Written by Grace Nabus on .

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  The Opening Programme

    Grace Nabus

13th August 2015, Vienna, Austria. The 8th Igorot Cordillera  BIMAAK Europe (ICBE) Consultation opened at the halls of Hotel Ibis in Wien Mariahilf as Vienna basked in the 39 degree summer heat.

As the ICBE returns to Vienna for the second time, the participants gathered together in the evening after dinner for the opening program hosted by Mrs Hilda Bounggik-Alingcao and Mr George Florendo of Igorot Austria- Cordillera.

Mr Dionisio Cutig led everyone in a community singing followed by the opening ceremony prayer in Bontoc’s local tongue by Mr Patrick McDonough, CEO of Igorot Global Organisation. From the opening prayer alone, the character of the next few days is set as the Igorot participants mostly from Europe aimed to promote and preserve the Igorot Culture. Beating a solitary gong, Mr Patrick Bounggik delivered a heartfelt Uggayam that can only be honed by experience.

At the turnover ritual, the ICBE gangsa and key were with Joan Tavares of BIBAK Barcelona where the 7th ICBE was held. The ritual saw  the participants first danced to the beating of the gongs. The turn over was accepted by Marjorie Abeya Soaygan, President of Igorot Austria- Cordillera, the 8th ICBE host. It was a proud moment for  BIBAK Barcelona as Ms Tavares read the report of the 7th ICBE consultation and as their members stood in front in recognition of their achievement of successfully hosting such a collaborative event in 2013  among the Igorots in Europe and beyond. The anticipation was high  as  Igorot  Austria Cordillera aimed to follow such feat and hoped to deliver a consultation worthy of the Igorot culture, an aim that all Igorot groups worldwide have in common.

Igorots from other European countries made their presence known as Igorot UK president Archibald Nabus invited everyone to the Igorot UK’s 20th foundation anniversary  and 10th Grand Canao in September 2015. Speaking for Igorots in Italy, representative Bernadette Golocan Dimas of the Cordillera Migrant Workers Association of Milan (CMWA) invited participants to the 3rd Grand Canao in Como, Italy on the 24th of April 2016. Both groups are a testament to the passion that Igorots have for their culture wherever they are in the world.

Mr Ric Cuyob of Codillera Community in Belgium (Cordi-Bel) touched on ICBE’s good causes by updating the group on the ICBE Scholarship Programme at the Ifugao State University.

The introduction of the participants marked the essence of the 8th ICBE consultation, that it is a people’s consultation, that it is the participants’ involvement that makes it worthwhile. Our ancestors would have been so proud to see that so far away from our mountain dwelling in Northern Philippines, we look back and practice our culture and in doing so, we work hard in promoting and preserving it. The ICBE has also become a popular venue for Igorots to gather for ‘work and play’ as a number  of  stunning European cities played host to this biennial event. The expectations from each participant for this ICBE were stated during the opening programme. Coming from outside Europe, there were participants from the Philippines, Canada (BIBAK OTTAWA) and USA. Around Europe, there were participants coming from Austria (Igorot Austria Cordillera and Igorot Austria), Switzerland (BIBAK Switzerland), Netherlands, Belgium (CORDI-BEL), Spain (BIBAK Barcelona), Italy as represented by Igorots in Rome (Ulnos ti Mountain Province Rome) and Milan (Cordillera Migrant Workers Association of Milan),   Sweden, Germany and the loudest cheer came from London’s Igorot UK as they have biggest number of participants (19) for this ICBE.

The opening program of this year’s ICBE marked an important event in the European Igorot Calendar- it is here where the host organisation (and country) makes a first impression, it has become a venue to meet new friends, to reignite the passion for culture, to be ready to make important changes and to prepare ourselves to be heard as a people, as a culture. This has been an important day to communicate the goals and objectives of the ICBE and with Dr. Yvonne Belen of Netherlands at the center of communication, what could possibly go wrong?

In the summer heat of Vienna, the city of Dreams  and Music, the ICBE kicked off full of hope and dreams, the gongs were ready and alive, the participants were getting ready to wear and adorn their  traditional clothes. It was indeed a great welcome to the travel weary participants.

God Bless the ICBE. God Bless the Igorots.

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