KIBUNGAN, Benguet – As thousands converged in the town of Kibungan for the first Kankana-ey Festival, Benguet District Representative Eric Go Yap lauded town officials while ensuring that promotion of culture and tradition of all the tribes in the province will be among his legislative priority.
“It is an absolute honor for me to be part of history, the first ever Kankana-ey Festival in Benguet. It was a fun celebration of the rich culture of the Kankana-ey tribe, our people, but more importantly, ang dami kong bagong natutunan just by speaking with our elders and yung wisdom na yun will guide me in performing my job as the representative of our people,” Yap said.
Yap, an adopted son of the Kankana-ey and was named ‘Sakduan’ vowed to further enrich the culture and tradition in the province.
“Sabi nila very ironic daw, in a good way, na I sponsored the very first Kankana-ey Festival. Kasi may mga skeptics before the election na sinasabing papatayin ko daw or babaguhin yung kultura, but none of that happened, and none of that will happen under my watch, mas lalo natin pagyayamanin pa ang kultura natin,” he said.
Aside from further enriching the rich culture and tradition of the province, Yap said it is his duty, as the province’ representative, to make sure that social services benefit everyone down to the underprivileged indigents.
“Sabi ko nga sa speech ko, despite being adopted son of Benguet, I have to fight for my place every day para maging worthy na tawaging anak. Pag ampon ka, you always have to prove yourself, kailangan mas higitan mo yung mga tunay na anak, and yun yung challenge sa akin, na hindi huminto sa pagdadala ng tulong at development sa probinsya with the end goal na sana bawat household, may nag-tatrabaho, bawat bata nag-aaral, bawat tao may access sa social services,” the solon further said.
Yap also congratulated Mayor Cesar Molita for spearheading the festival to showcase each Kankana-ey speaking municipality’s culture, traditions, indigenous knowledge, skills and practices.
“Nagpapasalamat tayo sa Kibungan, headed by Mayor Cesar Molitas who initiated this festival along with other mayors. Nag-usap usap sila na baka it’s high time na gawin yun and they talked to me about it, and I immediately said yes, it was a no-brainer. I am on board from the very start. Next year, I’m sure mas magiging masaya pa,” added Yap.
With the success of the Kankan-ey Festival buoyed by the yearly staging of the Ibaloy Festival, Yap is hopeful the Kalanguya Tribe will also stage their own festival in the near future.
“Hopefully the Kalanguya Festival will be initiated as well, I am an adopted Kalanguya also. So may Ibaloi Festival na, may Kankana-ey, and soon hopefully Kalanguya naman,” Yap closed out, who was baptized ‘Bollinay.’
With the theme “Ulnos di Kankanaey para sin Pansigedan di Ili”, aside from Kibungan, other Kankanaey-dominated municipalities like Bakun, Buguias, Kapangan and Mankayan took part in the celebration.