LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Members of the major indigenous peoples in the province, the Kankanaey, recently formed an organization to advance the overall interest of the indigenous peoples.
Dane Ducayag, newly elected public relations officer of the Benguet Kankanaey Organization (BEKO), said that one of the reasons for the establishment of the group is to ensure that the community will have a platform to voice out their issues and concerns as well as their aspirations for timely and appropriate actions from concerned government agencies and local governments.
He added that by coming together as a collective force, the Kankanaeys could strongly advocate for their rights, demand equal representation, and actively participate in decision-making processes that affect their lives.
Further, the establishment of the BEKO is considered a step towards empowering the community and amplifying their voices and that it can play a vital role in advocating for the recognition and protection of indigenous rights aside from securing land rights, promoting self-determination, and ensuring the inclusion of indigenous perspectives in policies and development plans.
He pointed out that by actively engaging with government agencies, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders, the Kankanaey group can actually work towards creating an environment that respects and upholds the rights of indigenous communities inside and outside the province.
According to him, creating a Kankanaey organization is crucial in empowering the youth to ensure a sustainable future for their respective communities and by actively involving young individuals in cultural activities, such as traditional dances, music, and storytelling, they are provided with opportunities to connect with their roots and develop a strong sense of pride in their heritage.
Ducayag emphasized that these engagements not only preserve their cultural practices but also instill a sense of identity and purpose among the youth.
Apart from collaborating with other indigenous peoples and their organizations, partnering with government and non-governmental organizations is crucial to enhancing the effectiveness of the BKO and that by actively engaging with these entities, the organization can access resources, secure funding for community initiatives, and influence policies that directly impact their communities.
Ducayag argued that the BEKO will serve as a vehicle in celebrating festivals, preserving their traditions and fostering unity among their communities and empowering the youth, providing educational and economic opportunities, and enabling them to collaborate with other indigenous organizations and institutions.
The organization of the provincewide Kankanaey group was spearheaded by Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representative and Board Member Recto Alawas as both the Ibaloi and Kalanguya have already established their respective groups in the province.
The BEKO officers include Marshal Tamid-ay, Vice President; James Ticbayan Secretary- Felicitas Antonio (appointed); Treasurer – Freddie Baday (appointed); Auditor – Nancy Palaog; PRO – Daniel Ducayag; Unity and Harmony Officers – Johnny Willy, Celestino Bautista, and July Balacdao. Each municipality shall have one representation each in the Council of Elders as follows: Itogon – Evelyn Langban; Bakun – Rebecca Talbino; Buguias – Rogelio Bolinto; La Trinidad – Paul Bagano; Kibungan – Ramon Daculog; Kapangan – Erminio Sucladan, and Tuba – Freda Pasian
All the other municipalities who have yet to select their representatives are given until December 15, 2023 to decide. Signing of the Constitution and Bylaws as well as oath-taking of officers shall be held on the same day at the Provincial Capitol Legislative Building.