BAGUIO CITY – For the second half of 2017, the Regional Development Council (RDC) and the National Economic and Development Authority, in partnership with The Cordillera Connection, conducted a series of concert-fora that aimed to raise awareness on regional autonomy for the youth sector with La Trinidad, Tabuk, Bontoc and Lamut witnessing the information and education campaign of the RDC in preparing the Cordillera youth for regional autonomy.
Gov. Bonifacio Lacwasan of Mountain Province, in his opening remarks during the Bontoc leg of the series, emphasized the need for the youth to continue the struggle for autonomy saying the Cordillera autonomy pioneers of the last four decades are aging and it is up to a new generation of Cordillerans to continue securing their rights and cultural heritage.
Also in the Bontoc leg, Atty. Amador Batay-an, provincial administrator of Mountain Province and a member of the IEC Speakers’ Bureau echoed the sentiments of the past generation saying, “Before July 15, 1987, there was no Cordillera to talk about…[before] that time we were not a region; we were nothing.”
Referring to the risk of relegating the provinces back to the old administrative regions if a third plebiscite fails, Atty. Fritz Turqueza of the IEC Speakers’ Bureau and DILG-CAR addressed the crowd in the La Trinidad leg saying, “You have to secure your future, you have to secure the region, you have to secure your permanent cultural identity.”
The concert-fora has excited the interest of the youth with students repeatedly clamoring for more expanded discussions on autonomy like one student from Lamut, Ifugao who suggested that “activities like this must have a time allotted to express and explain more [on] the given topic for us students.”
Another student from Bontoc recognized the need to expand the reach of the information and education campaign saying, “Invite the schools in the barrios and not only in the central barangays. Educating the people in the barrios open-up their minds since they know little of autonomy. Thanks NEDA!”
Aside from the concert-fora, more activities are lined up for the youth sector this 2018 such as theatre and street plays about the struggle for Cordillera autonomy and self-determination, and in-depth student fora delving deeper on the topics.
By Marlo T. Lubguban