Because the Igorots are now global, attending any one of their many conferences offers an opportunity for both international travel and heart-warming fellowship, like no other, with brothers and sisters of the Igorot Diaspora. The Fifth ICBE Consultation was just like that for Carolyn and me. We looked forward to it with anticipation as we traveled going in and looked back on it with fondness and satisfaction as we journeyed to places afterwards. All because ICBE 5 was an interesting, meaningful and memorable experience.
I was impressed by the enthusiasm and concern for each other and to be with each other that I saw at the conference. The enormous personal sacrifices by Rhino and Mecky Oblas, Jane Klee-Morgens and Dr. Yvonne Belen, to name a few, are expressive of this concern and enthusiasm in my view. This is what makes and sustains a sense of community and belongingness. Equally noteworthy, too, was the diversity of Igorots represented. It was wonderful to see Ifugaos, Kalingas including Tinguians and Benguets in addition to the Mountain Province all having fun and fellowship together. The presence and participation of Drs. Serafin Ngohayon and Caridad Fiar-od from the academe in Igorotlandia was special. Both offered informative discussions of their topics to the enrichment of all. I found Dr. Ngohayon‟s substantive presentation refreshing because it was new information. Very significant is the attendance of the young and their seeming eagerness to learn and participate. This is identity fixing or forming and identity affirming. I believe the experience paves their way to a sense of belonging, a much needed sense in mass society, and they will appreciate it more and more in time. To hope from the case of the young toddler who danced so marvelously and exquisitely, the attendance of the young could also be the occasion for the emergence of talent. The appreciation the entire community showed will hopefully give encouragement to her and her family to develop her obvious potential to its fullest. There may be an ICBE native in the world of dance in the horizon!
It would be remiss of me not to mention the thoughtful planning of the conference. The selection of the site could not have been better in terms of the conducive, peaceful ambience and services; the smiling and responsive nuns were a unique dimension. The bus ride and cruise along the Rhine were exquisite, offering images and feel good for a lifetime of remembrance. Those nicely manicured vineyards on a top to bottom run, the many castles that dotted the landscape and Loreley are images that, together, form a powerful and enthralling cultural landscape to recall.
Harking back to the tribal diversity noted earlier, I would like to conclude with the observation that if this means that the word “Igorot” is not an issue among the Igorots in Europe, they are a guiding light to us all, natives of the Cordillera mountains. More power to them. They understand correctly that “Igorot” means people of or from the mountains and it does not deny or cancel specific tribal identities such as, Ifugao, Kalinga or Apayao. In this sense, it is a uniting, not a dividing word. One can be a proud Igorot and a proud Ifugao, Kalinga, Ibaloi or what have you to an equal degree.
Thank you all very much, ICBE.