Jave Riezzon Palilio of Poblacion East and Princess Zeirelle Cabalang of Poblacion West both grabbed two special awards on their way to winning the Search for Little Mr. & Miss Flora 2016 during the finale night of this year’s Kabinnulig Festival at the Dr. Efren U. De San Jose Memorial Sports Center. Read here...
Sometimes men are smarter than their counterpart even in what has to be a women’s turf — the dance floor, especially in this modern/pop culture. Read here…
Mayor Ricardo De San Jose Comprehensive High School (MRCHS) grabbed the limelight in the Street Dance Competition at the just-concluded 2016 Kabinnulig Festival with a semblance of native Apayao culture and traditional costumes. Read Here…
The Indigenous Games became one of the biggest hits of the 2016 KABINNULIG FESTIVAL as it drew a huge crowd at the Flora Town Hall ground on June 21. Read Here…
Although not perfectly fine-tuned, their performances surely left a big impact both for the audience and the stars of the show in a night of cultural awakening. Read Here
Flora’s poorest village hosts
21st Apayao Day
Vol. 1 Issue 3, March 2016
No other means but walking and climbing up the hills. But once you reach the village of Lagpan, it is a temporary relief and satisfaction — at least from a first time visitor’s perspective. For the local residents, it is a way of life. Yet, no matter how difficult to reach the area, no matter how far-flung — here we come to UPPER ATOK.
For a moment of revelry, a view to the south and west sides are rolling hills and the Apayao Mountain ranges that form part of the Cordilleras. It is overlooking the beautiful Bubulayan Bridge that hovers over Apayao River, the province most important and largest waterways. From a distance, you can see banana plantations and small pineapple farms as well as rice and corn fields.
Lagpan is where the Barangay Hall of Upper Atok is established. A rural health clinic and school facilities are also in-placed. A few houses are scattered nearby. Living condition is generally poor. There is no electricity, communication is practically nil though Barangay chairman Roberto Borje’s house has a solar panel installed.
On Feb. 15, Mayor Rodolfo B. Juan brought all offices of the Local Government Unit of Flora and all line agencies to this town’s poorest barangay in celebration of the 21st founding anniversary of APAYAO province.
From Flora, it takes full two hours to the remote village — one-and-a-half-hours drive from Flora via junction Luna and the treacherous Luna-Pudtol-Kabugao hi-way passing Namolinan and Bubulayan bridges to the drop-off point and a 30-minute walk and climb via muddy-sticky-slippery carabao path.
The road (or to be more precise) — the pathway to Upper Atok, home for over 700 IPs, is tricky-difficult. There is no other means of transportation than walking then crossing a river (or boarding a banca) and climbing up the muddy-sticky hills or (riding a carabao for the natives when bringing their farm produce to the market in Pudtol town instead of Flora). Residents said they have no choice because if they would have to take the route to Lower Atok that would be more difficult for them since it would take three times more to reach their own town. So the town of Pudtol is the most sensible place to sell their agricultural products and buy their basic commodities. Social welfare officer Eufracia Pascua’s observation is an appropriate assessment of the situation — that residents from here could not be blamed for being always not on time during meetings or special occasions held at town hall.
It was a simple yet meaningful celebration because it gave the LGU employees at least a feel of the miseries of the people there mostly belonging to indigenous peoples including Igorot and Kankanaey from Kalinga, Itneg from Abra, Isnag and a significant number of Aeta tribes (15 households). It was also a chance for them to mingle with the local folks, ate with them, know their problems and even spent time joking with the children like what Sangguniang Bayan Member Clapton De San Jose did as he chatted and played with the boys.
In his message, Mayor Juan echoed the advice of the late Governor Elias K. Bulut Sr. to bring public service to the best interest of the people especially in interior villages as way of making the vision and mission of Apayao a reality. It was Bulut who initiated the move for Apayao as a separate province from Kalinga through R.A. 7878 in 1995.
Highlights of the affair included medical mission and dental clinic by the Rural Health Unit, a mass wedding initiated by Municipal Registrar’s Office head Luzviminda Enciso and administered by the mayor, cedula registration by the treasury office, carabao registration and marking and rationing of grocery items and school supplies to children as well as slippers by the MSWD and other activities.
Also joining the celebration were Engr. Alvin Aceret and the engineering staff, Engr. Jean Agustin and her staff from planning and development office, municipal assessor Danny Pacis to just name a few. The Bureau of Fire Protection and disaster risk reduction management office have also conducted demonstration in rescue efforts and gave a first aid kit to the barangay through chairman Borje.
Of the eleven pairs that registered for the mass wedding, six were Aetas. All pairs have already been living for two or more years already.
Fredie P. Tao-weng, originally from Pinukpuk, Kalinga, and his wife have been living for 16 years and settled here since 2007 and fell in love with the place just like they fell in love with each other. They have three children.
The mass wedding was a big chance for the banana grower, (who manages net income of between P500 to P1000 a month), to avail because it is free and have avoided the hassles of marriage papers, so and so….
