Thoughts on the First Cordillera Day in Tokyo

Dan Peckley Jr., an iFontok/iKalinga working with the University of Tokyo, sent us this article on the First Cordillera Day in Japan held last April 22. The event appears to have been a success. Dan writes: “Despite busy schedules (Palalo nan kinagaget nan kaka-ilyan takos na/Our kailiyans are really hard workers here) and the fact that no formal organizing committee was set up to prepare and coordinate the Cordillera Day, it was a success. Now that Cordillerans know each other better, one ka-ilyan suggested that we hold the next Cordillera Day at the Tokyo Dome.”

Thanks Dan! Congratulations on your successful event and we hope you continue to have more Cordillera Day celebrations. Wow, Tokyo Dome ha? That must be as large as the Araneta Coliseum. Go for it kailiyans in Japan!

Thoughts on the First Cordillera Day in Tokyo
Daniel Peckley Jr., Ph.D.

The First Cordillera Day in Tokyo was a well-attended celebration. Only 50 to 100 participants were expected, but around 150 turned up for the event. It was indeed a large gathering where, by playing the gangsa, dancing the salip and tadek, and partaking of pinapaitan, dinakdakan and other Filipino dishes that were prepared by our kaka-ilyan, everybody enjoyed each other’s company so much so that some were hesitant to leave even after the program was over.

The sermon and message of the event’s special guest, Episcopal Bishop Dixie Taclobao, was thought-provoking and inspiring. His message on being our brothers’ keepers, “Lahat tayo ay may pananagutan sa isa’t isa”, particularly struck a chord. Indeed, a strong sense of fellowship flows in the blood of every Cordilleran and we call this panangisakit san kib-a or, in Tagalog, pagmamalasakit sa kapwa. But if such sense of fellowship is inherent in all Cordillerans, how come sometimes we end up being at odds with each other, or worse, killing each other in tribal conflicts?

I think this has something to do with the reality that Cordillerans are diverse groups of people, having distinct cultures and traditions. Having grown up in Bontoc, Mt. Province and Tabuk, Kalinga, I know that two tribes with only a river or a mountain separating them can be different from each other, in terms of dialect, practices and even how they play the the gangsa. However, having met more Cordillerans later (Ifugaos in my undergrad years and now, in Japan , Abraenians), I realized that Cordillerans, though different from each other, have common values. If we seek unity among ourselves, we should emphasize these values rather than our differences.

The success of the First Cordillera Day in Tokyo was largely due to the pride as Cordillerans that our kaka-ilyan from Abra had shown during the celebrations and to the hard work they contributed. Just like the Ifugaos, Kalingas, Kankana-eys and Bontocs who I know, Abraenians are proud of who they are. “They have no pretensions and are fun to be with,” was what my colleague from Laguna said about them. When I first met their group, a comment from a Norwegian friend, who now lives in the Philippines, came to mind: “Indeed, Cordillerans are proud of their roots and identities, and you better not mess with them.”

There are three values that I think Cordillerans have in common:
1) Pride in our identity and roots – which we have to extend beyond our clan and tribal affiliations;
2) Hard work that makes us self-reliant; and
3) Concern for others, or panangisakit san kib-a as pointed out earlier.

I believe these values transcend time and ideologies. These values should be celebrated in other Cordillera Days to come. These values are mutually reinforcing and it is because of these values that Cordillerans were largely spared from the cruelties of colonial rule. It is also because of these values that Macli-ing Dulag and other elders led the tribes of Kalinga and Mt. Province to resist the Chico River Dam and the repressions during the Martial Law period.

Like most Filipinos, Cordillerans are now facing the challenges of diaspora and globalization. With these values flowing in our veins, we will survive and prevail like our elders and ancestors. If there should be a main reason for celebrating Cordillera Day, it is to sustain these values among Cordillerans.

* * *

We are indeed very lucky that Rev. John Yuji Kanzaki offered Seikyushu Kyokai as the venue for the celebrations of the First Cordillera Day in Tokyo . Having been ordained as an Episcopalian priest in the Philippines and having lived with our kaka-ilyans in the Cordilleras, Rev. John knows us very well. After the celebrations yesterday, he offered the church not only to Cordillerans, but also to all Filipinos, as a sanctuary. He volunteered to offer an English Mass every second Sunday of the month for Filipinos, starting next May. With the company of our kaka-ilyans Jose and Cecilia Pampanico singing Salidummay songs and playing the gangsa, our kaka-ilyans will certainly feel at home at Seikyushu Kyokai. English mass starts at 3:00 p.m.

Note: Dan is a Researcher at the Geotechnical Engineering Laboratory of the University of Tokyo.

RELATED POST: First Cordillera Day in Tokyo.; Cordillera Day 2007

2 thoughts on “Thoughts on the First Cordillera Day in Tokyo”

  1. Hi Bill!
    My cousin, Emily, went to the Cordillera Day celebration after reading your announcement on the blog. She and her entire family had a lovely time. I’m really glad for blogs like yours, it helps pull all the indigenous people together as one.
    ~Babot aka Omom

  2. Hi Babot,
    Thanks. Ganun ba? That’s good to know. I thought all the while that Emily, who wrote a comment on the original post, was one of the organizers of the event. The internet really does wonders in bringing us together, no? And its also good that our kailiyans in different parts of the world, like Dan et. al, are gathering together for events like this so its kinda inspiring to blog about what they are doing hehe. Thanks again.

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