Progressive youth lead 25th Kaigorotan Youth Week


BAGUIO CITY — On the theme, “Tignay Agtutubo: Living the tradition of courage and unity, advancing the struggle for land, life and resources!”, Kaigorotan Youth Week (KYW) was observed with a month-long series of activities this March. Cordilleran Youth Center (CYC), Progressive Igorot for Social Action (PIGSA) and BIBAK Federation led the KYW collaborating with different schools, indigenous youth organizations and the Baguio City Council’s Committee on Education, Culture and Historical Research headed by Hon. Peter Fianza.

HERITAGE. Indigenous youth displayed and played some Cordillera indigenous instruments as part of their way to educate the wider public about the indigenous culture, history and traditions. Photo courtesy of PIGSA

The commemoration of the KYW started way back in 1993 in honour of the brave Igorot youth during the 1980s who were violently dispersed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in a mass demonstration as they protest and opposed destructive projects that are set to enter the region, such as the Chico dam and Cellophil logging concession and the spread of cultural vulgarization during the then-Grand Cañao and Highland Festivals.

Even the Baguio City Council acknowledged the relevance of commemorating this historic event and bravery of the Igorot youth. Several ordinances were passed in the City council in institutionalizing the activity and declaring March 1-5 as the KYW. There is the 1993 resolution, the 2014 city ordinance and this year, another resolution is filed by Hon. Peter Fianza to allocate more funds for the KYW”, PIGSA spokesperson Casselle Ton said.

The series of activities included an on-going online campaign dubbed as the Kaigorotan Youth Speak, a gathering of Baguio high school students held last March 23 at the Saint Louis School Center as the Kaigorotan Youth Exhibit, and the KYW culminating program, Kaigorotan Youth Jam held last March 25 at Malcolm Square.

Meanwhile, various youth groups also staged protests and indignation activities last March 17 in commemoration of the first year anniversary of the Malibcong bombings.

“The KYW offered this year an array of activities and platform where at least 1000 Baguio indigenous youth were able to mobilize themselves. Different schools and communities such as the Benguet State University, University of the Cordilleras, Pacalsco National High School among others even expressed their interest to mount the Kaigorotan Youth Exhibit and host related activities in their schools and communities even after KYW” said Julius Daguitan, BIBAK Federation convenor.

KYW also conducted training workshops in preparation for the 34th People’s Cordillera Day being led by the Cordillera Peoples Alliance.

“It is indeed a continuing challenge for the Kaigorotan youth to truly imbibe our identity as Igorots – as bearers of a rich cultural tradition and long-history of resistance. This April, the youth are gearing up to engage even more as we participate in another milestone in the Cordillera people’s movement – the People’s Cordillera Day – that will be held here in Baguio”, Ton added.

Meanwhile, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) also conducted their own set of activities in line with KYW. “While we acknowledge their initiative, it is indeed outright hypocrisy for an anti-IP commission such as NCIP to commemorate a historic event of the indigenous youth movement while at the same time, continue to serve as an instrument for the entry of big destructive projects in indigenous peoples communities, not only in the region but in the whole country at large, through bogus FPIC and other mechanisms” said Ton.

“We challenge the NCIP that If they are true to their advocacy in advancing the indigenous peoples rights and welfare; to join the call to junk the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and to prohibit the plunder of our resources, to seek justice for the victims of human rights violations and to end militarization and to pull-out militrary troops in indigenous communities!”, added Ton. #


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