The traditional Cordillera Unity Gong Relay kicked off morning of July 9 at the scenic Banaue Hotel in Ifugao with host province officials led by Governor Pedro Mayam-o and Vice Governor Jose Jordan Gullitiw, NEDA-Cordillera Administrarive Region (CAR) Regional Director and RDC Vice Chair Milagros Rimando, and RDC Development Administration Sectoral Committee chaired by Dept. of Interior and Local Governemnt (DILG) Regional Director Marlo Iringan, the lead committee in this year's celebration.
Mumbaki or elder priests of Ifugao perform traditional rituals during the Cordillera Unity Gong Relay in Banaue, Ifugao. The sectoral committees of the Regional Development Council will lead activities to bring services to the people in different provinces as part of the Unity Gong Relay, which is a major activity of the 31st Cordillera Month celebration. (RMC- PIA CAR)
After the program, the gong relay team travelled to Bontoc, Mountain Province for the turn-over ceremony at Mount Polis and the program proper at the capital town of Bontoc at 5PM.
Simultaneously, the RDC Economic Development Sectoral Committee spearheaded by the Dept. of Trade and Industry ,in partnership with the local government of Mountain Province, and the regional offices of the Dept. of Science and Technology (DOST), Dept. of Agrarian Reform and Dept. of Agriculture opened a mini trade fair at the Bontoc Multipurpose Plaza. The trade fair includes a craft demo on weaving, coffee brewing and serving, and free anti-rabies vaccination, pet grooming and neutering.
The DOST also turned over the STARBOOKS, short for Science amp; Technology Academic and Research-Based Openly Operated Kiosk Station, also known as "LIBRARY IN A BOX" intended to serve as information access portals to the different school beneficiaries in the province.
Ifugao delegates led Governor Pedro Mayam-o and the Regional Development Council contingent turns over the Cordillera Unity Gong to the Mountain Province group led by Governor Bonifacio Lacwasan at the highway boundary at Mount Polis. After the customary beating of gongs, the delegates proceeded to the Mountain Province Multipurpose Hall for the formal turnover program.
On July 10, the unity gong will travel to Kalinga where it will be turned over to Kalinga officials in the town of Lubuagan, and then proceed to Tabuk City for the formal program.
The Watershed and Environment Management Sectoral Committee headed by the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources will lead the recognition program to award the best performing People's Organizations in Tabuk City. This will also include the distribution of free patents to beneficiaries and information, education and communication campaign including regional autonomy.
On July 11, the Unity Gong will be brought to the province of Apayao where it will be turned over at the boundary in Conner and will proceed to Kabugao town for the program proper and the friendship ball games between Kalinga and Apayao.
The Regional Social Development Committee chaired by the Dept. of Social Welfare and Development will hold the Convergence Caravan and One Stop Shop in Pudtol, Apayao during the Apayao leg.
On July 12, the unity gong will travel at least 10 hours from Apayao to the province of Abra where it will be turned over to Abra officials at the Tangadan Tunnel and then proceed to the Capitol building for the formal program.
For the Abra leg, the Development Administration and Good Governance Committee led by the DILG-CAR will open on July 11 the three-day Anti-Drug Abuse training for barangays at the Provincial Capitol Social Hall.
On July 13, the unity gong will travel to Baguio City and Benguet province for its official turn over program and ceremony.
The Commision on Higher Education will take the lead in the Cordillera Got Talent competition at the NEAP Hall, Teachers Camp in Baguio City on July 13 at 1PM to be attended by students from the different state colleges and universities in the Cordillera.
On July 14, the Unity Gong will travel back from Benguet to the host province and will be received by the members of the Ifugao delegation in Lamut town followed by the tree tending activity in the vicinity of the Panopdopan District Hospital and CENRO Lamut.
The gong relay was conceived by the RDC in its search for an activity that would draw all the provinces and the City of Baguio in the pursuit of regional autonomy. The symbolic unity gong is moved from one province to another. The governors or their representatives serve as relayer and receiver usually at the political boundary area or at the seat of governance. They take turn in beating the gong at a designated area to sound-off the call for unity and they gave out messages on the move towards regional autonomy.
The Cordillera Month celebration will be held at the capital town of Lagawe on July 15. This year's celebration theme is "CAR@31: Regional Autonomy for Good Governance" which is congruent to the region's renewed quest for regional autonomy and in support to the Regional Development Council's thrust of autonomy towards federalism. (JDP/RMC- PIA CAR)