Report on the Closing Session (May 1, 2017)

Written by Yvonne Belen on .

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9th Igorot Cordillera BIMAAK Europe (ICBE) Consultation
Rome, Italy
April 28 – May 1, 2017 

Report on the Closing Session (May 1, 2017)

By Yvonne Belen

Picnic at the Park

The last session of the 9th ICBE Consultation was a picnic at Villa Park Borghese on the first of May.

At around 9:00 am, some of us participants who were attending the closing session, gathered at the Termini near the store of “United Colors of Benetton.” We were from Austria, Barcelona, Belgium, Madrid, Naples, The Netherlands, Rome and the UK. Some brought along their luggage since they planned to go to the airport after lunch.

From the Termini, we took a bus going to the park with Grace Banto as our guide. While in the bus, Grace was busy talking to some participants and she forgot to press the button at the place where we were supposed to get off. “Oh, we already passed the bus stop,” she said. Everybody was laughing. Grace said, “We will get off at the next stop.”

We walked uphill to the park. There were many trees all around. The sun was up but it was windy. It felt like it was 20 degree Celsius. We arrived at the top of the park, which was flat. Just fit for a picnic, so I thought. “Cordillerans in Rome” (Cordi-Rome) members must have gone to the park early and chose a section near the wall. Although there were other persons having a picnic in different areas of the park, we were at a place apart. Cordi-Rome prepared the food. There were pots and plastic containers spread on the big plastic on the ground. Joel and Joan Casasiempre donated a whole lechon and it was waiting to be butchered!  

Some of the ladies went to other parts of the park where there was a lake. I also saw the lake with people boating. I said, “It’s like Burnham Park in Baguio City.”


While Cordi Rome members were preparing our lunch, we conference participants had an oral evaluation. Rosmar Smith, president of Cordi-Rome and yours truly took turns in recording the comments and suggestions.

These are the evaluation results:

  1. Congratulations to Cordi-Rome. The conference was successful. We met new friends, relatives and schoolmates.
  2. The general activity is good.
  3. Thank you to the host. I liked the whole activity. The time is lacking.
  4. Thank you everyone, especially those who came from outside Italy. I met a relative. In general, the program is good. Igorots always put a smile on their face to welcome visitors.
  5. It is an opportunity to be part of the program. I didn’t feel out of place. We are Igorots at heart.
  6. God allows things to happen. It’s my first time to attend an ICBE consultation and it’s totally opposite of what I thought about the conference. Love is seen in the Cordillera community.  
  7. The conference is successful. It gave us a chance to reconnect with people, land and culture. We sang hymns of the different provinces of the Cordillera, which affirms our identity. Singing the Cordillera hymn gives us a higher identity and singing the Philippine national anthem gives us the highest identity. During the workshops, the participants were responsive. Through the ICBE, we assert our identity. The Bendian dance was touching and helped me recall happy days during my childhood. We have enabled the second-generation to come together. While many wanted to perform during the Cultural Night, how to do it is the next problem.
  8. We need to have time management.
  9. When discussing the province of Benguet, include all topics. For example, on the peoples of Benguet-include the Karao, Kalanguya and Kankanaey.
  10. It would have been good if the second-generation formed a group to respond to the questions during the group discussion workshops.
  11. Signages are needed at the venue so those coming from countries outside Italy can find the place.
  12. It would have been better if some parts of Gil Catimo’s speech were in a powerpoint presentation.
  13. The venue should be open for 24 hours.
  14. The bed can be softer.
  15. Breakfast can be improved.

When it was Cordi-Bel’s turn to give their evaluation, Ric Cuyob sang a song he composed for the 9th ICBE Consultation. He sang it to a Cordillera melody. Afterwards, it was recommended that the lyrics will be included in the song sheet of the 10th ICBE Consultation.

Lechon for lunch

We enjoyed the lunch of rice, vegetables, lechon and other foodstuff. The lechon was enticing and I’m sure all of us had a bite or more. What I ate were some pieces of lean meat and a few of the “crackling skin.” Delicious. 

Learning Cordillera Dances

Since some participants had a plane to catch by late afternoon, they left for the airport after lunch. For those of us who stayed, it was a time to dance. The men beat the gongs while we ladies danced. Some young men and women at the park saw us dancing and they joined us.

Afterwards, I approached a lady, who was dancing the Ifugao dance and requested her to teach me the steps of the dance. She turned out to be Carmencita “Bugan” Pallay, and she patiently taught me the hand and feet movements of the Ifugao dance. She also said, “When you are dancing, imagine you are an eagle looking for a prey.”

Later on, Cordi-Rome members were performing the Bendian dance. The men beat the gongs and solibao while Rosmar Smith led the ladies in the dance. During the second round, she invited me to dance. It was my first time to perform the Bendian dance. I was following other ladies’ footsteps as they kicked their right foot outward. We were also following Rosmar as she announced the eight hand positions: Pinasbikan, Salawasao, Kinitangan, Kinikian, Inushongan, Inushongan, Pinadjusan, Inabaya. After the dance, I felt tired but happy to have learned another Cordillera dance.

Ending a Conference

A picnic is an informal way to end a conference. There is a different ambiance with the surroundings like the trees and scenery, food and dancing. The other members of Cordi-Rome must have stayed at the park. After saying our goodbyes and thanking everyone, we left the park. And so ended another ICBE consultation with memories we can look back to. 

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