(associacion BIBAK Barcelona)
Let me start my article on the officers of BIBAK association of Barcelona from the beginning of its founding. I hope it will also serve as our history file.
It was on April 14, 2009 when the Igorots in Barcelona planned to have an organization. Sometime in 2004 though, some Igorots in Barcelona began contacting each other.
Loreta Kilongan was one of the Igorots who came to Barcelona. Through her intercession, Edwin Culaling visited our family, Julie, my wife and our two children, in 2004. We came to know each other and became friends easily since we are both Igorots. However, Edwin went to Marbella to work there for sometime.
In January 2009, I learned that Freda Changat came to Barcelona as a research student. The first Igorot she was able to contact was Edwin and she proposed the plan to organize a BIBAK organization. He willingly supported the plan.
Freda and Edwin met Violie Gacao Doguil at “Mother’s Best” restaurant then Freda requested Violie to accompany her to meet our family. Edwin was at work and was unable to join them. Prior to this meeting, Freda was able to get my phone number from Sr. Paulita Astillero of Centro Pilipino.
It was on April 14, 2009 that Violie and Freda visited Julie. It was their first time to meet each other. Julie invited them for dinner at “La Fonda,” the restaurant where I’m working. During dinner, the topic of whereabouts of other Igorots and number of those working in Barcelona came up. So, we planned to gather information on the Igorots during the coming weeks. Julie told them that there was never an attempt to organize Igorots in Barcelona since we only know of a handful after living for more than two decades in the city.
Freda was assigned to make announcements in the social network and spread information to other Filipinos, who know of any from Baguio City. Violie suggested the “Mothers Best Pinoy” restaurant in Calle Joaquin Costa as the venue of our meeting. It was owned by Roberto Balinguit and Ellen Facunla Balinguit. Violie knew them since it so happened they are from Baguio but of lowland origin. They willingly accepted our request that their restaurant will be the venue. Later on, they joined the association.
We had our first meeting of Igorots in Barcelona on April 22, 2013. There were more than 30 from the Cordillera who attended. Everybody was eager to meet each other, some shed tears as they introduced themselves. Right then, we agreed to form an Igorot organization.
Election of first set of officers
On May 3, 2009, we elected our first BIBAK Barcelona association officers. They were:
President Gil T. Catimo,
Vice-President Evelyn M. Castro
Secretary Annette Banya-ao
Treasurer Marvin Mones
Auditor Edwin Culaling
Sgt. at arms Roberto Balinguit and Dionesia V. Balisnak
Coordinators of cultural dances Violie Doguil and Crisanto Culaling
Coordinator of External Relations Freda Changat.
After the election, we started drafting our constitution and by-laws based on the requirements of the Justice Ministry of Catalunya, Spain. On June 28, 2009, we were inducted by then Consul General Hon. Eduardo de Vega. He was assisted by Sister Paulita Astillero.
By sharing our unique culture, the organization started to integrate in the community of Barcelona by joining some festivities where Filipino organizations were invited by the local government. Since then, BIBAK Barcelona made its mark in the city, winning recognition, appreciation and respect. BIBAK Barcelona also extended cash donation to the victims of the devastating typhoon Pepeng in La Trinidad, Benguet and in Tadian, Mountain Province.
After one year, the government of Catalunya, Spain recognized us as a legal association and approved our constitution and by-laws, and gave us a CIF number (identifying number).
Election of second set of officers
We had our second election of officers on May 2011.
The officers were:
President Gil T. Catimo
Vice-President Evelyn M.Castro
Secretary Annette Banya-ao
Treasurer Victor Najera
Auditor Edwin Culaling
Sgt. at arms Marvin Mones and Roberto Balinguit
Coordinators for cultural dances Crisanto Culaling and Violie Doguil.
We were inducted by Consul Armand Talbo during a picnic at Les Planes.
Present set of officers
Last June 9, 2013, we had our election of new set of officers for the next two years. It was supposed to be last May, but we postponed it since we were hosting the 7th Igorot Cordillera BIMAAK Europe (ICBE) Consultation. It was a satisfaction on my part when my colleagues were convincing me to continue as president but I really could not because of added responsibility in my job.
Our new set of officers are:
President Victor Najera
Vice-President Alice Belino
Secretary Cynthia Bolayo
Treasurer Annette Banya-ao
Auditor Dionesia V. Balisnak
PRO Joan Tavares-Inabiohan.
We now have a lesser number of officers because many have left to work outside Barcelona. We also don’t have business manager because in our constitution, we are a non-profit organization, so there will be a conflict when we fill that position.
Our activities in the past included a collaboration in all activities with the Philippine consulate in Barcelona when they solicit our cooperation as an association. For example, in the campaign against drugs that was affecting our Filipino community, we helped in posting drug campaign posters and included this topic in our monthly meeting.
We also accepted the recommendation of the Philippine consulate to represent the Filipino community in the 2011 Casa Asia Festival, presenting Igorot dances like balangbang, Kalinga dance and courtship dance. Edwin played an important role. He taught us the Mountain Province pattong, thus acting as the cultural coordinator since his brother Crisanto Culaling was busy in his job.
Being also a member of the KALIPI, a federation of Filipino associations in Barcelona, we collaborated with projects of the federation for the Filipino community. This is especially in our integration and cooperation for a harmonious living with our host country. We have been present in almost all cultural and Philippine Independence Day commemoration, always presenting our Igorot culture. We have been cooperating with KALIPI in giving donation during natural catastrophe, like typhoon Ondoy in the Philippines. This year, a devastating calamity passed through a part of a valley in Mindanao where our incumbent president has a relative. We contributed a small donation and received a big acknowledgment.
I like also to include, if this can be considered achievement of the association, the death aid program. All individual members will give a cash contribution to a BIBAK member who is bereaved of a first-degree family member.
Finally, on May 9-12, 2013, we hosted the 7th Igorot Cordillera BIMAAK Europe (ICBE) Consultation, a biennial gathering of Igorot Cordillerans in Europe.