The second Kelmekan or Gemgeman Festival with the theme “Sustaining Partnership for Indigenous Peoples Education,” was held at Tublay School of Home Industries – Main in Acop, Tublay, Benguet on March 13.
Kelmekan and gemgeman are ibaloy and kankanaey words which means to hold something firmly so it would not go away or be lost. “There is a need for us to hold firmly the Benguet culture and traditions as well as our values so it wouldn’t be lost forever,” says Mrs. Elizabeth Anton, the chairperson of the program.
The guest speaker, Mr. Sasha Joseph L. Daganos, Division IPEd Coordinator, gave the statement of the Department of Education on the Indigenous Peoples Education (IPEd) and shed light on the frequently asked questions regarding its implementation reiterating that one of the goals of such occasions is the recollection of the values that are absorbed from the cultural practices of Benguet.
Mr. Nestor Tap-ayao, a member of the Regional and Division Council of Elders, and Mr. Willie L. Velasco, the former Mayor of Tublay, emphasized the values that could be learned from the old ways such as the spirit of communal unity and generosity.
Through the program, the students were able to showcase their talents and skills in the indigenous music, dances, songs and chants and even experienced cooking pinikpikan, dukto (camote), ava (cassava), and pising (gabi).
Each grade level was assigned to perform a certain dance and chant from the different ethnic groups of Benguet specifically the Ibaloi, Kalanguya, Kankanaey and Karao tribes. The grade 7 students performed the Bendiyan dance; grade 8 students danced the tallak of Kibungan and Kapangan; grade 9 students performed the Hagigi of the kalanguya tribe; grade 10 students presented the ginalching; grade 11 students chanted a day-eng of the Kankanaey tribe and the grade 12 students sang a local song. The Diyang Cultural Performing Group also performed a dance drama featuring the story of “Pakkong,” an instrument carried by Benguet women when they go to the fields to drive away snake and evil spirits.
IPEd games such as kinujoran (tug-of-war), salikawkaw, and sack race were also promoted. Every grade level also constructed their own hut where they displayed their products such as vegetables, home-made food, pinikpikan, and tapey (rice wine).
The first kelmekan/gemgeman festival took place last March 8, 2017 with the theme “Kelmekan e sigud ja kaugadian.”
By Mavis P. Ebas