Summary of the 11th ICBE Conference

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11th Igorot Cordillera BIMAAK-Europe (ICBE) Conference 

May 18-20, 2023

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

MABIKAs Foundation - The Netherlands ushered in the decade by hosting the 11th Igorot Cordillera BIMAAK-Europe (ICBE) Conference in Amsterdam, The Netherlands on May 18-20, 2023. The theme was, “Bridging the Gaps: Exploring the Government Programs for OFWs and Perspectives on Cordillera Autonomy.”  

At the height of the conference, which was the Cultural Night, there were around 100 participants -- both young and old. They came from the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Philippines, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. 

The organizations represented were: BIBAK Switzerland, BIBAAK Cordillera Barcelona, Cordillera Community in Belgium (Cordi-Bel), Cordillera Germany Organization (CGO),  Ifugao UK, Igorot Czech Republic Community,

Igorot in France Association (IFA), Igorot Organization in Austria, MABIKAs Foundation- The Netherlands (MABIKAs), Rambak Austria, Solibao NRW (North Rhine Westphalia), Germany [Solibao] and Igorot UK Charity.

The program on the first evening, May 18, was “Getting to Know You.” With Yvonne Kay-an Belen, coordinator of the 11th ICBE Conference, as Emcee, the program opened with welcome remarks by Myra Colis, founding member and chairperson of MABIKAs Foundation. This was followed by a Bad’iw by Gil Tiban Catimo, past president of BIBAAK Cordillera Barcelona. The attendees introduced themselves and some were so enthusiastic that their two-minute introduction became five minutes. Marjorie Akistoy gave an update on the 14th Igorot International Consultation to be held in Auckland, New Zealand on January 27-29, 2024. Hosted by the Organization of Cordillerans in New Zealand (OCNZ), the theme is, “Igorot Diaspora: Celebrations and Connectivity in a Changing World.”   

On May 19, some participants went to Marken, Simonehoeve (a cheese and clog store) and to Zaanse Schans. At the last place, they spent three hours going around the site – visiting the cheese and clog factory, walking and going into the windmills and having a one-hour ride along the river Zaan. Of course, photos were being taken here and there.  

The Emcee for the program on the morning of May 20 was Christina T. Moncado of MABIKAs Foundation. As the resource speaker, Atty Cheryl Daytec-Yangot, Head of the Philippine Overseas Labour Office in Geneva, Switzerland delivered her talk on “Perspectives on Cordillera Autonomy.”  

In charge of the afternoon program was Renijune Abaya of MABIKAs Foundation. There were cultural workshops on dances of Benguet, Abra, Ifugao and Mountain Province. Most participants enthusiastically joined the workshops. 

Myra Colis and Manny Mones, member of BIBAAK Cordillera Barcelona, were the Emcees for the Cultural Night. Philippine Ambassador to the Netherlands, H.E. Eduardo J. Malaya gave an inspirational message. Prior to his talk, Henry Foken delivered an Oggayam. And before the cultural performances, Yvonne Kay-an Belen read the Acknowledgments. Though quite long, she made sure that everyone who made the conference a success, was mentioned. There were cultural performances consisting of songs and dances like Lablabaan of Abra, Ifugao dance and Bendian of Benguet. Community dances followed like Ballangbang of Mountain Province. Winners of the 11th ICBE raffle draw fundraising initiative were also drawn that evening, including 10 consolation prize winners drawn by the youth/children (2nd generation), and three grand prizes drawn by  Ambassador Eduardo J. Malaya. He surprised MABIKAs Foundation with a plaque of commendation from the Philippine Embassy in The Hague to MABIKAs for the organization's support and solidarity with the Embassy's programs and initiatives as well as for hosting the 11th ICBE Conference. Earlier, Cordi-Bel, through Ric Cuyob, mentioned their community’s willingness to host the 12th ICBE Conference in Belgium in 2025. So, with the ICBE logo, the MABIKAs Foundation Board headed by Myra Colis and the constituents, turned over the hosting of the next conference to members of Cordi-Bel. The formal program ended with Glenn Yamoyam, president of BIBAAK Cordillera Barcelona, giving the closing chant. What followed were  community dancing and forming a circle to bid each other goodbye until the hall had to be closed. It was a sad moment to say goodbye. However, everyone was happy with the thought that they will meet again in Belgium in 2025. 

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