by Conchita B. Pooten (Igorot-UK)
The ICBE participants, friends and their families, ladies and gentlemen, good evening! I am deeply honoured to share with you in this meaningful week-end. Together let’s enjoy the ICBE Conference no matter what the weather is!
My sincere thanks to the ICBE co-organisers from its planning stage to this very fruitful conference packed with insightful and fun program. The well-chosen and striking conference theme “Living our Igorot Values” allowed us another forum to celebrate and educate us further on the Igorot culture and values as the contributing factor on our resilience and successes in our own fields of endeavour. Also, my appreciative thanks to our beloved friends, the Ifugao delegation headed by Dr. Serafin Ngohayon, who heeded to our invitation without hesitation and had to travel all the way from the Philippines. Of course, I would not forget all our friends who helped in many ways, big and small, to make this ICBE a successful event. Amidst the presence of one or two antagonists, making every event normal, these friends stood firm thick and thin. Everybody is welcome and my sincere apology if I failed to mention anybody who sacrificed either his time or finances to be here in this week-end. I reiterate, you are all welcome.
My family and I extend my greetings to all who were unable to be here yet they have shared warm wishes and support. They are in our hearts and thoughts.
In the opening prayer, a few seconds was given to Raymund Dengay who just passed away and is now in the funeral home. I already arranged to accompany the body on my flight back to the Philippines after the ICBE Conference. May he rest in peace! May he cooperate that we rejoice and give him the vigil later before he will be flown back home. While I only knew him when already dead, our Igorot value is always to lend a helping hand. With our Igorot values, some would say, it has paved the way for many Igorots to have survived and lived as successful migrants abroad.
On the history of ICBE for the benefit of those who do not know, it was sixteen years ago in August 1995 when we held our first Igorot-UK organisational meeting. The first officers were inducted by then Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan. The organisation was an offshoot of our participation in the earlier Igorot International Conference held in Los Angeles, California spearheaded by the late Rex Botengan. With the organised Igorot-UK, we bidded to host the 4th Igorot International Conference in 2002 where there were almost 600 participants but we were able to handle without hassle even with the very few who were working but had put their heart and soul in it. They set a very good challenge that we agreed to host the ICBE now. I remember the IIC in 2002 when my very young children, my siblings, cousins were all my assistants.
My support to Igorot-UK and my participation to other BIBAK organisations worldwide like the Northeast Kanyaw in Virginia, USA, the IICs in Missouri bore fruit. These turned out an opportuned time for my children to have met their boyfriends who are now their loving husbands. As I understood the ways of Igorot living during activities, the more I became a staunch advocate of Igorot culture. I would even partake in Igorot rituals. Convinced that rituals are the Igorots’ way of life, I am fortunate that I had my late father who had imbibed in me what it all meant to be ritualistic. It all meant sharing and getting the blessings continually. My father is right. The blessings come abundantly and I can always give a living testimony but that is better seen than said. What I am proud of is that I raised my children within the bounds of Igorot culture in UK, they met their husbands and were wedded in the western style in 5-star hotels and had it in Igorot wedding celebration in the Philippines, they have their young children (my grandchildren) and they having their own jobs and business. That is the prize for having exposed them to the Igorot culture. These are blessings in my life being a living proponent of the Igorot culture.
Speaking in behalf of the Igorot-UK, I am also here to extend my support and to represent my commitment to the organisation which I took part in its establishment. Similarly, just like others who are here from Germany, Netherlands, Ireland, Austria, Belgium, I renew and pledge my continued support to whatever endeavour that ICBE may go into.
Thank you very much and I wish you Happy Easter. Jesus has risen!