4th Igorot Cordillera BIMAAK-Europe (ICBE) Consultation
17-20 May 2007
By Claus Nabert
Greetings Yvonne et al ...
We arrived home Thursday but even today, two days later we still suffer from some jet lag from a rather arduous trip home. That said though, the memories are happy ones.
I am not able to compare the current experience with previous ones since this was my first time participating with the ICBE. My experiences have been mostly the IICs that have been held (I missed only the first and the last), other conferences and events I've attended that are of a similar ilk, and my work within the Igorot Community in general. It is within that context that I offer my observations and thoughts.
The first thing that rather struck me was the small size of the gathering. Being used to having hundreds present this was for me a most welcome change. While large conferences have appeal, the major issue with them is that it is impossible to chat with everyone and virtually impossible to even attempt to make new friends. Such is not the case with the ICBE. The smaller gathering left me feeling I was part of a family of friends and acquaintances intent upon sharing moments together and getting to know one another. This is a very rare feeling in my experience and one that I really treasure. While we all came from different parts of the world it was as though we had never been apart. There was a wonderful comradery that made everyone feel welcome and treasured.
The program was interesting. I'm accustomed to two and a half days of intense discussion which at the best of times is emotionally and physically draining leaving one at the end feeling more a sense of relief that it's all over than a fulfillment that it's all been a lot of fun. This program left me feeling that we had spent time in a well balanced manner, some for discussion, some for chatting, and some for just having a good time.
The welcome Thursday night was delightful and set the stage for what was to come. The Friday workshops were informative and interesting without being too draining. The Saturday tour was a real treat, it was an opportunity not only see a bit of the country hosting our conference, but also to see it through the eyes of our hosts which made it a lot more meaningful of course. The gala that evening was magnificent in part for its diversity and in part for its warmth. Our last day together, Sunday, has usually been a hectic time for me where everyone is more interested in hurrying off to their next adventure. Not so here. Here it was a sad, poignant moment as we came to realize that our little family is about to be split up and be scattered all over the world again for two years before we have a chance to be together again.
The atmosphere throughout was different for me. There was no sense of any cliques, there were no underlying political machinations going on, there were none of the things one typically finds in large gatherings. Instead there was a genuine interest in each other and the issues of the moment, there was a genuine desire to explore the issues together to see what could be learned, there was an honest openness and a willingness not only to share but also to listen to each other's opinions. There was a sense that we are all equal in our endeavours. This kind of an atmosphere is what we desperately need throughout the Igorot community not only in the world but in the Cordillera too. If such an atmosphere existed there'd be a lot less strife and the future of the Igorots in the world would be secure. Perhaps it would be useful in our next gathering to find ways to export this atmosphere to others so that they too might learn to listen and work together constructively.
The venue selected had its challenges of course but on the whole I thought it was well selected. It kept us together for the three days in a setting that was peaceful, friendly, and conducive to sharing. It was the kind of setting we'd have expected in the mountains so in a way it complimented our culture and our past.
The organization was superlative. Granted things didn't always start on time, but then they rarely ever do in the best planned events, however once they were started they flowed smoothly and well throughout, something that is often rarely found. The meals were wholesome and plentiful. The odd time there was a problem our host was able to rectify it quickly and easily. BIBAK Ireland is to be applauded for their organizational skills and for the warmth with which they welcomed us and led us through the entire experience.
To my mind the only unhappy thing that occurred through our time together was to have to face the moment when it was over. Instead of us scattering to all points of the compass the moment it was complete there was clearly a reluctance among most of us to finally acknowledge that it was time to go. And while this may not have been a happy moment, it too is a moment to be treasured for it is rare for any event of this nature to create such a feeling in its participants.
As I said at the start, I cannot comment on how this gathering compares to the previous ones, but I can say that it has created a new standard in me for such things that I will be looking for in Germany in two years. It will be a challenge to recreate what we have experienced this time. And yet, having said that, I suspect that our next gathering will indeed be much of the same for it isn't just the host that creates such a lovely atmosphere, it is all the participants too. So while the host may change from one gathering to the next, the participants remain the same and they come with the same warmth for each other each time. That assures that the next one will be as nice as the present one was.
Thank you BIBAK Ireland for hosting this remarkable event and thank you to ICBE for being such an incredible warm group.
On more practical matters ...
I have a hell of a lot of pictures to organize and edit in the next two or three weeks as time permits. As I conclude various groups of pictures I'll upload them to the Internet and send out the link so everyone can share in them. Once the edits are done I'll send a CD to Yvonne with the pictures on them which she can then share. (Yvonne, please remember to eventually send me your snail mail address).
I think I also promised to write up the wish of Sunday, that will be forthcoming shortly too.
If there is something else I've forgotten please remind me.
Do have a super day