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BAGUIO CITY – Known as the indigenous peoples (IP) youth sanctuary in the early 80’s, BIBAK Dormitories, now BIBAK (BIMAAK) Multipurpose Hall, opened its doors to IP youth and students to commemorate the gallantry of the IP youth in the defense of their land, life and resources in Cordillera during the late Marcos dictatorship.
National Commission on Indigenous Peoples – Cordillera Administrative Region (NCIP-CAR), focal person on IP Culture program, Gary Dong-gayao said that the commemoration is in consonance with the Baguio City Ordinance number 11 series of 2014 recognizing March 1-5 as Kaigorotan Youth Week (KYW). Said ordinance is also a stem from the city resolution championed by then Sanguniang Kabataan president, Florence Ibarra in 1993.
Instead of a weeklong event, NCIP-CAR extend their celebration for the whole month of March. It can be recalled that the KYW is an annual event to commemorate the struggles of the valiant Igorot youth who were violently dispersed in a peaceful student demonstration in Baguio City during the 1980s. The demonstration was a protest against the simultaneous mega-projects of the Marcos government that would displace indigenous communities in the Cordillera. Among these destructive schemes being opposed then were the Chico River Dam Project in Kalinga, the Cellophil logging concession in Abra, Kalinga and Mt. Province and the Grand Canao in Baguio city in the Cordillera.
Dong-gayao added, “more than just a commemoration, KYW serves as a reminder to all IP youths and students of their social duties towards their IP communities in shielding their environment away from degradation and their ever sacred culture from further bastardization and consumerism.”
NCIP CAR’s commemoration of KYW will be series of educational discussions from topics that concerns the IP youth of Cordillera particular on; Cordillera history and situation and the IPRA law. Dong-gayao also disclosed that they will also lecturing on Juvenile Justice and Welfare act, basic human rights, labor law and other paralegal trainings.
Resource speakers and trainers will be coming from their office. “We are equipping our IP youths and students, mostly in the tertiary level, with the necessary tools which they can use once they exit the walls of their schools” said Dong-gayao. He also added that topics were handpicked by him for the reason that these mentioned topics are those that are not taught in college. Most importantly, topics meet the needs of the IP youth in today’s current situation in our society.
“We hope that after these series of educational lectures, keeping true to the message of the Kaigorotan Youth Week spirit, our IP youth will also impart their newly acquired wisdom to their respective communities that badly needs lifting from the educated youth”, said Dong-gayao.
NCIP-CAR have already started with their lecture series last March 4, 2017 at the BIBAK (BIMAAK) Hall where they conducted a discourse before the IP students and youths, mostly cultural performers from different schools of Baguio and Benguet, on Cordillera history and issue. Considering that attendees were also the same cultural performers during the recently concluded Panagbenga street parade, NCIP CAR zeroed in their discussion on IP Culture Sensitivity and the IPRA law.
NCIP-CAR followed with their series of lectures the following day catering to the request of Happy Hallow National High School who was also commemorating the KYW.
Said lecture series will continue the succeeding Sundays of March at the BIBAK (BIMAAK) Hall in the afternoon which will start at 1pm to 5pm. “Part of the commemoration, is also the revival of BIBAK (BIMAAK) Hall as the IP youth sanctuary here the Cordillera. We pay homage to the contributions of BIBAK (BIMAAK) Hall to the rearing of critically minded IP youths during its glory days. It is here in BIBAK (BIMAAK) where our early wave of IP professionals was produced,” ended Dong-gayao.
By Rocky Ngalob