Impressions By Caridad Fiar-od

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3rd Igorot Cordillera BIMAAK Europe (ICBE) Consultation

5-8 May 2005

by Caridad Fiar-od

The ICBE consultation will always be memorable in my life for many reasons. In summary, it was a conference at the right place, at the right time with the right theme focused on an issue, participated by the right number of participants of all ages with right disposition. Having been all right, the attendees left happy and contented with their active participation in the workshops, tours, social presentations, etc. As each one has her own tendencies and imperfections, such were taken as challenges and opportunities that made everything in smooth sailing, For us from the Philippines, we will be missing the 101 different kinds of cheese and chocolates. Our amusement and excitement included the train, boat and bus rides around the cities and within the snowy Alps mountains, the comfort and hospitality accorded to us by every family who invited us in their chalet, homes or apartments. Our souls were lifted by the accommodating and generous Igorots and Swiss we had met in the street, church, park, chateaus, toilettes, etc.

In a scale of ten, if I were to rate the degree of success of the ICBE consultation, it was a resounding success with a rating of 11 above the scale. It was more than what I expected. With the theme "Our Igorot Cordillera Culture: Heritage and Social Integration," the conference in its real sense was well defined by the cultural integration of the Swiss cow-bells sound with the Igorot gongs to produce music that Igorots and Swiss could dance with, either as a group or with a partner. The roses given by the Swiss children and mothers to all of us, Igorot mothers, on Mother’s Day last May 8 made it very meaningful and symbolic that I will always treasure. My experience was really amusing.

The organizers deserve to be congratulated for their collaborative efforts from the excellent planning to the execution evidenced by the "no hassles and puzzles" and a balance involvement of the mind, body, and soul. There was the workshop to activate the mind; the dancing, walking and eating for the physical need; the ecumenical service/mass for the spiritual need. The service, per se, integrated folk singing and praying without disregarding the global common practice of any church service. It was also an honor that the Honorable Ambassador Rora Tolentino gave priority to the Igorot Gala Night over all her scheduled engagement. The more I felt as proud as an Igorot when the Ambassador expressed her admiration to the Igorot organization with ethnic linguistic identity moving towards global momentum for solidarity.

Specifically, if I were to ask myself what was ICBE consultation for me, aside from all the things mentioned earlier, I am very happy that the youth with Swiss-Igorot parentage or British-Igorot parentage were much interested in learning about Igorot culture when they have to interview me about Igorot culture. I was approached by one student if I could enrich her University report about the Igorot culture. The ICBE activity also enriched my forum paper which I presented to the Department of Human Geographics at the University of Zurich. Hence, with sincerity, I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to the organizers for inviting me to participate in the ICBE that would surely mean so much in my life.

In so, as I breathe freely, I say, "It’s the real thing and how I wish I was an Igorot-Swiss." I look forward to attending the next ICBE consultation. Kabunyan is Great!!!

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