distributed to the stranded students. Addog assures that they will be butchering the chickens following the process of Pikpik (The chicken will be beaten softly through its neck and wings so that the blood inside the chicken will coagulate. Then the chicken will be thrown at an open fire until feathers are burned off). Burned feathers and skin along with the coagulated blood of the chicken gives flavoring and aroma to the Pinikpikan (famous dish of the IPs in Cordillera).
“It’s been more than a month since the quarantine was imposed, for sure these stranded IP students are craving for Pinikpikan”, said Addog.
Just days after the lockdown was imposed, LGUs and other kind hearted IPs of CAR sent vehicles to fetch IP students stranded in Baguio. According to Addog, they received report that LGUs from the provinces of Ifugao, Kalinga and Mountain Province sent vehicles to ferry stranded IP student back to their homes in the province.
Some students boarded these vehicles while some opted stay behind in Baguio and LaTrinidad. They have no choice but to stay behind because their schools resumed its online classes; and that there is scarcity of internet connection and mobile signal in the remote areas of their provinces in CAR.
“Wasdin mang kawwan as salun-at na amed adwani ay didigra tapno mawakgat nan batawa et awnet kasiyana” (Collectively, we take of each other in this trying tribulation as when the new day breaks, we’ll get back to what it was before. This too shall pass!)
By Rocky Ngalob