A two-room school building is under construction. Marvie, Evangelista, one of four teachers taking charge of the situation, set aside the difficulties of being assigned to a place like Upper Atok because for the meantime they are savoring this once in a lifetime opportunity to be with important visitors on this particularly day. They’re just glad to be hosting. They are taking care of total of 37 pupils — each having two classes at the same time with Evangelista assigned to Grades 3 and 4. Representatives from the Department of Education’s municipal level are also present to assess the situation. Kinder has five students, Grade 1 (5), Grade 2 (5), Grade 3 (8), Grade 4 (6), Grade 5 (6) and Grade 6 (1). Evangelista said there used to be two Grade six students but the other one has dropped out with no apparent reason.
Borje welcomed the visitors and thanked the mayor for bringing the celebration to them.
Making their presence felt were SB members Clapton De San Jose, Aniceta Cacacho, Florendo Conde, Demetrio Conde, Jessie Pascua, David Tabbaban and Ex-officio Board Member Jeofrey T. Blas. Chairmen from the different barangays that included Allig, Balasi, Anninipan, San Jose and Malubibit Norte were also present with Poblacion East Manny Biggayan and Bagutong’s Tabbaban seen helping in preparing foods for the occasion.
Also showing-up in time for the ceremonies were Board Member Remy Albano and Galleon and other aspirants for the next local and national elections in May.
There are 166 registered voters here according to Borje.
In the meantime, the women of Upper Atok have joined the race of catching a native piglet, the children showing their wares in cultural presentations, officials collecting cash donations for the residents, and other event’s highlights.
An important activity is film showing featuring “Red Leaves Falling,” which gives people in interior barangays an eye-opener to unfamiliar people offering jobs who might have bad intentions instead of helping their already impoverished plight.
The message is clear. The celebration of APAYAO DAY this year was held there in Upper Atok, no matter how difficult to reach, with the simple reason of letting the poorest families in the whole of Flora know that they are not spared from the basic services they deserve to get.
Departure time, the downhill trek is more slippery following the rain showers in the afternoon but it was alright for the LGU family because the prospects for the future of Upper Atok are brighter than it was before. A lot of work is to be done, of course, but the feel of something good has just started.
Tracing the IP’s roots
Vol. 1 Issue 2, January-February 2016
Like most of his peers, he hardly writes his name on the registration form. But Felix Umayam is excited to come to the special occasion along with his wife and family members. The long-and-white-bearded 65-year old Agta from Barangay Balasi was just on
e of over a thousand participants to the First General Assembly and Christmas Program of the Indigenous Peoples of Flora on December 11, 2015 at the Bagutong Gymnasium.
Umayam’s village is one of the two largest concentration areas of Aeta tribes in the municipality. It is one of the town’s remotest barangays. Living conditions there are generally poor though efforts to fast track the
delivery of basic services are being assured.
Based on an initial report by Antonio Claveria, who is now the President of the Municipal Council of Indigenous Elders following the death of the group’s former head Ricardo De San Jose, Balasi and Atok are homes of about 20 Aeta families each or estimated combined population of close to 200 individuals. Other Agta tribes also live in other interior villages.
Organized by IP Mandatory Representative Richard De San Jose, the General Assembly was part of an effort to continue tracing the customs and traditions of the local IPs, assessing their poor living conditions and how to address them. A total of 1,021 IPs have registered during the affair, most of them are Isnags from Atok and Ibanags from Bagutong and Malayugan. A big number of delegation also came from other tribes like the Kankanaey, Kalinga and Igorot from Sta. Maria. Others were Tingguian, Itneg, Abra, Itawes and Malaweg.
SB legislative officer Arnel Cayetano, who is one of the drafters of the first IP Constitution and By Laws read and discussed some of the main provisions of the document and assisted by the IPMR and the president of the council of elders. Organizers said they did not expect the turnout to be that big.
Guest of honor Dr. Corazon Claveria, provincial director of the National Council of Indigenous People (NIP), gave an overview of the government’s efforts to focus on uplifting the plight of the IPs. Mayor Rodolfo B. Juan thanked the IPMR for organizing such a special occasion and assured that the LGU is always ready to extend assistance.
To spice-up the affair, traditional songs and dances as well as chants were performed by the different tribes.
IPMR De San Jose dared each group performer to showcase their talents well to avail of incentives. With an improvised musical instrument accompanying them, Umayam and his wife did the Aetas’ way which suited the IMPR’s criteria giving them a thousand peso token of appreciation.
The day’s finale was the raffle draw with numerous prizes given to lucky participants including the grand prize of washing machine donated by Vice Mayor Jessica De San Jose and won by five-year old Isnag girl Daphnie Faye Calpito from Atok. Other donors were Mayor Juan, SB Members Clapton De San Jose, Jessie Pascua, Flor and Demetrio Conde, Annie Cacacho, Cristelita Putulan, Sergio Sabbun and David Tabbaban Jr.
Also joining in the gift giving were board mem
ber Galleon and SB aspirant Vic Maruquin.