Mankayan, Benguet — “Continuing Commitment in the defense of Cultural Heritage” the theme to commemorate the 14th International Day of Indigenous Peoples 2008 draws a crowd of more than 1000 to the “Ballangbang” Concert-Jam on August 16 at the Open Gym, Poblacion, Mankayan, Benguet.
The International Day of IPs was declared on August 9, 1994 by the United Nations.
According to Rima Mangili, Anakbayan spokesperson, the Ballangbang concert hoped to gather the youth of Benguet especially Mankayan for the celebration and to unite them behind their role to protect and promote the positive aspects of their cultural heritage; for their rights and welfare; and most of all to divert the youth’s attention to more productive activities.
The concert was co – sponsored by the Samahan ng mga Kabataang Episcopalian ng Pilipinas of Mankayan (SKEP-Mankayan), Mankayan National High School – MAPEH Department, Mankayan, National High School – Cultural Group, Lepanto National High School – Student Body Organization (LNHS – SBO).
The performers included: the internationally aclaimed IP-rights activist, Salidummay-Dap-ayan ti Kultura ti Kordilyera (SALIDUMAY-DKK) belted out their popular native compositions to the beat of traditional gongs and various bamboo instruments depicting historical and current social and political issues confronting indigenous people not only in the Cordillera but in the country as well.
The Dessert Band and Nashville Vaga Band rendered their best of alternative folk and rock songs. Chester Mark Tuazon and Ransky Balacdao respectively in behalf of their bands expressed their statement of unity with the organizers and supporters of the concert.
Jhun Utleg sang his heart out great songs from his album “Sa Kanyang Panahon.” Anakbayan performer Efren Tuacan along with the many country and folk singers of Mankayan gave their best to make The IP Night 2008 a real night to Remember at Mankayan, the first localized celebration of IP Day in the Province.
The president of the LEU-NAFLU-KMU Manuel Binhaon, in solidarity gave a brief worker’s situation of the Lepanto Consolidated Mining Company. According to Mr. Binhaon almost 85% of the 1,477 mine workers of LCMCo are from indigenous communities of the Cordillera. He added “dakami nga mangmangged nga minero iti daytoy nga pagtrabahuan ket agsagsagrap iti nakaro nga kinarigat nababa nga sweldo, nakurang a benepisyo, saan a natalged a pagtrabuan ken panangliplipit iti unyon”.
With our low wages and high cost of basic commodities we can’t really afford to provide the basic needs of our children like education, health and the like. He further challenged and encouraged the youth to actively participate in such venue and activities and be a member of ANAKBAYAN that will help them realize their role as the future leader to the next generation.
Kagawad Mathew Bataneg of Bry. Poblacion, in his welcome address that night said that Ballangbang means unity “nu ti panagtukar ti gangsa ket saan nga agkakatunos, ti kayat na laeng a saoen dayta ket awan ti panagkayakaysa” (translation here).
Encouraged by the broad public response, the sponsors through spokes Rima Mangili said “ This is the starting point for us to continue gathering the broadest reach to indigenous youth and students to support and look forward to the next celebration in the year 2009 as well as for other activities that will enrich the youth awareness”.
The celebration called it a night end with a community pattong and closing remarks delivered by Ms. Rima Mangili that challenged the youth to continue and also the Local Government Unit of Mankayan to look into the welfare of the indigenous youth, provide venue for their full-development. She stressed the role of the LGU in the protection of the environment. “Our government officials here in Benguet should not allow projects that are detrimental to the indigenous people of Benguet and to the environment, she added.
The celebration also served as a venue to popularize the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Solidarity messages from the different sectors were read out to the audience.# Elma R. Awingan