By CHRISTINE MONCADO
THE NETHERLANDS — At last the sound of Kabunian gongs has reached the Netherlands!
After decades of missing the warmth and homeliness of having a home away from home, the MABIKAs Foundation-The Netherlands has finally sprung to life to bridge the gap. The acronym MABIKA stands for the 6 provinces in the Cordillera, namely Mountain Province, Abra, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Apayao; lower case ‘s’ simply signifies plurality. Needless to say, the word mabika in our local language means strong.
The organization aims to unite and empower all Netherlands-based Cordillerans through education and deeper understanding of their ancestral and cultural roots and further establish ties with other Cordillera organizations abroad as well as with Filipino and Dutch communities in the Netherlands.
The making of MABIKAs Foundation couldn’t be possible without the strong determination of its Founding Chairperson Myra Colis, coupled with an unending support from fellow Cordillerans: Cesar Taguba of the Ecumenical Ministry for Filipinos Abroad and Yvonne Belen of the Igorot Cordillera BIMAAK Europe (ICBE). The groundwork for the establishment of the organization couldn’t also be possible without the solid support and cooperation of the pioneering member of the Board and kakailyans who’ve joined to build a thriving community of Cordillerans in the Netherlands and beyond.
In cooperation with the Cordillera Community in Belgium (Cordi-Bel), the Cordillera group in the Netherlands held its very first gathering on December 10, 2017. Marked by cultural community dancing with the music of the gongs and solibao played interchangeably by participants that day, the gathering has left a feeling of nostalgia expressed by their words, ‘a home away from home’.
From eight pioneers to currently 20 active volunteers and over 50 members on its Facebook group, MABIKAs Foundation continues to grow with strength and purpose. Moving ahead, the foundation looks forward to hosting the 10th ICBE Conference in 2019. Its pioneers and volunteers are also excited to perform the Philippine Cordillera dances at the upcoming Philippine Independence Day celebration on June 10, 2017 in The Hague, Netherlands.
There’s much more to be done, and the MABIKAs Foundation Board of Directors and volunteering kakailyans in the Netherlands are committed to fulfill its mission of (1) building solidarity amongst Cordillerans in the Netherlands, (2) strengthening their cultural heritage, (3) promoting the Cordillera culture abroad, (4) empowering fellow Cordillerans to become beacons of light, and (5) taking some actions to uphold our dignity, rights and indigenous identity. # nordis.net