With the bannered theme of the 23rd Gotad ad Ifugao celebration: “Linggop, Hangleh ya Amlong (Well-being, Progress, and Happiness),” almost 3,000 representatives from the 101 various stakeholders joined the civic parade on June 13 that graced the streets of Lagawe, Ifugao.
The Philippine Army, 54th Infantry Batallion led the participating stakeholders who came from the different national agencies, municipal local government units, private and public government organizations, cooperatives, people’s organizations, and non-government organizations.
All the participants also wore their uniforms and ethnic attires as they traverse Yakal street, going back to the Provincial Plaza, Lagawe for the Grand Opening Program.
Felipe Lacbawan, 72 years old and a member of the Knights of Columbus Council, shared that Gotad ad Ifugao is an avenue to showcase, promote, and preserve the rich culture of Ifugao for the next generation.
“[Participating in the parade allows us] to show our support to our local government units and the provincial government in order to show that as part of the governance, all other sectors like non-government organizations [and] civic organizations, should always be one for development purposes,” Lacbawan added.
He also elaborated that Gotad ad Ifugao unites the 11 municipalities of the province and all of its people despite their social status.
On the other hand, residents and local tourists found their spots along the route of the civic parade to cheer for their loved ones, friends, and colleagues.
Diwata Panhon, a resident from Hingyon, stated that it is encouraging to witness the increased number of participants compared to the previous civic parades of Gotad ad Ifugao.
Panhon explained that this increased number of participants, especially among the youths, also displays the increased awareness and cooperation of Ifugaos despite their differences to work together in achieving a common goal for the progress of the province.
Moreover, Jina Sherley Gabriel, a balikbayan from Australia, expressed her excitement in seeing many of her friends in one activity and witnessed how all Ifugaos participated in the province-wide activity.
“This is only the time [that all Ifugaos] come together to celebrate being an Ifugao and the meaning of culture,” Gabriel stated.
June 13’s activity did not end after the civic parade because all the participants gathered at the Provincial Plaza, Lagawe for the Grand Opening Program that kicked-off the week-long activities of the 23rd Gotad ad Ifugao celebration.
Ifugao Vice Governor Glenn D. Prudenciano highlighted in his welcoming remarks the essence of celebrating the 57th founding anniversary of the province because this is one way of commemorating and recognizing Ifugao’s history of political independence and resiliency throughout the years.
Vice Gov. Prudenciano elaborated that Ifugao province has still a long way in terms of infrastructure development among others being the second least populated and having the second least land area among the six provinces of the Cordillera.
He reminded that there is an urgent need for Ifugaos to sacrifice in working with their leaders for the development of the province and for discovering their socio-economic and political identity as one people.
“Our concentration now should be on cooperation, understanding, and political unity in our efforts to confront socio-economic problems. We must not allow political differences to divide us. We must turn political differences as tools and instruments of the learning process for better understanding,” Vice Gov. Prudenciano stated.
Furthermore, Governor Jerry U. Dalipog conveyed his acknowledgement to all the efforts of his co-leaders for the success of the province and ensuring the well-being of every Ifugao in the preservation of humanity.
Gov. Dalipog also elaborated that the province owes its freedom to their forebearers and the rich cultural heritages of Ifugao are back living testaments of the continuous effort of Ifugaos in preserving their dynamic culture and traditions.
At the end of his message, he invited everyone on June 30 for the thanksgiving of Ifugao General Hospital, a newly-built hospital for the Ifugaos.
Additionally, Honorable Solomon R. Chungalao, lone district representative of Ifugao, challenged every Ifugao to work together for the betterment of themselves and the province.
Hon. Chungalao reminded that there is a time for everything, and this is the time for everyone to cooperate and unite in preserving the cultural identity of Ifugao.
Further, the guest speaker for the Grand Opening Program was DSWD Secretary Rex T. Gatchalian, represented by Under Secretary Rowena Niña O. Taduran.
In his speech, he highloghted that Gotad ad Ifugao coins the colorful culture of the province and a testament for Ifugaos’ resiliency towards well-being and progress.
He also encouraged every Ifugao to advocate and embrace sustainable practices that honors the province’s cultural heritages, ensuring that the next generation to come will continue to witness and see the beauty of Ifugao.
“Our Banaue Rice Terraces, a UNESCO world heritage site, stand tall as a symbol of your interconnectedness between humanity and nature. They remind us that progress can be harmonious and that development should never come at the expense of our identity,” Sec. Gatchalian reminded.
Sec. Gatchalian also emphasized the power of unity, “It is this unity that empowers us to overcome adversity, protect our shared heritage, and collectively shape our destiny. Together, we can build a future, where well-being, progress, and happiness are not just lofty ideals but tangible realities for all.”
At the end of the program, cheques amounting to one million from DSWD were awarded to the 11 municipalities of Ifugao for the Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS).
Prizes and plaques of appreciation were also awarded to the best municipal and barangay ecological social waste management implementers.
The provincial officials also led the tayo community dance that was also participated in by all the participants to show their oneness as one province. By Crael C. Lawa