BAGUIO CITY July 26 – The gong is commonly used by the different tribes of the Cordillera in the celebration of rituals to drive the evil spirits away from the villages and bring forth prosperity among the inhabitants. In turn, the Cordillera Regional Development Council (RDC-CAR) decided to use the gong as a symbol of oneness and unity among the people in the region’s renewed quest for regional autonomy.
In 2012, the RDC-CAR decided to include as one of the activities in the celebration of the founding anniversary of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) every July the so-called Unity Gong Relay where the symbolic unity gong will be travelled around the provinces and cities comprising the CAR to drum beat the aspiration for self-governance.
The Cordillera office of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG-CAR) led by regional director John M. Castañeda spearheaded the first Unity Gong Relay that allowed the symbolic unity gong to travel around the provinces which started in Baguio City and ended up in Baguio City for the celebration of the CAR founding anniversary on July 15, 2015.
In 2013, the Cordillera office of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH-CAR) led by Engr. Edilberto P. Carabbacan was the lead agency in the Unity Gong Relay that started in Baguio city and again ended up in the city. It went around the provinces of Abra, Apayao, Kalinga, Ifugao, Mountain Province and Benguet before again ending up in the city for the July 15, 2015 celebration of the CAR founding anniversary.
In 2014, it was the turn of the Cordillera office of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-CAR) led by versatile regional director Dr. Julius Caesar V. Sicat to spearhead the Unity Gong Relay that started in Abra, Baguio City, Benguet, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Kalinga, Apayao and ended up in Abra where the CAR founding aniversary celebration was held. DOST-CAR was the lead agency while the Abra provincial government led by Gov. Eustaquio Bersamin was the lead and host local government. Earlier, the RDC-Car decided that the celebration of the CAR founding anniversary should be rotated among the provinces and cities based on an alphabetical arrangement.
Aside from the symbolic turnover of the unity gong in the boundaries of the cities and provinces, the concerned local governments, in coordination with the DOST-CAR, also held separate programs where concerned stakeholders committed to support the renewed pursuit for regional autonomy. Further, the DOST-Car also turned over financial assistance to concerned groups to help them advance their production and packaging of their specialty goods In time for the implementation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN integration popularly known as ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in order to enhance the competitiveness of their products.
The 28th Car founding anniversary this year was spearheaded by the Cordillera office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-CAR) led by regional executive director Engr. Ralph Pablo as the lead agency and the Apayao provincial government under the able leadership of Gov. Elias C. Bulut as the lead and host local government. The Unity gong Relay started in Apayao, travelled to Kainga, Ifugao, Mountain Province, Benguet, Baguio City and Abra before going back to Apayao where the culminating activities were held with Senator Aquilino Pimentel III serving as guest of honor and speaker.
Next year, the lead agency for the Car founding anniversary celebration will be the Cordillera office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD-CAR under the able leadership of regional director Janet Armas and the lead and host local government will be Baguio City led by Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan.