Kankana-eys from the various towns of Benguet converged in Kibungan to celebrate the rich heritage of the indigenous peoples group during the 1st Kankana-ey Festival on May 13.
Themed “Ulnos di Kankanaey para sin pansigedan di ili,” (Unity of the Kankana-ey people, key to uplifting the community), the festival was initiated by Kibungan and is aimed to showcase the ethnolinguistic group’s unique traditions and culture.
The town gymnasium was full to the brim with delegates from the province, especially from the neighboring Kankana-ey-dominated municipalities of Bakun, Buguias, Kapangan, and Mankayan.
Dancers performed the tallak, which is particularly performed by indigenous peoples of Bakun using wooden instruments in place of the gongs and solibao, while Kapangan led the participants in their official town dance, the grand march.
Also, featured during the one-day activity were the trade and agri-fair, photo exhibit and artifacts, free tapey (rice wine) tasting, and the traditional woven attire of the Kankana-eys.
Benguet Rep. Eric Yap lauded town officials for coming up with the first Kankanaey festival and assured his continuing support for its annual staging.
As an adopted son of the Kankana-eys with a traditional name of Sakduan, he vowed to further enrich the culture and tradition of the province as his legislative priority.
Yap lauded Kibungan Mayor Cesar Molitas for initiating the festival, saying the later and other mayors earlier broached to him the idea of the Kankana-ey festival, which he immediately agreed.
With the success of the festival, Yap is hopeful the Kalanguya IP group will also stage their own festival in the future.
The Kalanguyas are mostly located in the boundaries of Bokod and Kabayan with Nueva Vizcaya.
The Kankana-ey Festival is the counterpart of the yearly staged Ibaloy Festival in October, aside from the Ibaloy Day celebration in Baguio City held every Feb. 23.
Aside from the three major ethnolinguistic groups of Benguet which are the Ibaloy, Kankana-ey and Kalanguya, other minor groups include the Karao and Iowak, among others with distinct cultures and histories of their own.
It was announced that next year’s Kankana-ey Festival will be hosted by Buguias. – Ofelia C. Empian